Book Spotlight: SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS by Haley Harrigan

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan 
ISBN: 9781492647553 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492647560 (ebook)
ASIN: B01MTEKJN8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark 
Publication Date: June 6, 2017 


In this powerful, affecting debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed 

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death. 

In fact, she may not be responsible at all.



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Praise:

“Harrigan is a great prose stylist who knows how to sustain the tension and tone required of a Southern Gothic novel. Her writing is evocative and atmospheric, whether the action takes place under the bright lights of Manhattan or in Mississippi’s weedy heat. ” – ForeWord

“Harrigan’s novel, part mystery and part coming-of-age, explores the process of healing from tragedies and misunderstandings.” – Publishers Weekly

“A twisting, sensuous novel about first love and innocence lost.”-Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling author of Cover of Snow, Ruin Falls, and As Night Falls

“Haley Harrigan takes us on a searing emotional journey to a tragic past in sensual and evocative prose.  Holds you to the last word.” —Carol Goodman, author of The Widow’s House

“Heartachingly beautiful, Secrets of Southern Girls is a compelling tale about lost love and childhood regrets. This is masterfully written, shifting from past to present as the story unfolds to expose the haunting truth of one girl’s desire to be loved and the dangerous secret she possesses. Harrigan’s debut is a captivating read that won’t let you go until the very last page.” -Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of Everything We Keep and All the Breaking Waves

“Haley Harrigan’s Secrets of Southern Girls is filled with evocative, poetic imagery, relatable characters, and ingenious plot twists that kept me turning pages long into the night! A beautiful, engaging debut by a delightful and talented new author.” –Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow


Meet the author:




Haley Harrigan graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in creative writing and public relations. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband. Secrets of Southern Girls is her debut.  

Visit her website at www.haleyharrigan.com or on Twitter @HCHarrigan





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Enter to win the “Summer Reads” prize pack including a print copy of Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan. This giveaway sponsored and managed by Sourcebooks Landmark. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.


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Secrets of Southern Girls: A Novel

Secrets of Southern Girls: A Novel

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Secrets of Southern Girls

2015 Book 385: THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
ISBN: 9781492623441 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492623458 (ebook)
ASIN: B0108GOL9Q (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 19, 2016 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love. 



Sara, a Swedish bookseller, has been pen pals with Amy, an American from Broken Wheel, Iowa for two years. Now that Sara is unemployed, she has decided to take a vacation to the US and accept the invitation to stay with Amy for a few months. Sara’s plans change when she arrives in Broken Wheel and finds out that Amy has died. Faced with a two-month vacation in Iowa and a non-refundable plane ticket, Sara decides to make the best of a bad situation and pays homage to her love of books and attempts to repay a town’s kindness in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

Sara Lindqvist has never been a spontaneous person, but since becoming unemployed in Sweden, she decided to take her pen pal Amy up on her offer to stay with her in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Sara is looking forward to two months with her friend, spending time discussing books rather than writing about books, and reading. Her family doesn’t understand why she’s going to Iowa rather than New York or California and when they’re told that her friend has died their limited ability to understand Sara and her choices disappears completely. Sara is now in a foreign land without her friend Amy as a buffer, but she has come to know the residents of Broken Wheel through Amy’s letters. The only thing she can think of doing in order to repay the kindness of the town’s residents is to open a bookstore and share Amy’s books and Sara’s love of books and reading. Sara only has two months to make readers of the residents of Broken Wheel and her efforts are met with suspicion, laughter, and awe. Sara’s efforts quickly bring the town’s residents together and before you know it, the residents have fallen in love with Sara just as she has fallen in love with them. No one wants Sara to leave, but can a mutual love-fest built on books be enough to keep Sara in the US legally?

I enjoyed The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. (What’s not to love about a story dealing with books and reading?) Sara isn’t your typical heroine, as she is somewhat shy and reserved, except when it’s time to talk books. Sara and Amy had a special friendship built on their mutual love of books, and Sara is spreading the joy. This story is a romance (between Sara and the town’s residents as well as one particular resident…read the story to find out more) and is filled with humor and touches of sadness. The characters are wholly believable with their quirks and antics to help Sara out upon her arrival and then to keep Sara in the US. Yes, there’s a lot more going on in this story such as the survival of a small town despite all the economic hardships it faces, residents struggling with love lost and love found, and more. I found this to be a fast-paced read and one that I can heartily recommend to anyone that enjoys romance or simply reading about books and reading. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Bivald in the future. Make sure you put The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend on your TBR list, you won’t regret it.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2015 Book 318: NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 9781402258640 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781402258657 (ebook)
ASIN: B00VGY4RA8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 (Originally published in 1997)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS

The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift – conveniently in search of an agent – is the deciding factor. On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen’s baby arouses painful memories of Lyn’s own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen’s baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen’s dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.


