Bookshelf of LOCAL Life Magazines

We present you with books that are worth the read. We specifically curated these selections with our LOCAL Life audience in mind. Browse our bookcase below as we have grouped them by theme. All selections by Denise Friday.


Vintage reads

Essential books for every wine lover’s library.

Merlot in Maine by Jan Romes

Merlot in Maine  | By Jan Romes 

Four female friends decide to sell everything in Ohio and road trip to Maine to purchase and run a bed & breakfast.  None of them have experience running a bed & breakfast, but no matter. The trip itself is filled with outrageous antics, some danger, doubt and a whole lot of craziness as these women cement their friendships and really learn what it means to have friends you can count on. They must figure out their own individual paths as they navigate running a business together. There are lots of laughs, tears, men and, of course, wine.

The Vineyard by Barbara Dellinsky

The Vineyard  | By Barbara Dellinsky

Olivia Jones is a single mom working in New York at a job about to end. A great opportunity arrives, albeit temporary, at a vineyard in Rhode Island. Natalie Seebring is the successful vineyardist offering Olivia a job. After Natalie loses her husband of 50-plus years, she surprises her children by announcing her engagement to the vineyard manager. She needs Olivia as her assistant and for moral support. A sweet story of second chances, all the way around.

Murder In The Wine Country by Janet Finsilver

Murder In The Wine Country | By Janet Finsilver  

Kelly Jackson is the manager of a bed & breakfast in Northern California. She is excited to participate in a community event to raise awareness for struggling veterans. There is a culinary competition, and local wineries will host tastings. But when a wine consultant is murdered, everyone appears to be a suspect, from a jealous husband to international poachers of the protected Dudleya succulent. A cozy mystery that will keep you guessing whodunit, and why. 

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker’s Wife   | By Kristin Harmel 

Alternatively set between 1940 and 2019, a masterful historical fiction about a successful vineyard in the Champagne region of France. When the Germans invade Poland, the owners of a famous winery begin to hide priceless bottles in secret caves under the wine house. Modern day Liv Kent has a visit from her very elderly eccentric grandmother, who insists on a trip to France. The past and present merge as family secrets are revealed and confessed. Beautifully written.

Cork Dork Book Cover

Cork Dork   | By Bianca Bosker 

Part wine book, part biography, journalist Bianca Bosker immerses herself in the world of wine by learning, tasting, judging and studying to become a master sommelier. Her aim is to bring the reader knowledge and in-depth information on vineyards, hunts for big bottles and the science of wine tasting. A must read for serious wine lovers or those who want to learn more about their favorite beverage. Funny, juicy and informative.


Beyond the bestseller list

Discover the untold wonders of these lesser-known literary treasures.

The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans

The Smoke Jumper  | By Nicholas Evans 

British author Evans is better known for his first novel, The Horse Whisperer, but this story is worth the read. Set in Montana and Africa, it introduces you to the dangerous life of smoke jumpers, firefighters who drop from the sky to battle forest fires. Evans has a way of making the scenery its own character, and his descriptions will make you want to plan a trip or two. 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry  | By Gabrielle Zevin 

Perhaps you recognize Zevin as the author of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, the 2022 bestseller. But if you have not delved into the life of Mr. Fikry, you are in for a treat. This is such a sweet story and a must for book lovers. You will see Fikry transform from a lonely curmudgeon whose bookstore is failing to a man who experiences a second chance with his livelihood, love and his life. It will affirm for you why books are so magical in the first place.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Left Neglected | By Lisa Genova 

Of course you have read, seen or heard of Still Alice, the blockbuster fictional story about living with Alzheimer’s disease. Genova is a national treasure, creating her own genre of fiction that teaches about neurological disorders better than a textbook. Sarah is an over-scheduled overachiever, whose life changes in a moment when a car accident leads to a traumatic brain injury. A touching story that is also entertaining and amazingly educational.

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

Body Surfing  | By Anita Shreve 

Most have heard of The Pilot’s Wife, but Shreve has written many other great books. Just ask me about them, because I have read them all. It’s the story of 29-year-old Sydney, who takes a tutoring job at a beach house in New Hampshire. She is trying to figure out her life after being divorced and widowed. Shreve is the master of a slow burn, with deep insight into emotions, love, wit and brilliant, expressive language.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks  | By E. Lockhart 

Fans of We Were Liars might love this book, or they may not. They are very different stories, but I recommend both to any YA fan. It’s about a fancy private school, an underestimated girl (Frankie), arrogant boys, secret societies, over-the-top pranks, strong female supporting characters, laugh-out-loud humor and a girl who is not content with just looking pretty, who does not feel superior but wants to feel equal. Empowering.


