Archive | She Reads Selection

She Reads Twitter Chat with Greer Macallister

I am experimenting with Storify, a service that allows users to create “stories” by capturing social media elements. Below is a Storify story I generated using tweets from the January 21st Twitter chat with Greer Macallister. Greer has written a wonderful new book, The Magician’s Liewhich is a She Reads Book Club Pick for Winter 2015. You can scroll through the tweets to learn what image inspired this historical fiction novel, what actors the author and She Reads tweeps would cast in the roles of Arden, Clyde, Ray and Adelaide, and what city is behind Greer’s work-in-progress.

What do you think of the Storify transcript of the She Reads Book Club Twitter chat with author Greer Macallister? Please let me know in the comments below.

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July 2014 She Reads Book Club Selection: That Night by Chevy Stevens

That Night by Chevy StevensThe premise of the July 2014 She Reads Book Club selection is gripping: a teenage girl and her boyfriend are accused of murdering the girl’s sister. No one in the small town believes that Toni and Ryan are innocent, not even Toni’s grieving parents. This sounds like the perfect setup for one of those race-against-the-clock legal thrillers where Toni and Ryan ultimately go free at trial, but this is not that book. Their story and the truth about what happened That Night will only be revealed after Toni and Ryan have served half of their young lives in prison. In fact, the book begins when 34-year-old Toni leaves prison, then travels back and forth in time.

Chevy Stevens, author of That Night

Chevy Stevens, author of That Night

That Night takes place on Vancouver Island, where author Chevy Stevens grew up and where she still lives with her husband and daughter. This is Stevens’s fourth novel. Her debut novel, Still Missing, was a New York Times bestseller and won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Visit her author website at or follow @ChevyStevens on Twitter.

Throughout the month of July, She Reads will be sharing extras about That Night and guest posts from the author. You can also enter to win one of five copies of the book. Check it out at

Publisher's Description of That Night by Chevy Stevens
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night. Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison. Now thirty-four, Toni, is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night. But in That Night by Chevy Stevens, the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.
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April She Reads Book Club Selection: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinLess than two weeks of the spring semester remain for me, which is why I haven’t been writing much here at Southern Spines. I have one large research paper and a big essay-only final both happening next week, so I’m trying to sequester myself from social media and the Interwebs as much as possible. It’s a shame because I have so much great content to share with you!

Before I cloak myself in virtual obscurity, I must tell you about the April She Reads Book Club selection, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I have to read a lot of books–for work, for school, for the Southern Spines blog. Books litter my office; you’ll find them on shelves, in boxes and in plastic bins on the floor. My iPad overflows with ebooks and audiobooks that await my attention. Hardbacks from two different libraries fill my backpack.

Reading on deadline can suck just a smidgeon of fun from the act of reading. The phrase “Required Reading” sounds more like a punishment than a privilege. But reading The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry brought me nothing but pleasure. I loved everything about this book.

The main character, A. J. Fikry, is the owner of Island Books, a widower and an unapologetic book snob. A. J. starts shutting down and drinking too much after his wife’s death, but chance forces him to reconnect with life and the people in his community. As a reader, you will become so engrossed in the stories of the people of Alice Island, you will forget that a mystery lies at the center of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. When someone leaves a strange basket at the bookstore, A. J. enlists the help of the town’s police chief to investigate the circumstances behind the abandoned package.

Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin plays to an audience of zealous book lovers. She precedes each section of the book with the equivalent of a “Staff Recommendation” from A. J. and sprinkles literary allusions throughout the pages. We learn much of what we know about A. J., the chief, and the other characters by what they read. Because, as the book says, “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: ‘What is your favorite book?’” 

To learn more about Gabrielle Zevin, visit the author’s website at To read what my fellow She Reads bloggers are saying about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, check out this post on the She Reads website.

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March 2014 She Reads Book Club Selection: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

A postcard that inspired Sarah Addison Allen's writing of Lost Lake

A postcard that inspired Sarah Addison Allen’s writing of Lost Lake

I love this vintage postcard from the “California Alligator Farm, Los Angeles, California.” This unusual memento–from an alligator amusement park that was popular in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century–partly inspired the setting of Sarah Addison Allen’s latest novel, Lost Lake.

Lost Lake, the fictional place as well as the book, blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Grief and loss have hollowed out all of Allen’s characters–all of them misfits–when we meet first meet them. The owner of Lost Lake, Eby, has finally decided to sell the waning property, an inciting incident that brings the misfits together at this mystical place where dead chefs still occupy a seat at the kitchen table and alligators befriend little girls.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison AllenA great choice for the March 2014 She Reads Book Club, my copy of Lost Lake will stay behind at the beach condo where I’m vacationing this week. I’m sure a future guest will enjoy this escapist novel.

