Author Archive | Ariel

#READ Savannah Update and a Book Club Giveaway

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

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This coming Sunday, September 18th, we will gather with 200 of our closest, book-loving friends for #READSavannah. We’ll begin the day by sharing lunch with 20 amazing authors and 100 amazing booksellers and then go into an afternoon of panels, conversations, and bonding over books. Then, when we’re all giddy and filled to the brim with stories, we’ll cap the day off with a keynote interview between Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) and Liane Moriarty. Marybeth and I have been working on this event for six months. So much has gone on behind the scenes to make this day a reality. And if you’ve seen less of us here it’s because we’ve been working overtime there. And now #READSavannah is just days away!

We’ve been amazed at the response to this year’s event. Tickets to the lunch portion sold out in just a few weeks and there’s been a waiting list to get in ever since. But we’ve reserved a handful of tickets for the afternoon panels and keynote just for today. If you’re in a Savannah book club (or within driving distance of Savannah) and you’d like to bring your friends and join us on Sunday, this is your lucky day. We’re giving away tickets to two lucky book clubs. Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win tickets for your entire book club. Winners will be chosen randomly tomorrow.

Good luck! And see you Sunday!

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Our Fall Book Club Selection

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

One of the strangest things about this particular job has always been the dueling realities of TALKING about books while at the same time WRITING books. Granted, we share less about the writing in this space. Maybe because that process is so quiet and private? Or maybe because there’s so little to talk about until the book is actually here. But that brings me to my point. Because I am utterly thrilled to share that Marybeth Whalen’s new novel is finally here! As you know, she’s my dearest friend, my She Reads co-founder, and one of the best, most loyal, funniest, and all-around brilliant people that I know. Her new book, THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE, is not only her best novel so far, but it was a true labor of love. I had the great privilege of watching her write this book (mostly from a distance, but occasionally across the room) and I can assure you she poured her entire heart into it. And then some.

Would you join me in congratulating Marybeth? One way to do that, of course, is by picking up a copy and reading it for yourself. I think you’ll you’ll see yourself on these pages, and you’ll most likely see your neighbors as well.

I don’t often endorse novels but I jumped at the chance to do so with this one. Here’s my official, glowing endorsement for THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE:

The Things We Wish Were True is a brilliant glimpse into the realities of suburban life. Startling. Compelling. Redemptive. It’s the kind of story that makes us wonder how well we really know ourselves—much less our neighbors. Marybeth Whalen has a gift for turning over the pretty surfaces of life, finding the hidden things beneath, and then exposing them to the light. I found myself drawn in, unable to look away from these characters and their dark, tender, familiar lives. I utterly loved this novel.”

You can grab your copy here.

You can add THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE to your Goodreads want-to-read list here.

And you can join us this fall as we discuss this novel in depth with Marybeth.

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TTWWWTIn an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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We’ll See You On The Flip Side

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

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Hi friends. Just a quick note to let you know we will be on hiatus for the remainder of August. Marybeth and I both drowning in back to school preparations for our kids and tight deadlines for our next books. But we’ll be back at the beginning of September with big news, a great book club giveaway, and updates on #READSavannah. In the meantime, we’ll still be online a bit–mostly on Instagram. You can find Marybeth here and Ariel here.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Author to Author Interview: Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson, Part Two

Today’s post by Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson | @AlixRickloff and @JenniferRobsonR

We’re delighted to bring you part two of our interview with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. You can read part one here.

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Jennifer: I was really impressed by your mastery of period detail in “Secrets of Nanreath Hall”, and all the more so because it’s such a departure for you. What drew you to the twentieth century and the crucible of its world wars as a setting?

Alix: My interest in WWII began while I was in college. I watched Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver and was forever hooked on the time period. But for twenty plus years and nine plus books, it remained merely a side interest until a recent conversation with my agent during which she asked the fateful question; “What do you really want to write about?” Suddenly, I was confronted with all sorts of exciting possibilities in genres and settings I’d never considered. As authors we thrive on tension, drama, and conflict to shape our stories. And there are few decades more loaded with all three than those surrounding WWI and WWII. Those years were the fault lines between old values and new when the world was reshaping itself in violent ways and ordinary people were caught up in the struggle to, not only survive, but find their place within a changing social landscape. Both Kitty and Anna are at the mercy of these tumultuous events. Coming from the closeted life of an aristocrat, Kitty fights against expectations of class and gender when it comes to following her dreams while her daughter Anna, as a VAD nurse in a military hospital, confronts both the immediate cost of war as well as the aftermath of her mother’s fateful choices.