Literary resolutions

Bookmark-worthy new releases to kick off the new year

The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins

The Heiress | By Rachel Hawkins. 

Widower Ruby McTavish is the wealthiest woman in North Carolina. When she dies, she leaves her fortune to her adopted son, Camden. He wants nothing to do with the money or the family, but years later he and his wife get pulled back in. Nothing is as it seems, and questions arise about his mother’s notorious kidnapping as a child and the mysterious deaths of her four husbands. Release date: January 9

Only If You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham

Only If You’re Lucky | By Stacy Willingham. 

Margot is a college student in SC. She is introverted and withdrawn, mourning the death of her high school best friend right after graduation. When she meets Lucy, an out-going girl the opposite of her, they become close friends and move into an off-campus house with two other girls. Things seem to be better for Margot until Lucy goes missing and a fraternity boy from the house next door is savagely murdered. A story full of surprises from this Charleston author. Release date: January 16

The Teacher By Freida McFadden

The Teacher | By Freida McFadden 

McFadden’s books are full of twists and turns. As soon as you think you know what is happening, a new plot path appears. Eve and her husband, Nate, are high school teachers. Life is good until Eve finds that a girl who was in the center of a scandal the previous year is now in her class. Addie is a dangerous student who can’t be trusted. Or is she? What is the real story? Release date: February 6

The Women by Kristen Hannah

The Women | By Kristen Hannah

In 1965 twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath felt a pull to join the Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam after her brother shipped out. She is changed by what she sees and unprepared for the political climate when she returns home. This is Frankie’s story but also a story of all women who have put themselves in harm’s way for their country or to help others. Release date: February 6

The New Couple in 5B by Lisa Unger

The New Couple in 5B | By Lisa Unger

Rosie and Chad Lowan are struggling financially when Chad inherits his uncle’s luxury NYC apartment in beautiful Murray Hill. It seems like a dream come true until the building’s mysterious past starts to surface. Creepy things happen, but when one of the neighbors turns up dead, Rosie is desperate not to fall victim to this haunted building. Release date: March 5

Becoming Madam Secretary By Stephanie Dray

Becoming Madam Secretary | By Stephanie Dray

A captivating novel about American heroine Frances Perkins, who pulled the nation out of the Great Depression as the U.S. Secretary of Labor. As a young activist, she met lawyer Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Over the next 20 years they will form a historic partnership that will carry them both to the White House, all while balancing the demands of marriage and motherhood. Release date: March 12


Literary landscapes

Crave-worthy books for your coffee table

Gullah Spirit Book Cover

Gullah Spirit: The Art of Jonathan Green | By Jonathan Green 

If you are not lucky enough to have a Johanthan Green hanging on your wall, one of his beautiful coffee table books is the next best thing. Bright, bold depictions of Gullah daily life among the marshes in the Lowcountry show off these 179 newer paintings by Green. See more of his work at The Red Piano Art Gallery in Bluffton.

Edisto River | By Larry Price 

Edisto River | By Larry Price 

Naturalist photographer Larry Price has documented this 250- plus-mile river with over 300 photographs. Edisto is one of the most important rivers in North America with 87 freshwater and 120 saltwater species of fish identified in its basin.

Beholding Nature | By Eric Horan 

Beholding Nature | By Eric Horan 

Eric Horan is a global environmental and commercial photographer and certified master naturalist. Honestly, just flipping through this book and seeing these extraordinary photos is enough to make you get outside and refocus on the beauty of the Lowcountry. Awe-inspiring.

100 years of Making Marines | By the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island

100 years of Making Marines | By the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island

This fascinating and richly researched historical masterpiece is a must for military buffs and fans of Beaufort history. Plenty of photographs and newspaper clippings of the changes, celebrations and scandals that took place on Parris island over its 100-year history.

Art of Acadia | By David Little and Carl Little 

Art of Acadia | By David Little and Carl Little 

Get a taste of Coastal Maine. The stunning area of Mount Desert Island and the Acadia area is depicted in various art forms from the early 1900s to present day, including beautiful oils by Charles E. Kinkead and Jennifer Holmes.