To learn more about Lost Lake and author Sarah Addison Allen, visit her website at As with all She Reads Book Club selections, the author will be posting her insights about the book and her writing life all month long at

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January 2014 She Reads Book Club Selection: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

I’ve been a proud member of the She Reads Blog Network for more than a year, but in the past few months, I’ve also been wearing my publicist hat for this incredible online community devoted to sharing the very best in contemporary women’s fiction. That means that in addition to reading the next great title that She Reads founders Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon have selected, I get to spread the word about a truly worthy book and writer.

One way that I do that is by issuing a press release on behalf of She Reads. If you click on the image below, you’ll be redirected to a web page with this month’s press release, which announces the January 2014 She Reads Book Club selection, Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge.

Gallery Books published Love Water Memory last spring, but the paperback version of the book comes out next Tuesday, January 14. I devoured this novel about a woman who loses her memory and is forced to rediscover who she is–and what caused her to forget everything–with the help of a fiancé who is now just a stranger to her. To learn more about the book and the She Reads Book Club, read the press release.

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She Reads and My Throwback Thursday Pick, A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano

She ReadsBy now you know of my deep and abiding love for She Reads. Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon continue to grow and elevate this community of smart and passionate women fiction lovers. Southern Spines has been a part of the She Reads Blog Network for more than a year, which is how I first met the wonderful Kimberly Brock, who serves as the blog network coordinator. And I can think of no better person to host the She Reads online discussions and Twitter chats than the charming Tamara Welch, proprietor of the “Traveling with T” blog. So I was thrilled to join the She Reads team in a more formal capacity this fall as publicist for the site and all its many, MANY initiatives. I could go on and on about She Reads, especially about the many blog network members who have become my friends over the past year. I’ve loved getting to know my book friends virtually, and in the case of some, in person.

A Good Hard Look by Ann NapolitanoAll of that to say, She Reads has presented me with some really cool opportunities. One of them is getting to read and talk about the books I’ve loved. Most of the time, book bloggers write about brand new or recently released books. But today, I had the chance to share a book that I read a few years ago that still resonates with me. And as I write in the “Throwback Thursday” post on the She Reads site, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the book during a recent dinner conversation. The novel is Ann Napolitano’s A Good Hard Look. A friend recommended the book to me shortly after A Good Hard Look was published in 2011, and we went to see Napolitano speak when she was on tour in Georgia. Hurry over to She Reads to read more and learn about three other books that we recommend adding to your bookshelf.



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She Reads November Book Club Selection: Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn JacksonYou forget sometimes how risky it is to fall in love. In the moment that you decide to open your heart to another, you are consenting to one day part with that person. Because all of life’s truly important things–breathing in the first crisp air of fall, snuggling on the couch with your best friend, sunsets on the beach and chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream–have an expiration date. Still, smart human beings who are well aware of how life works, courageously fall in love every day. And if they’re in a Joshilyn Jackson novel, they do it at gunpoint in a convenience store.

“I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.”

And like falling in love–whammo!–that first sentence from Someone Else’s Love Story plunges you into the middle of a stickup with Shandi, her three-year-old son, Natty, and the aforementioned William, a sad stranger who looks like Thor.

I’m completely biased when it comes to the author of the November She Reads Book Club selection. I’ve read and loved all of Joshilyn Jackson’s novels–gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, and her latest revelation, Someone Else’s Love Story. And because Joshilyn’s also a friend, people might not want to believe me when I tell them this is her best work yet. But if you knew how annoying it is to have to roll your eyes, grit your teeth and admit every year or so that you were wrong about the last novel being your favorite, you’d trust me.

If you like romance, there’s romance (the title keeps its promise). If you like action, there’s action. And if you love mystery and a surprise twist, then you’ll be mightily pleased.

For the first time ever, Joshilyn has written a prequel to one of her novels. It’s an e-original short story or novella called My Own Miraculouswhich provides more insight into the lives of Shandi, Natty and their indispensable friend, Walcott. Rumor has it Joshilyn is entering even more new territory by writing a sequel to Someone Else’s Love Story. Ask her yourself. No, really. You have two opportunities to chat directly with Joshilyn today.

Live Chat with Joshilyn Jackson

First, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Joshilyn will be chatting on the Booktrib Live Chat. Then, tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, she’ll be live-tweeting with the She Reads Book Club. Use hashtag #srbkchat to participate.


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She Reads Book Club: August, September and October Selections

She Reads CollageIn anticipation of Monday’s announcement of the November She Reads Book Club selection, I am revisiting the last three months’ titles.

In August, She Reads selected Kathleen Tessaro’s The Perfume Collector. Tessaro uses the most powerful of the five senses–the sense of smell–to recollect the years between the first and second World Wars and different countries’ responses to war–from the United States to bombed-out England to occupied France. This historical fiction title will linger on your memory long after you’ve turned the final page.