Lynette Ravenshaw is a widowed literary agent in London, presumed to still be grieving the loss of her son during childbirth. At the request of one of the authors she represents, Bridget Cooper, she decides to head to Wales for the Christmas holidays. They will be staying with an award-nominated author looking for a new agent. What she doesn’t know is that Bridget is looking to seduce a local playwright and only wants Lyn to accompany her for the express purposes of keeping company with their host in Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley.

Bridget Cooper is a popular author with a reputation of being difficult. Lynette, or Lyn, has been Bridget’s agent for four years, and although she finds Bridget taxing at times she actually likes her. It is primarily for this reason that she decides to forego her family’s Christmas in Canada and travels to Wales for the holiday with Bridget. Unbeknownst to either of them, the next door neighbor to their host is also widowed and with an infant son. Elen Vaughan might be considered flighty or taken with flights of fancy, but she thinks she’s heard the voice of Merlin and dreams that the “white dragon” from the local tower is after her son. Being exposed to an infant is difficult enough for Lyn, but her dreams seem to be mirrors of Elen’s dreams. Is this the reason that Elen has latched onto Lyn as the one meant to save her son? 

Named of the Dragon is a reprint of an older title by Ms. Kearsley and I’m glad it’s back in print. This particular story takes elements of Arthurian legend and Merlin’s prophecies, mixed with the history of the Tudor family, specifically Henry VII, into a modern story of a fatherless son, a whimsical mother sworn to protect her child, and the mystery surrounding his paternity. Added into the mix is the friendship between Lyn and the local playwright, Bridget’s quest to seduce the local playwright, and the author hosting their holiday visit plans to romance Bridget. Yes, it does sound deliciously twisted, but Ms. Kearsley takes these twists and provides a delightful story that borders on being gothic. I found this to be a fast-paced read and was only slowed down by several severe migraine headaches. (I hated putting Named of the Dragon aside, but since it was difficult to hold my head upright I allowed the migraine to override my reading preference.) I enjoyed the history, folklore, and legends provided in the story, as well as the romance and intrigue. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Kearsley then Named of the Dragon is a good place to start. If you’ve read any of her current works, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Named of the Dragon. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Kearsley in the future. 


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 427: PERDITA by Hilary Scharper

Perdita by Hilary Scharper
ISBN: 9781492602446 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492602453 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M1UM7N0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


Marged Brice is 134 years old.

She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death.

It’s life that’s much more mysterious…


As a historian Garth Hellyer has met people from all walks of life. One of the many things he does in his work with the Longevity Project is validating and confirming the ages of people over the age of one hundred. Garth enjoys the work and the people he meets, but Marged Brice is quite unlike anyone he’s ever met before. First of all she claims to be 134 years old and even produces a birth certificate to prove her age. Unfortunately that one piece of paper isn’t enough to confirm her age or identity. The only other thing she has to offer are her diaries . . . and Perdita.

Perdita is a story of the early 1890s and the present. Marged’s story is told via diaries written over the course of a few years in her young adult life. She writes of living with her father, mother, aunt and uncle, as well as her father and uncle’s job tending the lighthouse. Marged is an intelligent young woman and seems to be one with the wild nature she is surrounded by on the bay. She tutors the children of visiting summer families and works with one of Canada’s famed naturalists, Dr. McTeague. She also falls in love with a beloved Canadian artist, George Stewart, as well as with a physician, Dr. Andrew Reid. Her story is unusual only in that she has lived for so long. Garth’s story is the contemporary tale and is filled with his attempts to uncover the truth about Marged. Garth’s story is also about love and loss, just as much as Marged’s story. The final element in this story is Perdita. There are bits of the superstitious and paranormal woven into Marged’s story — ghosts in the graveyard and a ghostly presence at a séance, but these pale in comparison to Perdita. Is Perdita the ghost of a dead child? Is she the love-child of a Greek god? Or is she the figment of Marged’s imagination?

I enjoyed reading Perdita although I felt it dragged at times, namely in a few of Marged’s diary entries. Ms. Scharper has done an amazing job of creating images within this reader’s mind of the beauty and savagery of the Georgian Bay with her highly descriptive words. I liked getting to know about the daily duties of Marged’s life in the late 1890s. Perdita is not just a story within a story, but a story within a story within a story as the reader learns about Marged, Garth, and the lost tale of Perdita. Would the story have been the same without the supernatural presence of Perdita? Could Marged’s story have been as convincing without Perdita? Probably not. What I can say is that if you enjoy reading books that combine historical and contemporary storylines then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Perdita to read.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book Showcase: PERDITA by Hilary Scharper

Perdita by Hilary Scharper
ISBN: 9781492602446 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492602453 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M1UM7N0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark



“Stunning…richly complex and unpredictable.” —Historical Novel Review

Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it weren’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief…or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death. It’s life that’s much more mysterious…




Excerpt


MARGED BRICE

Cape Prius—1897

July 3

Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance….

“The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly.

I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon….

The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water.

Then—”There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline.

And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore.

“Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.




About the Author

Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.



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