SL Book Review: Last Minute Summer Reads

July 31, 2009 | By | Comments (7)

You've got a few more weeks of sweet summer left for lazy days curled up in the sun with a book in hand. Check out our latest book reviews and read our picture-perfect location suggestions. Where would you picture reading one of these books?

What are your suggestions for last-minute summer reads?

Beach Trip 

by Cath Holton (Ballantine Books, $25)

Beach Trip Twenty-three years after graduating from a small Episcopal Southern college, four friends reunite for an island getaway in North Carolina's Outer Banks. I know, I know. Beach Trip sounds like your typical chick lit summer read. But this novel will surprise you. What begins as a lighthearted book about rebuilding an old friendship becomes a truly touching novel about love, loss, regret, and renewal. 
Tennessee author Cathy Holton gives voice to four strong characters–Mel, Sara, Annie, and Lola. All have taken different paths since graduation. All harbor secrets. And by the end of the book you will understand and care about these women as if they were your old friends, as well. Joyce Butterworth

Perfect spots to read:
  • With your toes in the sand–Nag's Head or Bald Head Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks
  • As the characters relive college years, find a quiet spot on a beautiful southern campus: Sewanee, Duke, University of Virginia, Tulane, Samford University, College of Charleston, and Vanderbilt all claim gorgeous campuses.
  • In honor of Beach Trip's Atlanta attorney Sara, curl up at Joe's Coffee in East Atlanta
  • Or channel character Annie and Nashville and grab lunch at Red Wagon Cafe in East Nashville.

Driftwood Driftwood Summer

by Patti Callahan Henry (New American Library, $14)

Novels hold the ability to teach us, reflecting our own families and histories. This is such a book, much more than the story of three sisters dealing with life, each other, and an ailing mother. And along with the books that fill one sister's business–Driftood Cottage Bookstore in mythical Palmetto Beach, Georgia–the stories of the sisters' lives slowly reveal themselves in this latest novel by author Patti Callahan Henry.
In Driftwood Summer, the author finds ways for the struggling siblings to find common ground, noting that hard times tend to draw us all closer–even if it takes some hollering and tears along the way. The writer also throws in an off-kilter romance and a big does of humor. Bottom line: This volume offers up all the ingredients of a great summer beach read. Allison Barnes

Perfect spots to read:
  • Find a beach communities or barrier island on the Atlantic coast like Tybee Island, GA, Isle of Palms, SC, or Folly Beach, SC.
  • Give a nod to the author's alma mater–Spread out on the lawn in front of Samford Hall at Auburn or grab a table across the street at Cambridge Coffee.
  • If you can, a hammock or other fitting spot on the banks of the Chattahoocheee River in Georgia, where Henry drafts her novels

CrowningGlory hc c The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

by Rebecca Wells (Harper Collins, $25.99)

The Bayou state played a big part in the popular Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Siterhood, and Louisiana author Rebecca Wells continues that same Cajun accented sense of place in The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. In this new book, the author captivates with the quirky and the magical, bringing them together in a charming river town named La Luna, which is protected by the Moon Lady. Wells also introduces Calla Lily Ponder, daughter of the town's beautician and dance instructor, who also practices the art of healing.
Blessed with her mother's gift of healing, Calla plans to spend her days working alongside her mother in their tiny salon, The Beauty Porch. Tragedy ends Calla's childhood too soon, however; then her first love breaks her heart. These events send Calla to the big city of New Orleans. Here she learns the art of cosmetology and rediscovers the healing power of friendship–and the true value of her mother's gift–as she grows and blossoms like her namesake flower. By turns cosmic, tragic, and sweet, this novel will delight the fans of Ya-Yas everywhere. Bottom Line: This latest book from the author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is another bayou classic. Lauren Simpson

Perfect Spots to Read:
  • Poolside at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans
  • Tucked away on a bench in Audobon Park in New Orleans
  • Tucked in bed after a nice Cajun dinner at J. Gumbo's in Lousiville, KY
  • Gulf beaches near Lousisiana–Panhandle beaches like Grayton Beach, Seaside, and Seagrove, Alabama beaches of Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, or South Padre Island, TX


  1. 4rx

    for me one of the best was Driftwood Summer
    by Patti Callahan Henry, This is absolutely the best of Patti Callahan Henry’s books. She keeps the plot going, the people make you want to have lunch with them and I never wanted to lay the book down. Just don’t read it at bedtime . . .you’ll never get to sleep for wondering what those people are doing!

    November 21, 2011 at 11:00 am
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    I am looking for some quality books to read them on my ipad 2. I don’t have problem if they are available on kindle because I have the app.

    September 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm
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  5. Brenda

    Calla Lily is a fantastic book.

    September 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm
  6. donna cox

    the only one i have read is “the crowning glory of calla lilly ponder” and it is a wonderful story – i may have to look the other two up though and see what they are all about

    August 27, 2009 at 9:01 pm
  7. TB

    Sadly, Red Wagon in East Nash closed. If you are looking for a great reading spot in that ‘hood, try at a window table at Marche, a breakfast/lunch place owned by the folks at Cafe Margot.

    August 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

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