First-time charms

Brilliantly creative debut novels that dazzle from the opening line

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry | By Bonnie Garmus

Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist who falls in love with Calvin Evans, an equally brilliant co-worker who teaches her, of all things, to row.  It is hard for her to get her male professors or bosses to take her seriously as a scientist in the early 1960s, so she reluctantly ends up on a cooking show called Supper at Six. Preferring a lab coat to an apron, she instructs women that cooking is chemistry, and they are capable of anything because they already do everything. It is as funny as it is infuriating, with fantastic characters from a meddling neighbor to a dog named 6:30. I loved it.

Pearl by Siân Hughes

Pearl | By Siân Hughes 

A beautifully written saga on grief and how it can follow and affect someone throughout their life. When Marianne was 8, her mother disappeared in a mysterious way, leaving her father to raise her and her baby brother. Mourning her mother never ends, due to the looming question of her disappearance. It remains stubbornly in the forefront of Marianne’s life, even after she has her own daughter. Told with compassion and humor, Hughes lets the story unfold while reminding you this one event has the ability to forge its own path if you let it. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine | By Gail Honeyman 

This story is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking. Eleanor is an odd woman who works an average office job and is quite FINE with just existing. Her time away from work consists of frozen meals, chats with Mummy and being alone. Until by chance she and her co-worker, Raymond, happen to help an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk. The three form an unusual bond, and slowly the reader learns the traumatic events of Eleanor’s childhood. Raymond’s persistence in being a good friend, together with a rescued cat, not only bring Eleanor out of her shell, but saves her life.  

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures | By Shelby Van Pelt 

Marcellus is an octopus that lives in the Sowell Bay Aquarium in Washington state. He narrates directly to the reader his thoughts on being held captive. Amazingly he forms a friendship with the widowed cleaning lady, Tova, who enjoys his company while she works. She lost her son in a boating incident when he was 18, and her sadness is palpable. Through his brilliant deductions, Marcellus sets about solving the 30-year mystery of her son’s death and brings an unexpected joy to her future she never dreamed possible. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push | By Ashley Audrain 

Fans of chilling family drama will love this debut by Audrain. Blythe and her husband are expecting their first child. Blythe is nervous about being a good mother: we see in flashbacks how her mother and grandmother were dysfunctional and withholding of love. When Violet is born, she is convinced there is something really wrong with her behavior. Her husband and in-laws think she is being dramatic. The less she is believed, the more she doubts her own sanity. She has a completely different experience with her second child, Sam, which leads to more confusion of reality. A fast-paced, emotional roller-coaster that is hard to put down. 


Automotive epics

Rev up your reading list with these essential car-related reads.

Christine By Stephen King Book Cover

Christine | By Stephen King

It would be difficult to assemble a list of books that feature cars without this well-known favorite. Set in the late ’70s, a nerdy teen, Arnie, and his friend, Dennis, notice a beat-up 1958 Plymouth Fury in a junkyard. After Arnie buys it and stores it in a you-fix-it garage, he notices the car has unusual powers. It begins to restore itself, and Arnie begins to physically change also. After a number of suspicious deaths, it’s clear the car has a murderous side and will stop at nothing to preserve itself and the spirit of its previous owner. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein Book Cover

The Art of Racing in the Rain | By Garth Stein

A heartwarming and adorable story about a dog named Enzo who loves car racing almost as much as his race car-driving owner, Denny. Denny eventually marries (Eve) and has a daughter (Zoe), and Enzo is there to narrate the entire story.  They are a wonderful little family until Zoe gets very sick and Eve’s parents intervene to try to get custody of Zoe. Denny and Enzo fight for what they love the most: their family and car racing. The perspective from Enzo is unique and endearing.

The Lincoln Highway By Amor Towles Book Cover

The Lincoln Highway | By Amor Towles 

Set in 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson arrives home after time in juvenile detention. He collects his little brother and heads off for a fresh start. Much to his surprise, two boys he met in detention have latched onto his trip, and the four set off on an action-packed road trip across the U.S. over a 10-day period. Along the way they meet mischief and mercy, kindness and trouble. It is an adventure you will be happy to join. The cast of characters are well-developed and memorable.  A delightful read.

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby By Tom Wolfe Book Cover

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby | By Tom Wolfe 

In his first book, and an introduction to his unique writing style, Wolfe wrote a series of essays that focused on the American car and its link to pop culture in the ‘60s. The book takes a satirical look at the trends, customization, crazy car-as-art in California as well as the down-and-dirty stock-car racing in the South. He pokes fun at the well-off and celebrities, and his banter is as entertaining now as it was when published in 1964: the car book you didn’t know you needed to read.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead By Olga Tokarczuk Book Cover

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead | By Olga Tokarczuk 

A departure from typical car narratives, this novel offers a deep dive into the human psyche, set against a backdrop of a remote Polish village. The protagonist, Janina Duszejko, an elderly woman, is a firm believer in astrology and interprets the world around her using this belief. When a series of mysterious deaths hit the village, all linked with a local hunting club, Janina is convinced she knows the culprits and dives deep into an investigation of her own. Though not a typical car story, vehicles and movement are instrumental to the tale, serving as metaphors for life’s journeys and the paths we choose.