Jennifer: It’s been a few months since I gobbled up my advance copy of “Secrets of Nanreath Hall” and I am eager for more from you! Can you tell me anything about your next book?

Alix: Not much as I only just turned it into my editor, but I can tell you it’s loosely connected to the first book, though there’s no need to have read the first one to pick up the second. Lucy Stanhope is the spoiled daughter of an ex-pat socialite living in Singapore. Due to a scandal, she’s sent home to England in disgrace just ahead of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan’s entrance into the war. Unhappy and alone, she befriends a young evacuee and the very unlikely pair end up running away to London in search of his mother. In essence, it’s sort of a buddy road-trip book set against the backdrop of the WWII British home front. I had a blast writing both Lucy and her twelve year old delinquent sidekick in crime, Bill (any resemblance to my own son are merely coincidence) and can’t wait to hear what readers think.

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Secrets of Nanreath HallThis incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.

Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.

As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Author to Author Interview: Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson

Today’s post by Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson | @AlixRickloff and @JenniferRobsonR

We’re delighted to visit with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson today as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. We’ll be back with part two of this interview on Thursday. Until then, enjoy!

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Alix: I started life as a European history major so, to me, research is half the fun of writing the book. I don’t know how many times I fell down the rabbit hole in search of some obscure tidbit only to surface hours later wondering where my writing day had gone. Old Pathé newsreels were the worst. They sucked me in every time. Did you ever experience that thrill of the hunt when you were researching Moonlight Over Paris? Was there one resource you found more tempting—and more dangerous to your word count—than others?

Jennifer: I sympathize—that happens to me every time I’m in the middle of researching a book, and it can come as an awful shock to discover that I’ve frittered away an entire day chasing down details that don’t seem to have any relevance to the book I’m writing. The thing is—and it’s taken me a while to figure it out—sometimes it’s those very same discursions that lead me to something unexpected and useful. When I was in the very early stages of researching Moonlight Over Paris, I stumbled across a photograph of an incredibly lifelike painted eye-patch that appeared to have been made to cover a missing eye. It led me to the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks, which I’d never heard of before; I had (wrongly) assumed that such work was confined to the studio of Francis Derwent Wood in England. A week later, after chasing down and devouring every bit of information I could find on the people who worked at the Paris-based studio and the masks they created for disfigured soldiers, I reluctantly had to admit that I couldn’t use it in my work in progress, mainly because the dates didn’t line up with my heroine’s timeline. So I set my notes aside—and then, months later, realized that the studio would make the perfect setting for my contribution to Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. If only every fall down the rabbit hole were as useful!

Alix: As a reader, I love series that allow me to revisit a beloved world and find out what has become of my favorite characters. While your books aren’t what I would define as a strict series, they are connected. Are any of the characters from Moonlight Over Paris or your earlier books still clamoring for a story of their own?

Jennifer: I would say that most of them are! In my books I try very hard to create secondary characters who feel as real and complete as the central figures in the narrative, to the extent that I create and fill out “Proust Questionnaires” for everyone with a significant role. Readers may never know that Helena’s friend Mathilde considers a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens with her daughter to be her greatest joy, but my knowing such a thing helps me to shape her character and ensure she remains true to it over the course of the book. It also means that she, and most of the supporting cast in my books, feel very really to me—so much so that I can imagine entire books for most of them. If I had to choose which one among them would get a book of his or her own, I think it would be Etienne, Helena’s friend in Moonlight Over Paris. He was a great artist, so life likely took him all sorts of interesting places, but he was also a gay man, which would have placed him in terrible peril if he were still in Europe at the outbreak of the Second World War. Perhaps I will just have to write him into one of my WW2-era books, the first of which I’ve just completed, and answer my questions about him that way!

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Moonlight Over ParisAn aristocratic young woman leaves the sheltered world of London to find adventure, passion, and independence in 1920s Paris in this mesmerizing story from the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over.