The Husband’s Secret may be one of my favorite books of the year. This September She Reads Book Club selection has incredible narrative drive. Liane Moriarty masterfully weaves together the different plot lines and characters’ perspectives. The novel asks the reader, “What secrets are you willing to keep?”

But the reason this book is one of my favorites is because I want to discuss the epilogue with everyone. Have you read the book? What did you think of the author’s final word? (No spoilers for those who haven’t read to the end).

And in October, She Reads chose Jojo Moyes’s The Girl You Left Behind. I haven’t read Moyes’s bestselling first novel, Me Before Youbut I’ve heard from many of my fellow She Reads bloggers that this follow-up is even better than the author’s notable debut. The Girl You Left Behind is not just the title of the book; it’s the title of a painting at the center of a war crimes dispute. In a series of satisfying reveals, you’ll get to know Sophie Lefevre, the girl in the painting who is also the artist’s wife. And you’ll understand why her visage is so important to modern-day art owner, Liv Halston, who fights to keep the painting.

All three of these books are nominated for Goodreads Choice AwardsThe Perfume Collector is a nominee in the Best Historical Fiction category and The Husband’s Secret and The Girl You Left Behind are nominees for Best Fiction.

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July She Reads Selection: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird by Susanna KearsleyHistorical fiction is fast becoming one of my favorite literary genres. My two best subjects in school have always been English and history, so go figure.

And it should be no surprise that I enjoyed the historical novel The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, which is the July She Reads Book Club Selection.

The Firebird begins in contemporary London. The protagonist, Nicola, works for an art dealer that specializes in Russian masterpieces. When a woman brings a wooden firebird into the office for an appraisal, Nicola touches the heirloom and sees far more history than any certificate of authentication could provide. She witnesses Russian Empress Catherine the Great giving the carved bird to a young woman named Anna. But Nicola can’t talk to her boss about the vision and help the firebird’s owner without revealing her psychic gift. She entreats her ex-boyfriend, Rob, to help learn more about Anna and the firebird because Rob knows and shares Nicola’s psychic abilities.

Kearsley uses the device of psychometry–the ability some psychics have to uncover the history of an object by making physical contact with that object (thanks, Wikipedia)–to traverse the divide between the stories of modern-day Nicola and 18th century Anna. In television terms, you might think of The Firebird as “Antiques Roadshow” meets “Long Island Medium,” but with exiled British soldiers, Russian tsars and a patient policeman with a thick Scottish accent.

I discovered after reading The Firebird that the novel continues the storylines of characters from at least two of Kearsley’s previous books. The Firebird is a fine standalone book, so don’t feel like you have to do any required reading before cracking its cover. If anything, I’m now interested in reading Kearsley’s other books to enrich my understanding of the Moray family and the history of the Jacobites.

Susanna Kearsley, author of The FirebirdTwitter Chat this Thursday, July 18 at 8 p.m. ET

On Thursday, you’re invited to join a live Twitter chat with Kearsley and many of the members of the She Reads Blog Network. I’ve been told there will be multiple giveaways for participants, so be sure to follow the #srchat hashtag beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central, or visit the She Reads Twitter chat page.

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May She Reads Selection: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Each of us is born with an inherent desire to belong–to some place or to someone. Human beings define themselves by what or whom they call “home.” In Orphan Train, author Christina Baker Kline turns this desire on its head and explores what happens when her two narrators have the place and people that they belong to torn from them. Vivian Daly is in her later years when she agrees to let foster teen Molly Ayer perform community service hours at her house. As the two unpack boxes of Vivian’s possessions, they realize that they have both lost the families and homeplaces that they were born into, and if Vivian can confront her past, she might show Molly a way to survive her loss and establish “home” on her own terms.

The book’s title refers to a little-known chapter of American history. Between 1854 and 1929, “orphan trains” carried abandoned children from East Coast cities to Midwest farmlands, where families often adopted the children to perform hard labor. This is the story of Vivian who lost her entire family shortly after they immigrated to New York from Ireland before the Great Depression. Her only touchstone is a Claddagh necklace given to her by her grandmother before Vivian and her immediate family left Ireland.

Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan TrainA necklace is all that Molly has left of her father and her Native American heritage. After losing her dad to a car accident and her mother to drugs, Molly wears the charm necklace that her dad gave her as a way of remembering who she is. Despite the fact that Molly has been shuffled from one foster home to another. Christine Baker Kline writes about the two necklaces and what they meant to Vivian and Molly in the guest post “A Tale of Two Necklaces” on the She Reads website. Orphan Train is the May She Reads Selection. My fellow bloggers in the She Reads network have written some beautiful posts about the novel. You can learn more from them here: “May She Reads Selection Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.”

To learn more about Orphan Train and other books by Christina Baker Kline, visit her official author website or follow her on Twitter @bakerkline.

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