Nocturnal thrills

Books that haunt your thoughts long after dark.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark 
By Riley Sager

When her parents bought Baneberry Hall, an imposing estate in a small Vermont town, Maggie Holt was 5 years old. Twenty days after moving in they fled in the middle of the night. Her dad then wrote a best-selling book about their experience, detailing the ghost story that drove them away. Twenty-five years later, Maggie returns to the house to renovate and sell it. Maggie does not believe in ghosts and thinks her parents are liars. However, the house has a past that is unwilling to move on so quickly. Do not read this book in the dark!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places
By Gillian Flynn

When Libby Day was 7, her mom and two sisters were murdered in their home in the middle of the night. She ran from the house and hid. Her testimony put her 15-year-old brother, Ben, behind bars. Twenty-four years later she is contacted by a true crime group that thinks her brother is innocent. As Libby starts to consider her brother’s innocence, a list forms of suspects who had a motive. Will the truth set Ben free or place Libby in danger? This book is not for the squeamish but is full of twists that will keep you reading ’til the final shocking end. 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter
 By Blake Crouch

Jason Dessen, a college physics professor, was living a normal, happy life when he was abducted and knocked out. When he comes to, he is himself, but his life is different. He has no son, he has a different wife, and he is a celebrated scientific genius. Part thriller, part science fiction, the questions arise; what would your life be like if you chose a different path? Which is the better life? What would you sacrifice to have the life you want? An amazing read that will surprise you at every turn.

I’ll Be Gone in The Dark 
By Michelle McNamara

From the mid-‘70s to the mid-‘80s a violent, unknown predator terrorized Northern California with a series of rapes, then murders, carried out by home invasions and a ski mask. He was never caught. Thirty years later McNamara began relentless research on the serial rapist/murderer she named the Golden State Killer. She wrote in-depth about the relentless police work and attempts to find this person, including the later discovery of DNA fingerprinting and how it connected the predator to over 50 crimes, science that was not available in the ’70s. If you are a fan of true crime, you don’t want to miss this obsessive journey to identify a killer.

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient
By Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson is a successful painter, and she lives in a luxurious house in London with her husband, Gabriel. Alicia’s world shatters when Gabriel is found dead with multiple gunshot wounds, and beside him is Alicia, covered in his blood, holding the gun. She doesn’t speak another word after that incident. Instead she communicates her side of the story through a haunting self-portrait, which she titles “Alcestis.” Alicia is admitted to The Grove, a secure psychiatric facility, where she remains mute. Sleep with the lights on after this one!

All Is Now Lost by Laura Elizabeth

Local spotlight: 

All Is Now Lost
By Laura Elizabeth

The first book of The Island Mysteries Series, All Is Now Lost takes place on fictional Mongin Island, which, after a few pages in, any local will recognize as Daufuskie. Carr Jepson has recently moved to Mongin after the sudden death of her husband. She decides to open a book store that will serve as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike to meet, sit, read and come together over their love of the island. When a beloved local realtor turns up dead, Carr and her friends start sleuthing to find the killer and protect the locals.


High-flying tales of love and adventure

Summer reading is in the air

Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison

Hotel Laguna
By Nicola Harrison

Hazel Francis is helping the war effort by building planes in her “Rosie the Riveter” job. She is quite talented at it and is promoted up the ranks until the war ends and men return to reclaim their jobs. With nowhere to return to in her hometown in Kansas, she lands in Laguna Beach and quickly secures a job with an eclectic but famous artist as his assistant. She involves herself with the town’s production of the Pageant of the Masters (a real event that still occurs) where works of art are recreated using real people as living pictures. A historical fiction that involves scandal and love, art and planes. Definitely worth a beach read.

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise
By Colleen Oakley

Tanner, a college drop-out who only really wants to play video games, needs a job and a place to live. Louise Wilt’s daughter thinks she needs a caregiver after a slip on a rug. The 21-year-old and 84-year-old live together in equal discomfort. Then one day on the news, Tanner sees a computer-generated image of a jewel thief that looks remarkably like Louise. When Louise insists on a road trip, fun and friendship begin. This adorable book will restore your faith in age being just a number when it comes to adventure.

Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

Flying Solo
By Linda Holmes

Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown after her wedding is called off. She busies herself by handling the estate of her great-aunt, Dot, who was 93 and never married. Hidden among her things, Laurie finds a wooden duck with a love letter attached. It seems worthless, until it suspiciously disappears. She becomes embroiled in the secrets of Dot’s life and the search for the duck. She becomes quite the sleuth, both for diving into the mystery and also for learning from Dot that she can have love and happiness without marriage and a family.

On Gin Lane by Brooke Lea Foster

On Gin Lane 
By Brooke Lea Foster

It’s the summer of 1957, and New York socialite Everleigh Farrows has finally satisfied her parents by finding a handsome fiancé willing to marry her after her last failed engagement. He has a delightful surprise for her in Southampton, a beach-side hotel named after her and a leisurely summer spent poolside with other Manhattanites. Yet when the hotel burns down opening weekend, Everleigh fills her time working for a famous photographer while the investigation drags on to find who is responsible. Everyone appears to be a suspect, including Everleigh, who is slowly pulling away from the life she was born into and attempts to discover the life she really wants to live. 

Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown

Wingwalkers
By Taylor Brown

Zeno, a former WWI ace pilot, and Della, his wing-walking wife, travel around the U.S. performing acts of daring aerial feats. This romantic couple works their way across the South in order to fund travels to California during the Depression. Along the way they meet many people and sometimes have altercations on the ground and in the air. Alternately, the story is told of William Faulkner’s passion for aviation and attempts to become a pilot, until the author and the dare-devil couple have a chance encounter in New Orleans. Part American history and part love story, Brown, a coastal Georgia native, has produced a historical fiction that is hard to put down.


Journey into the enigmatic South

Embark on a literary adventure into the haunting and mesmerizing world of Southern Gothic.

As I Lay Dying Book Cover

As I Lay Dying
By William Faulkner

Written in the 1930s, this is a story of a poor, rural family attempting to honor the last wish of matriarch Addie Bundren, to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. The book is narrated by 15 different characters, including her husband, children and sometimes Addie herself. The book begins with an ill Addie watching out a window as her son builds her coffin. The trek by wagon includes the corpse in the coffin, the husband, five children and some mules. There are ill-fated river crossings, an accidental barn-burning, a broken leg and a series of unfortunate setbacks and difficulties. Faulkner’s prose is not for everyone, but his Southern Gothic is exemplary and was an inspiration for the likes of Cormac McCarthy.

No Country for Old Men Book Cover

No Country for Old Men
By Cormac McCarthy

While out hunting near the Texas-Mexico border, Vietnam vet Llewellyn Moss comes across several dead bodies surrounding a pickup truck with heroin and $2 million in it. Moss cannot resist the money, thereby setting off a series of events that lead to horrific violence and being pursued by a mysterious psychopath. The sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, does his best to investigate the trail of crimes that result from Moss’s decision but ultimately feels outmatched by the senseless deaths. Not many can write pure violence like McCarthy.

The Little Friend By Donna Tartt

The Little Friend
By Donna Tartt

In a sleepy town in Mississippi, a young boy, Robin, was found hanging from a tree in his own yard on Mother’s Day. Twelve years later his murder is still a mystery. Robin’s 12 1/2-year-old sister, Harriet, a voracious reader and determined soul, sets out to find the killer. Yet this is not a murder mystery. It is a skillfully told story of class in the South, of race also, but more of lives that end up where they are because of the families they were born to or what they’ve endured, such as the death of a child. The ending may make you smile, confust you or anger you, but it will evoke a strong reaction nevertheless. I think you either greatly appreciate the brilliant writing of Tartt or you don’t. For me, I’m a huge fan.