Spring, 1924

Recovering from a broken wartime engagement and a serious illness that left her near death, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr vows that for once she will live life on her own terms. Breaking free from the stifling social constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised, she travels to France to stay with her free spirited aunt. For one year, she will simply be Miss Parr. She will explore the picturesque streets of Paris, meet people who know nothing of her past—and pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

A few years after the Great War’s end, the City of Light is a bohemian paradise teeming with actors, painters, writers, and a lively coterie of American expatriates who welcome Helena into their romantic and exciting circle. Among them is Sam Howard, an irascible and infuriatingly honest correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Dangerously attractive and deeply scarred by the horror and carnage of the war, Sam is unlike any man she has ever encountered. He calls her Ellie, sees her as no one has before, and offers her a glimpse of a future that is both irresistible and impossible.

As Paris rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, so too does Helena. Though she’s shed her old self, she’s still uncertain of what she will become and where she belongs. But is she strong enough to completely let go of the past and follow her heart, no matter where it leads her?

Artfully capturing the Lost Generation and their enchanting city, Moonlight Over Paris is the spellbinding story of one young woman’s journey to find herself, and claim the life—and love—she truly wants.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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#READSavannah Update And Announcements

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

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We can’t believe that #READSavannah is almost here. Just a little over eight weeks left. And since we’ve been working hard behind the scenes on all the details we thought we’d share a few updates with you.

Tickets are going fast! There are only a couple for the lunch option left but there are a handful of non-lunch tickets available. You can register here.

#READSavannah is part of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance yearly conference. The main conference itself will be held at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto — 15 East Liberty Street. (If you’ve not made your reservation already, we suggest doing so as soon as possible. The hotel fills up quickly.) but #READSavannah will take place across the street from the hotel at The Knights of Columbus Hall–3 West Liberty Street.

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We’ve compiled a guide of Literary Minded Things To Do In Lovely Savannah…. Many of these suggestions come from locals so you know they’re top notch. This is a perfect guide for those of you who will be spending the entire weekend and are looking for things to do on Friday and Saturday. Click the link for details.

And finally, we have a number of author confirmed to participate in the day’s events, including Liane Moriarty, but here are a few more we’re really excited about.

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#READ 1From one of America’s most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.

Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of sixteen novels, including Hell, A Small Hotel, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

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#READ 3A micro-preemie fights for survival in this extraordinary and gorgeously told memoir by her parents, both award-winning journalists.

Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her chest you could see her flickering heart. Babies like Juniper, born at the edge of viability, trigger the question: Which is the greater act of love–to save her, or to let her go?

Kelley and Thomas French chose to fight for Juniper’s life, and this is their incredible tale. In one exquisite memoir, the authors explore the border between what is possible and what is right. They marvel at the science that conceived and sustained their daughter and the love that made the difference. They probe the bond between a mother and a baby, between a husband and a wife. They trace the journey of their family from its fragile beginning to the miraculous survival of their now thriving daughter.

Kelley Benham French is a Professor of Practice in journalism at Indiana University. A former reporter and editor for the Tampa Bay Times, she was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for “Never Let Go,” a series about Juniper’s survival.

Thomas French is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the Riley Endowed Chair in Journalism at Indiana University. He is the author of Unanswered Cries, South of Heaven, and the New York Timesbestseller Zoo Story.

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#READ 4For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes a novel Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, calls “a haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.”

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona and writes for The Writer’s Almanac, so if you need a quick anecdote about literary history, she’s your girl. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, where she also coordinated the graduate program in creative writing. GIRL IN PIECES is her first novel for young adults.

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#READ 5New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….

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#READ 6Wedding season has arrived in New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe’s next novel in the “distinct, complex, and endearing” (Charleston Magazine) Lowcountry Summer series, set against the romantic, charming Charleston Lowcountry.

Nothing could be more enchanting than a summer wedding—or two!—in Charleston’s fabled lowcountry. A centuries-old plantation, an avenue of ancient oaks dripping moss, a storied ballroom, a sand dune at sunset…

Yet when a stranger arrives, a long held family secret could silence the bells ringing for the Muir sisters. Scandals surface, family bonds are questioned, and promises are broken and renewed. In A Lowcountry Wedding Monroe delves into the heart of marriage, commitment, and family ties. Huffington Post calls the Lowcountry Summer series “the perfect beach read and a whole lot more.”

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer WindThe Summer’s End, Last Light Over CarolinaTime Is a RiverSweetgrassSkywardThe Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina.

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#READ 7The award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today’s headlines.

Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow, Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world—a world on the cusp of great change.

Set in the postwar, pre-civil rights South, and evoking the socially resonant and morally complex crime novels of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley, Darktown is a vivid, smart, intricately plotted crime saga that explores the timely issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.

