Beach Reads

Summer sand, sun and reading fun

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Coming of Age
The Crocodile Bride
“The Crocodile Bride” follows 11-year-old Sunshine Turner as she navigates the difficulties of growing up and the secrets of her family’s past in the tiny town of Fingertip, Louisiana. With the world around her changing daily, and not knowing who to turn to, Sunshine latches onto a legendary story handed down through generations. Buried deep in the swamps, lives a magical crocodile bride that promises to provide truth and healing, both in body and in mind. Could the discovery of the mysterious bride bring Sunshine the answers, and the healing from a legacy of family trauma, that she and her family have been searching for? “The Crocodile Bride” is writer Ashleigh Bell Pederson’s remarkable debut novel. Her short stories have been featured in “New Stories from the South,” The Kenyon Review and The Iowa Review, and she has been a finalist for The Best American Short Stories and a Pushcart Prize.

Star5

Hardcover, 296 pages, $26.

 

Literary Open

Audio
Poetry Out Loud
Baton Rouge-based filmmaker and Louisiana Life contributor Jeffrey Roedel recently released his new album “Open” from his spoken word and music project Roedel Et Alia. The new collection features nearly 40 minutes of spoken word poetry and experimental music collaborations, and is a companion to Roedel’s 2021 release “Distance.” It features eight new, unreleased poems and is inspired by news, art, culture and the pandemic quarantine. The album is available as a CD or digital download at roedeletalia.bandcamp.com.

 

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Mardi Gras mystery
The Seamstress of New Orleans
“The Seamstress of New Orleans” is a sweeping historical novel set against the backdrop of Carnival-season in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century. Protagonists Alice Butterworth and Constance Halstead are joined by a set of unusual circumstances, as Alice, working as a seamstress at a local orphanage, creates a fantastic ball gown for Constance. But there’s more to the story than just a dress. Each of the women carries the burden left to them by the mysterious disappearance of their husbands, the tangle of debt and danger that ensues thereafter and the new bond they create as they navigate a world as women on their own. Chock full of intrigue, secrets and female empowerment, award-winning writer Diane McPhail has readers enthralled at each turn of the page.

Star4

Hardcover, 304 pages, $26.

 

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Gulf Coast Nature
Living Beaches of the Gulf Coast
Sand and sea lovers will enjoy “Living Beaches of the Gulf Coast” by naturalists Blair and Dawn Witherington for its in-depth look at coastal wildlife, beach plants and structures, seashells, iconic landmarks and art along the Gulf Coast. There are even sections on scavenger hunts and conservation tips that make this more than just a guide to flora and fauna. It’s the perfect fit for novice beachcombers, as well as those that return throughout the year to soak up the sun and enjoy nature.

Star5

Paperback, 425 pages, $29.95.

 

Surf and Sand
Surfing the South: The Search for Waves and the People Who Ride Them
Writer Steve Estes takes the plunge and dives deep into the unique southern surf culture found along the Gulf Coast and the eastern shores of the U.S. “Surfing the South: The Search for Waves and the People Who Ride Them” profiles a wild cast of characters, such as a former alligator hunter, a sheet-metal worker and a swimsuit model, as they hit the waves and explores how surfing and surf culture has impacted their lives. Estes logs a trip from the southern tip of Texas to the seaside towns of Maryland and gets to know what makes southern beach culture so special. His journey is an exploration of history, race, class, environment and much more that will have readers taking a look at surf culture in a new, expansive way.

Paperback, 214 pages, $19.00, Four and half stars.