devil-in-the-grove

Declare Your Bookdependence This Weekend With These 20 Books

We hold this truth to be self-evident, that the long 4th of July weekend shall be spent binge-reading. Read on for the perfect books to complement a BBQ, sneak in before the fireworks start, or simply devour with your time off!

The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave movie comes out on January 15th, which means it’s time to dive into the first two books in the series that your friends have been raving about and join the countdown to the big screen!

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

Get a dash of democracy, first love, and family with Kate as she tries to sort out her new life as the daughter of a man running for the president of the United States.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Gorgeous prose, abundant art, and a sweeping story of family and love told through two hearts make this the spectacular read to fall in love with on a holiday. 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Get hooked on a protagonist who might not be all good for once…in fact, there may be some evil inside of her. Then start reading the sequel, The Rose Society!

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Whether you’re road tripping or not to your 4th of July weekend, go on a road trip through Mim Malone’s convoluted, hilarious, and brilliant mind with Mosquitoland.

The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove

There’s never a wrong time to read a book that will change the way you think of fantasy, and we suggest starting with this series about Sophia Tims, who’s searching for her uncle in the New World – a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.

My Life Next Door and What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s romances are your summer spirit animal. For best results, indulge in them while luxuriating in the grass with a pitcher of hydrating lemonade within reach.

Paper Towns by John Green

Only a few more weeks to consume the tale of Quentin’s epic search for his next door neighbor before it hits the big screen July 24th! 

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Pick a city, a name, a boy, and Stephanie Perkins will deliver a romance that belongs in the YA hall of fame. This weekend, try all three!

The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

This bestselling series is ideal for weekend bingeing, especially when you’re craving fantasy, adventure, and the colliding of fates.

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

You don’t have to have read the Falling Kingdoms series to start her new series! With one perspective set in modern-day Toronto and one in the ancient kingdoms of Mytica, fates collide and make for a read that will be difficult to put down, even when the fireworks start.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Who says you can’t balance out Independence Day merriment with a dark revenge thriller?

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Family, first love, and identity…just don’t let the descriptions of delicious pizza distract you from any BBQs on your agenda. 


The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Have a well-balanced weekend full of celebration, sunshine, and a blood-curdling read. Picture shown is the gorgeous hardcover but THE MERCILESS is out in paperback now and look out for Danielle’s next book SURVIVE THE NIGHT out this week on July 7th!


What are you reading this weekend?

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King

In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day’s end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys." 

And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as "Mr. Civil Rights,” and the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight–not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall’s NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next. 

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.  [book link]

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Devil in the Grove

The Devil in the Grove

On July 15, 1949, Willie Padgett and his young wife Norma Lee went drinking in Clermont, Florida. The couple was on the rocks: They’d separated before their first anniversary. Norma Lee’s father, Coy Tyson, didn’t hold Willie in high regard, never mind that his daughter had less than a sterling reputation. But the Padgetts were attempting to make it work, and had a night of carousing in mind. Some time after midnight., the two were drunk, stranded on a country road: Willie’s 1940 Ford sedan had a dead battery. Two young African Americans, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin, stopped to help. This chance encounter portended a terrible future for Samuel and Walter. They, along with Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas, would be accused of raping Norma Lee Padgett. The intersection of their struggle with the career of renowned freedom fighter Thurgood Marshall provides the basis for Gilbert King’s superb book, The Devil in the Grove.

This 2012 work of non-fiction tells the tale of the Groveland Boys. It makes compelling reading for many reasons. Marshall was a rising legal star, gathering the threads that became the seminal Brown v. Board of Education. But while schools were an point of emphasis in the fight for civil rights, they were not the only platform where African Americans were marginalized. The criminal justice system in the South provided a cruel pantomime of due process. Accused blacks were handed over to lynch mobs. Prisoners were brutally beaten to induce false confessions. And to be accused of rape by a white woman was a guaranteed death sentence. In taking the case of the Groveland Boys, the NAACP hoped to confront and expose their ghoulish circumstances and set them free. The odds were not in their favor, but they had Marshall’s considerable brilliance on their side.

Standing in their way was the closest thing you’ll find to a devil in The Devil in the Grove: Sheriff Willis V. McCall. McCall was the archetype of the terrifying Southern lawman, a hulking brute with absolute control over his dominion. Gilbert King had access to an enormous amount of documentation, including declassified FBI files. He built a well supported timeline, including how the Sheriff and his deputies tortured their captives. McCall’s wrath wasn’t reserved for the accused. King recounts a harrowing episode where his posse chased attorneys out of town at 90 miles per hour. The society around the Sheriff allowed him to exist: He was not forced out of his job until 1972. The author details the complex apparatus that propped Willis up. In a booming citrus town, a country cop could make a lot of money by ensuring work continued. Lawmen rounded up African Americans, then threatened and battered them if they resisted or organized. The context of this book gives the reader a rich picture, explaining the story behind the story. King doesn’t stop at portraying villainy. He lets you know how it happened.

What sets The Devil in the Grove apart is its pace and sequencing. Every event is richly researched and respectfully told. But while many books of non-fiction are dry, Gilbert King makes his story jump off the page. He leaves some exchanges off camera until later in the book to great effect. But this book has several twists that make it worth as the first place you read the Groveland Boys’ stories. The events herein are stunning. The heroism and courage is as inspiring as the inhumanity can be depressing. This is rare non-fiction that reads like a novel. The sooner you pick it up, the better.

#BlackHistoryBooks 12: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King

This book is part true crime and part history. It focuses on the 1949 trial of the “Groveland Boys” who were wrongfully accused of raping a white woman and on their lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court. Groveland, Florida (which is near Orlando) isn’t the type of place we typically picture horrific events like these happening. And, in light of recent news involving police brutality and misconduct, it’s important to remember our past so we are not doomed to repeat it.

Restaurant Book Recommendations

Have you ever done something without thinking about it and then, after thinking about it, realize that what you did was incredibly awesome? I’m not trying to brag (I’m totally bragging), but I did something on a whim the other night at work that turned into a spectacular idea. Disclaimer: This idea is something that only a book worm/literary studies major like myself is going to get worked up…

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