Summer Reading Series: Laura Lane McNeal

Today’s post by author Laura Lane McNeal | @llmcneal

We’re delighted to welcome Laura Lane McNeal, author DOLLBABY, to the blog today. Laura has been kind enough to share her summer reading list with us, and, I have to admit, I’m reading several of these books myself this summer. And if you missed DOLLBABY when it released last year, no worries! It’s just come out in paperback.

Summer Reading Series

I love history and tend to lean toward historical fiction or history related books, but a good story is a good story, so in the summer I like to read books that just make me happy. There are so many good titles coming out this summer, and so many I’m trying to catch up on, so to narrow it down to four or five is tough. However, here’s my short list that includes multiple genres:


By Erik Larson

I’m a huge fan of Erik Larson. And since my next book takes place in the 1920’s, I’m enjoying reading books from around that same era. Dead Wake is the story of the Lusitania disaster in 1915. The luxury ocean liner, the Lusitania, sets sail from New York on its way to Liverpool. Germany has declared war, and the waters around Britain are now in a war zone. Civilian ships are, per the war code, safe from attack. But Germany is determined to change the rules of the game. Historical and dramatic, his novels read like fiction.


By Susan Crandall

Set in the rapidly changing world of the 1920’s, three people from very different backgrounds are set adrift by life-altering circumstances only to find themselves crisscrossing America’s heartland together, exploring the rapidly expanding roles of air racing, bootlegging and barnstorming. From the author of Whistling Past The Graveyard, Susan Crandall knows how to capture a time and place.


By Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. Heidi Wood invites the homeless young girl to take refuge in their home. What starts as an act of kindness soon forces Heidi to decide how far she will go to help a stranger. Mary Kubica is a master storyteller, weaving in storylines you won’t expect.


By Patti Callahan Henry

This is Patti’s twelfth novel, and she is a master of the love story in the low country of South Carolina. The Idea of Love is the story of a widow from a coastal town in South Carolina with a secret, and a Los Angeles screenwriter who is out of ideas and looking for his next big hit, and will do anything, tell any sort of lie, to get it. When they connect in what seems like fate, their stories begin to unravel. Patti is great at taking the reader to this part of the country and immersing them in a heartbreaking tale of love.


By Karen White

A woman inherits her dead husband’s estate in South Carolina, and along with it, the secrets of her husband’s unspoken past that forces her to face her own fears as she finds the courage to heal. A multi-layered mystery that will keep you up at night, Karen never ceases to amaze me with her story telling prowess.

* * *

DollbabyA big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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