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor

The Violent Bear It Away 
By Flannery O’Connor 

At a young age Francis Tarwater was an orphan left in his uncle, Rayber’s, care. He is soon kidnapped by his great-uncle, Mason, and raised in the isolated backwoods of Tennessee making moonshine and being brainwashed to become a prophet. When Mason dies, Francis, now 14, makes his way back to Rayber. Rayber was also kidnapped as a child by Mason, and the result is Francis and Rayber struggling with their extreme fundamentalist upbringing and the desire to resist the crazy teachings of Mason. The result is brutal: digging into mental illness, religious fanaticism and sheer violence. O’Connor is the definition of Southern Gothic.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing
By Jesmyn Ward

Thirteen-year-old Jojo and his 3-year-old sister live with their grandparents on the Gulf of Mississippi. Their dad is in prison, and their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, is in and out of their lives. Jojo is more a parent to his sister than either his mom or dad, and he accepts this with quiet defeat. When Leonie is high, she is visited by the ghost of her brother, who was shot by a white man in an alleged hunting accident. When the dad is released from prison, Leonie packs up her children and a friend and drives across the state to retrieve him in an attempt to make her family whole again. The trip is filled with hope and promise, but also misery and resignation. Ward is brilliant at creating sympathy for people who do bad things and for portraying the complexities of the South in all its splendor and misery.  


Covered in blooms

Five great books with ‘flowery’ titles 

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

The Heirloom Garden
By Viola Shipman 

In 1944 while working in her Victory Garden, Iris Maynard receives the news no wife wants to hear: her husband has been killed in the war. Forward to 2003, and Abby Peterson has moved into a rented house in Highland Park, Michigan. Her husband suffers from PTSD from the Iraq war, and she is struggling as a working mom and trying to get her husband the help he needs. Iris does not want to like, never mind interact, with her new renters, but she strikes up a friendship with their daughter, Lily, and is intrigued. She and Abby are drawn together over her beautiful garden, and they help each other survive the trauma of war while finding hope and promise in flowers.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls 
By Martha Hall Kelly 

Based on a true story of a group of Polish women who were together in a concentration camp and were used as experimental ‘rabbits’ to study medical treatments for soldiers. The story follows three women. New York City socialite Caroline Ferriday befriends this group and brings them to the U.S. after World War II for medical treatment. Herta Oberheuse was the only female Nazi doctor at Ravensbrück, and Kasia is a composite character based on several of the Polish “rabbits.” A very ambitious first novel of a little-known amazing story. Beautifully written.

The language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh 

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, sweet peas for goodbye, red roses for love. Victoria Jones has spent her childhood in the foster-care system and has trouble trusting anyone. At eighteen she prefers homelessness in a park to people. She eventually uses her knowledge of flowers to help others and start her own business. Victoria is not always likable and makes self-destructive choices, but her transformation from “root-less moss” to “I surmount all obstacles mistletoe” is beautiful to witness. With each bad choice, you continue to root for her eventual re-growth.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Magnolia Palace 
By Fiona Davis 

After losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, highly sought-after artists’ model Lillian is struggling and in need of stable work. She takes a job as a private secretary for Helen Frick in her New York City mansion. There she is pulled into a web of deceit and family drama. Fifty years later the Frick Manson has been converted to a beautiful museum. Veronica, a model doing a shoot in the museum, happens upon hidden messages that lead her and the museum curator to clues about stolen jewels and a Frick family murder that was never solved. A masterful historical thriller.

The last Garden In England by Julia Kelly

The Last Garden In England
By Julia Kelly

A masterfully woven tale of five women living during different time periods who are connected by a single garden. In1904 talented Venetia Smith is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House in England. This will ultimately alter her life. Forty years later the mistress of the house is trying to hold on to her life before the war as her home is converted to a hospital for wounded soldiers. Her cook is desperate to get out and pursue her dreams, while the land girl, Beth, embraces the hard work and house. These three get drawn into a secret that endures for decades. Present day; designer Emma Lovett has been given a great opportunity to restore the Highbury House gardens back to their 1907 glory. She uncovers the long-lost secrets that the gardens have been keeping.


Hello birdie

Golf and bird-related books worth adding to your bookshelf. 

Perky Carolina Wren

The Carolina Wren and Other South Carolina Birds
By Beth G. Causey 

See other facts and pictures from this hardcover in Beaufort County libraries. Here are some interesting facts about the South Carolina state bird, the Carolina wren:

  • It was adopted as the state bird in 1948, replacing the mockingbird.
  • It lives year-round in South Carolina but can be found along the East Coast from Canada to Florida and west to Texas.
  • A female lays up to three sets of eggs per year. They take 14-16 days to hatch. The hatchlings leave the nest within two weeks, but the parents continue to visit them and feed them for a month.
  • There are many wrens, but the Carolina wren male is the only one who sings loudly to attract a mate (rather than the female). 
  • The wren parents build a nest together, and they remain together for life.
  • It sings a high-pitched song that sounds like a fast-whistled “tea-kettle-tea-kettle-tea-kettle-tea.”
The Legend of Bagger Vance

The Legend of Bagger Vance
By Steven Pressfield 

Set during the Depression era in 1931, two golf legends agree to a match-play event in an effort to revive the area of Georgia on Krewe Island outside of Savannah. Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen meet for a 36-hole showdown and are joined by Savannah local and war hero Rannulph Junah. His caddy, Bagger Vance, takes on an angel-like role for all players involved in their pursuits of golf, and in life. In the movie, made in 2000, locals will recognize the Lucas Theatre and Forsyth Park in Savannah, The Jekyll Island Club Hotel and the Pete Dye course at Colleton River Club, which acts as the fictional Krewe Island.

