Great books with local ties

Story by Denise Doucette Friday

Sunglasses? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Book? Here are three great suggestions for your beach bag and one coffee table book that would look great, right next to this issue of LOCAL Life.


For your next beach read

By Invitation Only

Sullivan’s Island native Dorothea Benton Frank lends a Southern persona to her characters in this family drama where a pending wedding will join a wealthy Chicago family to humble South Carolina peach farmers. The stress of planning a wedding turns out to be the least of anyone’s problems. From snow storms to crop damage to jail time, and everything in between, this book will keep you on your toes till the sweet conclusion of love, friendship, family and kindness conquering all. Frank uses humor and humility to show us you may not get the life you planned, but sometimes you get the life you need. Frank is the author of 20 books set in the Lowcountry.


For the poets among us

Theologies of Terrain

Tim Conroy finds spiritual meaning in the natural world, and what better backdrop than the beauty of the Lowcountry. The death of his famous brother spurred him to pursue his first book, and in its lovely language he juxtaposes the everyday marvels found in nature with the pain and complexities of growing up in the Conroy household. Readers get a glimpse of the love and pain of his younger years as well as his keen sense of wonder and healing. Tim Conroy is a graduate of University of South Carolina.


For your coffee table

Bluffton State of Mind: The Photography of Marge Agin

If you haven’t yet fallen in love with Bluffton, you will after you see Marge Agin’s photography. Images from the spectacular to the simple intersect with sketches by local Doug Corkern. Agin captures the personalities of Old Town Bluffton as well as the luxury of Palmetto Bluff and the simple pleasures of the May River. An added bonus are the personal essays from several locals including Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka, friends Emmett McCracken and Courtney Hampson. The most touching though are the heartfelt words of Amber Kuehn, owner of Spartina Marine Education Charters. Amber writes of her magical childhood on the banks of the May River that she didn’t quite realize how special it was until she left for school. Lucky for us she returned, not only to call Bluffton home again, but also to lead the charge in protecting the area loggerhead sea turtles. Marge Agin has published four books featuring photographs of Bluffton and the surrounding area.


For chasing away cold weather day blues

Winter in Paradise

Elin Hilderbrand is the darling writer of another island, Nantucket. Her first winter series was so well received she has embarked on another, this one set on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. Irene Steele, A Midwestern editor of a small magazine has her life upended when she receives a call that her beloved husband, Russell, has been killed in an accident at work. More shocking, she finds out he was on business in the Caribbean. She and her two sons, perplexed as to what Russell was doing on St. John, fly down to investigate. The unraveled tale exposes a mysterious plane crash, a secret life, and the alluring beauty of the island and its inhabitants. The three remaining Steele family members must confront Russell’s scandalous secrets and the state of their own lives and happiness. As usual, Hilderbrand delivers family drama, romance and beautiful beaches in the first installment of her Paradise series. Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket and has a son attending the University of South Carolina.


Must read Children’s historical fiction

The Sea Island’s Secret: A Delta and Jax Mystery

A fistful of bones and a mysterious treasure hunt—not quite what twelve-year-old Chicagoan Delta Wells is expecting when she arrives on Hilton Head Island to visit her grandparents for the summer. But when Pops tells her that his beloved Island History Museum might be demolished to make room for a golf resort, Delta visits the museum property and discovers a skeleton hidden in the marsh. The bones and a long-secret message from the past send Delta and her younger brother, Jax, on a race to unearth the island’s secrets, save their grandfather’s museum, and help complete a mission someone started more than 150 years ago. From the Civil War ruins of Hilton Head, to the site of the H. L Hunley submarine in Charleston and the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe in Columbia, Delta and Jax’s vacation is an exciting and educational adventure through local history.

Author Susan Diamond Riley is an award-winning author and editor, and a general lover of books. She has worked in the fields of publishing, journalism and education for more than 30 years, and has taught and tutored writing at the middle-, high-school and college levels. She holds a master of arts degree in children’s literature from the University of North Carolina—Charlotte, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, the Island Writers Network, and the South Carolina Writers Association. Now that her three children are all grown, she lives on an island in the sea with her husband/fellow adventurer, Steve, and their spoiled Weimaraner pup, Pippa.

Review: “Buckle up for some Lowcountry adventure: a spooky mystery seasoned with history dug straight out of the pluff mud and saltwater shore of Hilton Head island! Tremendous fun.”— New York Times bestselling author AJ Hartley