Thomas Mullen is the author of The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA TODAY. He was also awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction forThe Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and The Revisionists. His works have been named to Year’s Best lists by The Chicago Tribune and USA TODAY, among others. His stories and essays have been published in Grantland, Paste, and the Huffington Post, and his Atlanta Magazine true crime story about a novelist/con man won the City and Regional Magazine Award for Best Feature. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and sons.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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YA Review: The Selection Series and a Huge Royal Giveaway

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

The Selection

Update: the winners of this giveaway are Brooke, Mandy, and Kim P. You’ll be receiving an email shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!

I’ve heard people describe THE SELECTION series as The Bachelor meets THE HUNGER GAMES, which is a pretty accurate description in terms of the entertainment value, but it’s really so much more than that. For one, the “bachelor” in this case is a gorgeous prince (and don’t most of us dream of that at least a little bit?) looking for his bride. For another, the main character, America Singer, is far more amazing than most of the backstabbing women we love to hate on The Bachelor.

In the world of THE SELECTION, there’s a caste system in place designed to keep the peace in an unsteady future (though not a crazy sci-fi future) through a hierarchy of its people. Royalty are 1s, nobles are 2s, and so on and so forth, with wealth and power reducing with each step down. America Singer, a 5, has grown up in a family with very little resources. She’s had a secret love with a childhood friend, Aspen, that has little hope of surviving because he’s a 6 and she’s expected to marry higher. When the royal family announces a Selection to find Prince Maxon a princess, America registers in the hopes of being chosen and having the chance to earn some money (the girls are compensated for their time) for her family. She is shocked to find herself among the 35 candidates chosen to come live in the castle as Maxon chooses a wife.

The 35 girls make both friends and enemies while largely staying out of the politics of running a country, but America isn’t like most girls. She’s feisty and intelligent and catches Maxon’s eye right from the beginning. America is driven by a desire not just to improve her own family’s situation, but to shed light on the weaknesses of the caste system and how it negatively impacts the lower levels. I absolutely loved her character for her strength and determination.

There is bit of a love triangle happening between America, Aspen, and Maxon, but it’s very well done and I love the resolution of it. I enjoyed the dreaminess of the royal setting and the realistic feeling of the political climate, and I am always, always, always a sucker for a story that showcases a teenager standing up for what’s right in an effort to make their world a better one. I should also mention that this is a pretty clean series as far as content goes; I’m totally comfortable having this in the middle school library, though its appeal reaches much higher in age groups.

Now, this IS a series, but the good news is that the final book came out recently so you can easily binge-read them all this summer. From THE SELECTION, the girls are narrowed down to a field of eight in THE ELITE, and then even further in THE ONE. The story of the next generation is continued in two additional books, both of which are also out, so you don’t have to wait for those either. I definitely recommend reading all the way through to the end – Kiera Cass is an excellent writer and she wrapped the whole series up amazingly in the final book, THE CROWN.

OwlCrateNow, OwlCrate: Another thing I’m loving right now is subscription boxes. It’s just fun to have a happy thing show up in the mail alongside the bills and junk mail, you know? So, I’ve done some research on YA Lit boxes and found one I’m really excited about: OwlCrate. I love their boxes, which are built around a monthly theme and include one great YA title and related swag. And guess what June’s theme was? ROYALTY. It’s perfect.

So, the wonderful people at OwlCrate have decided to give THREE of those Royalty boxes away to She Reads readers. Just comment below and let us know something you’re excited about reading this summer, or why you’d like to receive the box. We’ll pick our winners at random and notify you soon.

We also have our very own discount code for OwlCrate – if you’d like to subscribe (like I am, because it’s too exciting not to), enter the code SHEREADS15 at checkout for a 15% discount.

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About THE SELECTION

The first book in the captivating, #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series! Discover a breathless fairy-tale romance with swoon-worthy characters, glittering gowns, fierce intrigue, and a dystopian world that will captivate readers who loved Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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But When, The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by Amy Hatvany | @AmyHatvany

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Amy Hatvany to share a bit about her new novel, SOMEWHERE OUT THERE in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!

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Amy Hatvany

Amy Hatvany

SOMEWHERE OUT THERE is the story of two sisters who are separated at a young age and end up being raised in vastly different circumstances. I chose to write the book from their points of view, as well as from their mother, the woman who was unable to care for them, and explore what happens when the sisters reconnect and have to decide whether or not to search out the woman who abandoned them. Because the book is written from three points of view, there are three “but then” moments, during which the story is kicked into action.

