Traveling With T’s Best Books of 2013

Best Books of 2013

It’s that time of the year- the time of year where numerous “Best Books” list are published. And so, it’s time for Traveling With T to publish a list- a list of the books I loved, some books that made me a better reader, and a few honorable mentions.

Best of 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman  


Photo Credit: Goodreads

Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut is heartwarming, loving and and has some thought-provoking moments.  I cried, I laughed, I LOVED. Here is my review. This is 1 of the 2 hands down favorite books of Traveling With T. Read on for #2!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

reconstructing amelia

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Kimberly McCreight’s debut, Reconstructing Amelia, was called 2013’s Gone Girl. While many books in the mystery/suspense was compared to Gone Girl- this one probably was most deserving. Dark. Twisty. Kate’s anguish over what happened to Amelia, realizing how she did not know her daughter- and wondering if past sins of hers played a role in Amelia’s death- of if the sin of not being there for Amelia in her time of need was why Amelia is gone. Each character- each section of the book- carefully crafted and wonderful. You, as a reader, might think you have it all figured out- but Kimberly takes twists and turns- and creates a story in unforgettable. Here is my review.

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

place at table

Photo Credit: Goodreads

When I was emailed a request to review this book, I wasn’t familiar with Susan’s work. But, I had a good feeling from the description and the cover was beautiful. I’m glad I trusted my instincts- because this book is a Southern Lit treasure. Love, finding yourself, feeling nourished, and acceptance are themes of this book- and it truly is a gem. Here is my review.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

w is for wasted

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I yearn for the latest Kinsey book well ahead of Sue Grafton’s 2 year publishing schedule. I curse the the day I discovered A is for Alibi and thought “Years and years of mass market paperback books will keep me busy for some time.”  It did not. Thus began the waiting game. Each year a Sue book is published- I’m so happy. Kinsey rocks as a character. Seriously. If you like a mystery- Sue Grafton is great.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

the engagements

Photo Credit: Goodreads

My first J. Courtney Sullivan book was a treat. JCS weaves a story of fiction with some real-life truths about how “A Diamond is Forever” came about. Criss-crossing from 4 viewpoints, 4 different time frames- and how a diamond plays a role in all their lives. Here is my review.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

finding colin firth

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Mia March books just scream “SUMMER” to me. Light, funny- sometimes fluffy- I love to read a Mia book. Finding Colin Firth, her 2nd novel, tells the story of  3 women- women who are each dealing with troubles of their own. To add to the mix, a movie is being filmed- and rumor has it that Colin Firth is in town- which adds to the fun of the book.  Here is my review.

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

hush little baby

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Thriller. Terrifying at times. Suzanne’s look into the dark side of a marriage is worth a read. Here is my review.

The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

pieces we keep fb

Photo Credit: Goodreads

A mother’s love. Love and trust in WWII. Secrets and betrayal. Grief. And much more. Kristina McMorris weaves 2 stories together to make 1 compelling book. Here is my review.

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

the silence of bonaventure arrow

Photo Credit: Amazon

Magical-realism. That phrase made me hesitant about reading this. But, I did. And I’m so glad. It was so much more than I expected. Don’t let the magical-realism label scare you! Here is my review.

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

funeral dress

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Haunting and beautifully written. A Southern Lit tale that will stay with you far after the last page is turned. Here is my review.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams– Love, lust, betrayal. Secrets. And a hurricane. Here is my review.

a hundred summers

Photo Credit: Goodreads

honorable mentions for 2013

Books that def require a mention!

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

the wrong girl fb

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Enjoyable- very enjoyable! Here is my review.

You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

you knew me when

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Entertaining and enjoyable. A tale of friendship- the highs and lows. Here is my review.

Buried Leads by LynDee Walker

buried leads

Photo Credit: Henery Press

Smart. Funny. Nichelle is high-heel loving, Moscato-drinking, and funny as all get out reporter. Enjoyable read! Here is my review.

The Affair by Colette Freedman

the affair

Photo Credit: Amazon

Normally an affair can be seen as pretty black and white issue. But Colette Freedman takes this topic- and paints in shades of grey. By the end, you’re not sure who is right or wrong! Here is my review.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

the longings of wayward girls

Photo Credit: Goodreads

A lie. A harmless lie. And a girl turns up missing. But, that is just a section of the story. Page turning- and you are never quite sure who is innocent or guilty. Here is my review.

What do you think? Find any books to read? Did I miss a book you thought was “Best of 2013” worthy? Tell me!