Birds of Coastal South Carolina

Birds of Coastal South Carolina
By Roger S. Everett 

Author and photographer Everett has captured beautiful images of the many bird species that live in and migrate through the South Carolina coast. The book is divided by habitats, so you can see which birds you are most likely to find in your backyard, during a walk in the woods or along the beach. The author’s captions are concise and informative and will open your eyes to the more common species of wrens, chickadees and cardinals, as well as the abundant but spectacular great egret, great blue heron, osprey and red-tailed hawk. The rarer birds include the yellow-headed blackbird, Caspian tern and golden-crowned kinglet.

A Good Walk Spoiled Book Cover

A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour 
By John Feinstein 

An oldie but goodie. The author traveled with PGA TOUR golfers for a year in the mid-‘90s. It features golfing greats and newcomers who are struggling to make a go of the tour. Read about Nick Price, Paul Azinger, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and wild-card John Daly as well as young up-comers Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. There are insights from players on family life while on the road and issues such as divorce, cancer, injuries and the pressures of Q-school, all in the pursuit of winning. An interesting read to compare how golf was then and how much the tour has changed.


Ocean lovers

Dive right in. Five fantastic books for ocean lovers.

Gift From The Sea by Ann Morrow

Gift From The Sea
By Ann Morrow 

Ann Morrow, writer, poet, pilot and wife of Charles Lindbergh, went to a cottage on Captiva Island in Florida and wrote this delightful reflection of life as a woman, comparing herself to the various shells she finds on the beach. The shells represent the stages of relationships, marriage, motherhood and then an empty house again. She explores ways to find a more natural rhythm in day-to-day life and a way to deepen relationships with a spouse or siblings.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
By M.L. Stedman

A young couple agrees to be lighthouse keepers on a remote island off the Australian coast in the 1930s. They live in blissful isolation with a supply boat visiting every few months. After several years of failed attempts of trying to have children, a rowboat washes up with a dead man and a live baby that they raise as their own. A wonderful debut novel that poses impossible choices and moral dilemmas that have heart-breaking consequences. 

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Island of Sea Women
By Lisa See 

The culture of Haenyeo, where female Korean divers supported their families by harvesting from the ocean floors, was strong on the island of Jeju for many centuries. See tells the story of two best friends who are destined to follow the path of the Haenyeo like the elders before them. The girls witness colonialism by Japan, WW II, the Korean War, as well as the danger and hardship of their trade. The story travels between their younger years and present day and the forces that affected the women divers.

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Sea Wife
By Amity Gaige

A beautifully written book about a family, marriage and second chances. When Michael quits his job and buys a sailboat for his family to live on for a year, his wife, Juliet, is shocked. He wants to sail around the world with a 7- and a 2-year-old? Yet they leave their home in Connecticut and head to Panama to start their adventure. The trip reveals some truths about themselves, their marriage and the greater world around them. You will feel like you also are at sea in this novel

Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Cottage by the Sea
By Debbie Macomber 

A young professional who suffers a traumatic loss returns to the seaside house her family rented every summer when she was a child. She finds a cure for her sadness in this quirky town of misfits. She is drawn to a quiet, gentle soul who helps her fix up her cottage. It’s a wonderful tale of grief and kindness, choices between happiness and career and, most importantly, the healing properties of the sea.


Sea Island Stories

Books that will make you want to be stranded on a local island.

Daufuskie Island, 25th Anniversary Edition
By Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

Daufuskie Island, 25th Anniversary Edition
By Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

Photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe took a series of pictures from 1977 to 1981 during several trips to Daufuskie Island. They depict the landscape, buildings and people in everyday settings of work, play, school and traditions in a bygone era of the Gullah culture. Her pictures tell a story of the isolated African-American community that today, altered by development and rising property values, no longer exists. The 25th Anniversary Edition contains photos previously left out, which now serve as historical documentation. Moutoussamy-Ashe is the widow of Arthur Ashe, who often traveled with her to Daufuskie Island.

Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne 1862-1884 By Laura M. Towne

Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne 1862-1884
By Laura M. Towne

A delightful look into the past told through diary entries and the written letters of the author, Towne traveled from Philadelphia to the island of Port Royal in 1862. She and her friend, Ellen Murray, created the Penn Center School on St. Helena Island, which was the first school developed in the U.S. for freed slaves. Towne’s work travels through Emancipation and Reconstruction in Beaufort County. The Penn Center is a historic landmark that you may tour and visit on St. Helena Island

Fripp Island: A History 
By Page Putnam Miller 

Fripp Island: A History
By Page Putnam Miller 

Fripp Island, a barrier island to the barrier island of St. Helena, has a long and storied history dating back to the first records of being referred to as “Fripp Island” in 1734 when it was owned by John Fripp. Yet before that there is evidence of Native Americans visiting the island for hunting and fishing, and Spanish explorers began visiting in 1521. This book digs up records for the island and chronicles the ebb and flow of development for residents and visitors alike. It spans to 2006, when the year-round residency was about 500. Fripp is often looked at as the smaller, more protected resort island compared to Hilton Head Island.

The Way Home
By Kardea Brown 

The Way Home
By Kardea Brown 

A true celebration of the love of cooking and eating, Brown pulls from deep within her Gullah upbringing and her many handed-down family recipes to share her love of food. Her stories allow you to peek into a childhood growing up on the Sea Islands, and her recipes express the tradition of local, fresh and made with love. Among the many delights are She-Crab Soup, Lowcountry Spaghetti, Cornbread with Molasses Butter, Seafood Mac and Cheese, Salmon Cakes, Edisto Lemon Pie and so much more.

Dataw: No Ordinary Place
By The Dataw Historic Foundation

Dataw: No Ordinary Place
By The Dataw Historic Foundation

Part photography coffee table book and part historical record, this beautiful book documents the original name (Datha, after a Native American King legend) and various settlers, including the Sams family, who owned the Island before the Civil War and had “summer houses” in Beaufort. In 1990 the Dataw Marina opened, and development continued. In the ’90s various projects started to preserve the Island’s history and beauty, as well as the tabby ruins from the Sams Plantation complex. This book is a must for fans of this pristine little island nestled between Lady’s Island and St. Helena Island.


Characters of color

Five books for Black History Month and beyond.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age 
By Kiley Reid 

A bold debut about the complicated layers of privilege and race. Twenty-five-year-old Emira Tucker babysits as a second job for a well-off family in Philadelphia. One night in a grocery store, Emira is racially profiled by a security guard and accused of kidnapping her 3-year-old charge, Briar. Her employer, Alix Chamberlain, bends over backwards to try to right the situation. Reid expertly portrays the awkward feelings and invisible walls that persevere when there are differences in income, race and perspective. 

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake 
By Charmaine Wilkerson

Byron and Benny Bennett have not spoken or seen each other in years, but they are together now to hear from their mother’s lawyer after her death. Their mother recorded a message to them that is several hours long, and, boy does she have a story to tell — one that will make them question everything they thought they knew about their parents, themselves and each other. Also, a black cake that will bring the most important people in their lives together where they belong.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming 
By Michelle Obama

Read by the author, this book is wonderful on audio. It explores the childhood and upbringing of Michelle Robinson on the Southside of Chicago and her subsequent path through college, law school, and meeting her future husband, Barack Obama. Her story is fascinating even if she never had become First Lady. Her inside view of the White House for eight years only adds to the intrigue. My absolute favorite character in her story? Her mom.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
By Rebecca Skloot 

A fascinating account of scientific discovery as well as the human toll. Henrietta Lacks, a patient at Johns Hopkins, had an aggressive form of cervical cancer. A research study at the time was comparing cancerous and healthy cells. Cells do not live long in a lab, but Lacks’ cells did and were found to be immortal. Her cells went on to help develop the polio vaccine and other breakthrough advances in medicine. Skloot’s extensive research brings to light the ethical question of cell ownership and consent as well as the history of experimentation on African Americans in the U.S.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer 
By Oyinkan Braithwaite 

Korede, a kind and law-abiding nurse, dreads the phone call from her sister asking for help with yet another dead boyfriend, killed in “self-defense.” What is a sister to do? Call the police, or bring her cleaning supplies? Dark and hilariously told, a love story of sorts, (just not for the dead boyfriends) but also a testimony of sibling loyalty and just how far one will go to protect those they love