For Jennifer, the unstable young mother, it is the day she finds out she will be going to jail for petty theft and child endangerment and neglect. Before that point, she had been determined to try to find a way to take care of her daughters, no matter what, but then decides that she is too dysfunctional—that they would be better off without her—and signs away her parental rights.

For Natalie, the youngest of Jennifer’s two girls, her trajectory changes the moment she asks her adoptive mother for more information about her birth mom, whom she knows nothing about, and is shocked when her adoptive mom reveals the fact that Natalie has an older sister—a secret that has been kept from Natalie for over thirty years. Natalie had initially planned on searching out her birth mother, but then decides that she needs to find her older sister, first, and is determined to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

For Brooke, the elder of Jennifer’s daughters, who grew up in a state facility and being bounced around from one foster home to the next, her life is spun into a new direction the night she realizes that she might be pregnant. Brooke is a bit of a loner, having always taken care of herself and not letting anyone close to her for fear of getting hurt. She finds herself pregnant and alone, terrified of raising a child on her own, but then a single phone call from an organization that links estranged family members changes her life forever.

What happens to all three of these women after their “but when” moments is the crux of why I wrote SOMEWHERE OUT THERE—to delve into how profound emotional loss affects us, and whether or not having been deprived of meaningful connection once in our lives keeps us from being able to experience it at all.

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somewhere out thereWhat happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Blind Date With A Book

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It’s a new month so we’re starting a new series. Because we’re crazy like that. And we have so many books we’ll never be able to read them all. Not to mention the fact that every time we get them sorted into tidy little piles the UPS guy drops fifty more on our doorstep. So we decided to share the love! Every Friday for the rest of the summer–and possible longer if you guys want us to keep it up–we’re going to send you on a blind date with a book. Which basically means that we’re going to grab one from the pile, wrap it up pretty, and give it away.

So let’s pretend this is a dating website and you’re feeling brave this weekend. Here’s what you need to know about your date:

It’s a newly released hardcover by a master of the South Carolina Lowcountry. It’s a beach read and the patriotic colors on the cover make it perfect for this holiday weekend. So, if you’re interested, and willing to meet this pretty stranger at a coffee shop near you, here’s how you can enter to win:

Follow us on Instagram.

Or like and/or comment on this Instagram post.

Easy enough, yes? We’ll pick a winner on Sunday. Good luck!

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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What Makes A Book Southern?

Today’s post by Kim Wright | @Kim_Wright_W

Kim WrightI get asked this all the time at conferences and readings. If you’re described as a southern writer, like I so often am, people immediately come back with “But what does that really mean?” They expect a better answer than merely telling them you happened to be born south of the Mason-Dixon line.

And then there’s the question of “Why does it even matter anymore?” At one time this country may have had distinct regional sections but now, thanks to the Starbucksination of America, every town looks alike. We all have the same stores and restaurants. Not to mention, this is a society on the move with most people living lots of places in the course of their lifetimes. Is regional identity even a real thing anymore?

I’d have to say yeah, it still matters. Here’s why.

What makes a book southern has nothing to do with what it’s about. People say southerners write about family and faith and place and race, but all writers write about those things. The same themes have been pretty much circulating since novels came into being, no matter where or when they were written. But I think a book is “southern” not because of what it’s about, but more because of how it’s written.

True southerners have a rambling, conversational style that’s born out of an oral storytelling tradition. There’s a feeling of “Pull up your rocker and have some sweet tea, cause honey, I’ve got a whale of a story to tell you.” (Or, if it’s the new south, “Let’s sit down at the cafe table and order some wine. Maybe a bottle. This is good.”) There’s the sense that the author is right there with you, leaning over and practically whispering in your ear, that something is being confessed.

I love these kinds of stories. I grew up on them. My grandfather could take twenty minutes and rope in a cast of fifteen characters just to tell you about going to the grocery store. Southerners don’t mind gossip and they thrive on exaggeration. They use Biblical language, even if they’re not particularly religious. They understand the fine art of the spin.

So when people call me a southern writer, I wear the badge proudly. I take it to mean that my books sound like they’re being spoken more than they sound like they were written, and that’s a good thing. So let’s have one more glass of wine and you can tell me all about your day.

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Las Ride to GracelandLauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

read more