*This list is just my opinion. I fully realize that I may have over-looked a book that should be ranked. My apologies!

T Traveling With T pic sign off

Susan Gregg Gilmore and Lisa Patton- Oh what a night!

lisa patton, me, susan g gilmore

Last week at TurnRow Books in Greenwood, MS- I got to hang out with 2 Southern Lit authors who rock my socks off!

Lisa Patton (Southern as a Second Language) and Susan Gregg Gilmore (The Funeral Dress)- 2 women, 2 different types of Southern Lit, 2 authors that you must go and buy all their books! Lisa’s are more funny- the lighter side of life; where Susan’s are more about strong women and trying circumstances- yet, each author writes a book that can and should be read by women looking for great reads.


The reading took place in an area of TurnRow that I had not seen- the outdoor porch area. Comfy couches, a nice rocking chair- there was a bit of a nip in the air as the people who attended the book signing settled in to listen to the lovely ladies talk. Susan read first and gave the listeners a bit of a backstory about The Funeral Dress, life for the women factory workers (the women were proud to be able to support/provide for their family by working) and the area where The Funeral Dress is set. She also told of the man that the funeral director was inspired by- his name was Rory Joe and Susan talked of how nice and sweet he was- even when he facing grim circumstances of death.

Lisa Patton read next- and recently finishing reading for the audio version of Southern as a Second Language- she was ready with her voices! As Lisa read, the crowd laughed along because while what she was reading was funny- Lisa, herself, was also a comical aspect! After reading, she told us that the 3rd book was supposed to be titled Dixie in Bloom (because it had Dixie like her previous 2 books), but at the last minute, a new title had to be selected- therefore, Southern as a Second Language was selected (a title she liked much better, anyway!)

One of the audience members asked “if there was ever a moment that they felt they had a sign that writing was the right career path” and Susan thought for a minute- then she told a story. Susan talked about living in California, having finished writing an article for Christian Science Monitor, and deciding to begin writing a screenplay (which she says is much harder than she thought!) Slowly begins mulling the idea over about a book and writing some- when a friend told her to go back to Tennessee for a writer weekend event. At first she did not want to go, Susan was not a fan of flying- but she went. And she was glad she did because she saw her old English teacher Lee Smith, who told her to wait for her that day and she would look over/discuss what Susan was currently writing. After telling the story- Susan said that was a moment she felt she was on the right path, a sign that she was on the right path!

Both Lisa and Susan talked about how writing Southern Lit makes it harder for the foreign rights to their books to be sold (which I think is a shame!) Talking about book covers, Susan spoke of Jill McCorkle saying “Give me the same type of cover you would give a male author”.

Seeing both Lisa and Susan again and getting my books signed by them was such a treat- but even more, was just listening to them talk, telling the backstory of the books, of the writing process. I highly encourage that if you enjoy book signings, to go and see 1 or both if you get a chance!

Literary Friday ya’ll…..

It’s Friday! What are your plans for the weekend?


1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: Flannery O’Connor and money, James Franco and “As I Lay Dying”, Gatsby Companion Reading List, Top 10 references to Faulkner in Pop Culture and much more!


2. Book-Alicious Mama has posted Week 3 Questions for Astor Place Vintage, our September Book Lovers Unite selection.  Join in the fun ( it’s a great book!) Don’t forget, Book Lovers Unite fans- we’ll be back at Traveling With T in October for The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman!


3. Bookmagnet’s Fall for These October Titles is filled with interesting sounding books! Two have caught my attention even before she posted her list- The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner and Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding.


4. Another AWESOME blogger- Rhiannon @ Ivory Owl Reviews! See Rhiannon’s #literaryconfessions for 2 #literarygiants she cannot stand!


5. Reviews posted this week on Traveling With T: A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods, The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane,  and The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore.


6. My #fridayreads: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty ( from Sept 30-Oct 6th, come discuss at She Reads!), Wedding Belles by Beth Albright, and  Grounded by Angela Correll (look for my review and interview next week with Angela Correll!)


Happy Reading!



The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

funeral dress

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Sometimes family is found in the most unexpected places…..

When Emmalee meets Leona at the shirt factory, neither knows how much their life will change. Leona is gruff with Emmalee at first, but soon takes her under her wing- showing her tips and tricks to sewing the collars and other things. One day, Leona asks Emmalee to bring her baby to live with Leona and Curtis, her husband. The next day, their life is changed forever.

Leona has been busy sewing slipcovers and getting Emmalee’s and Kelly Faye’s room ready- so the last thing she needs is a delay in cooking her famous hashbrown casserole for the church. But, it happens and Leona is busy rushing to get things ready for church. On the way to church, while Leona is worried about being later, her husband does not see the log truck drifting in his lane. When he does see the truck, he tries to move over, but moves too far- then loses control. Curtis and Leona die on the way to church.

Emmalee knows that when Mr. Fulton comes to the house, death is in the air. Her daddy, Nolan, helps Mr. Fulton with transporting of the bodies. Emmalee is trying to get Kelly Faye to sleep, and hates to hear the arrival of Mr. Fulton- but especially hates to hear that the bodies are Leona and Curtis. Emmalee mourns the loss of Leona, the one person who believed that Emmalee could be a good mother. Emmalee decides to make her friend a funeral dress, something nice and wonderful for her dear friend, Leona.

Many in the town are against Emmalee, unmarried with a baby, making a funeral dress for Leona, a woman who was church-going. Emmalee is determined to make the dress, though, and she sets out to do just that. Emmalee knows that her friend deserves a beautiful dress, and Emmalee knows that despite her background- the dress is for her to make. No one else would take the time or the care with the dress the way she will.

While Emmalee is making Leona’s dress, she begins to learn more about Leona’s life- the hopes and disappointments- and why Leona decided to ask Emmalee to live with her. Emmalee also begins to realize how much she wants to be a good mother- to provide Kelly Faye with the life she did not have. People in the area, though, have other plans for Kelly Faye and those plans do not include Emmalee. Can Emmalee find the strength to stand up to the town? With the help of an unlikely ally, Emmalee might just be able to.

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

The Funeral Dress weaves together themes of loss, hope, desire for a better life, finding strength and faith to create a story that is heart-warming and an intimate look at life for women working in a factory. Susan Gregg Gilmore takes two characters that, at first glance have nothing in common, and creates a story where they both play a pivotal role in the others life. Highly recommended for book clubs and fans of Southern Lit.

*This book was requested through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Literary Friday ya’ll….

Friday 🙂 🙂 🙂


1. Deep South Magazine and their #literaryfriday: Giveaway for RIVERS by Michael Farris Smith, Top 10 Literary Landmarks of the South, SoFest news and LA Book Festival news, as well! Plus much more!


2. 3 reviews posted this week on Traveling With T: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and The Sassy Belles by Beth Albright!


3. How did you do in August for #ctbs (Conquering The Book Stacks)? Here is how I did!


4. 2 features this week on Traveling With T: Interview with B.A. Shapiro and Bloggers Made of AWESOME: Melody @ Read, Baby, Read!


5. My #fridayreads: THE FUNERAL DRESS by Susan Gregg Gilmore, W IS FOR WASTED by Sue Grafton and GROUNDED by Angela Correll.


6. I just got a 2 thumbs up email from the author of the book I selected for Book Lovers Unite October pick! Sorry, sweets, you’ll have to wait until NEXT week to hear the good news- but it’s been a book that I have been raving about lately!


Happy Reading!

Literary Friday ya’ll…. (plus a feature on little ole me!)

I’ve got my eyes on the lookout for pumpkins and other signs of the fall fast approaching- what about you?


1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: Giveaway of 2 books (1 is Karen White’s latest, THE TIME BETWEEN!), Claire Danes, news about last week’s AJC Decatur Book Fest, and much more!


2. Jessica McCann posted a lovely post titled What Cupcakes Taught Me About Life and Literature. Read. It’s VERY good!


3. This week on Traveling With T, I had several author spotlights: Dana Bate, Denise Swanson, and Emily Liebert.


4. Interviews, interviews, interviews: Dana Bate, Denise Swanson, and Emily Liebert.


5. I reviewed 2 books this week: Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson and You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert.


6. Another AWESOME blogger featured this week: Cindi @ Utah Mom’s Life!


7. My #fridayreads: The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillipi Ryan, The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore, and Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand.


8. Katherine at Story Matters– one of my AWESOME bloggers mentioned a couple of weeks ago asked to interview me (me!, Little ole me!) In the interview we cover my #literaryconfessions (yes, yes, after asking everyone and their mama their #literaryconfessions- someone turned the tables on me and asked me the question. I confessed freely (even though it might be a bit shameworthy for a bookworm to admit!) Thank you, Katherine for the Spotlight on Tamara Welch, Book Blogger!


Happy Reading 🙂