Okay, okay, so maybe not the nicest header I've ever come up with, but seriously, if you're a mama at home this summer with your kiddos (three to be exact), you need at least one or two good books to take you away. Right? Maybe you are one of those moms who are lining up the Pinterest projects and making sure little Dick and Jane are occupied every minute with brain-edifying activities. Or perhaps you're going to be relying on waaaaaay too much Spongebob and Animal Jams, and kicking them all out in the back yard when the fighting starts. I bet you can guess which scenario I lean more toward ... In the meantime, take a look at these eight new hardcover releases that you can use to shut the world out and dive into something good. Cheers!
Disclaimer: A Novel by Renée Knight
All right, fellow psychological suspense junkies, we have a new book to try! And it's British. Because we know all the best creepy stuff comes from across the pond! Publishers Weekly and Library Journal both gave this brand new novel starred reviews. Here's the book blurb:
When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft's bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger—or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first, she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfolds.
And then she realizes.
This isn't fiction.
The Perfect Stranger re-creates in vivid, unmistakable detail the day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.
Now that the past Catherine so desperately wants to forget is catching up with her, her world is falling apart. Plunged into a living nightmare, she knows that her only hope is to confront what really happened on that terrible day . . . even if the shocking truth may destroy her.
Cue the spooky music. And run to the library or your Amazon cart!
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
So you think you don't like non-fiction? Well, Erik Larson has more than proven himself by penning several non-fiction titles, like the highly-acclaimed, uber-popular Devil in the White City, that are impossible to put down. And he's back with another riveting read in 2015. As the book flap tells us, the sinking of the Lusitania
is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Eric Larson not only does his homework, his writing is so engrossing you'll forget that he didn't have to make up this enthralling tale.
The Rocks: A Novel by Peter Nichols
I'm a huge fan of romance-tinged historical fiction, especially when the author brings a far-flung locale to life. The Rocks sounds like its going to fit the bill perfectly:
Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.
A God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
Oh man, oh man, I am SO EXCITED about this novel! I simply adore every.single.thing Kate Atkinson has penned. She loves to bust genres and she's such a talented writer. You need to first read this, perhaps my all-time favorite novel of the last five years or so, and then move on to A God in Ruins. Here's the publisher blurb:
Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again.
A God in Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.
And this quote from the Publisher's Weekly review beautifully summarizes why Atkinson's books are impossible to put down:
Atkinson isn't just telling a story: she's deconstructing, taking apart the notion of how we believe stories are told. Using narrative tricks that range from the subtlest sleight of hand to direct address, she makes us feel the power of storytelling not as an intellectual conceit, but as a punch in the gut.
If that sounds intimidating, keep in mind that Atkinson's books are compulsively readable, which makes them perfect summer novels.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Can I just mention that I am sick to death of the comparisons of every new suspense novel to Gone Girl? It doesn't have to be just like Gone Girl to be worth reading. And in fact, it probably isn't! (I loved GG, by the way. And I wonder what the going rate for a Gillian Flynn book jacket blurb is these days.) Anyway, Luckiest Girl Alive sounds like a perfect beach read, according to the cover:
As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
Also, I think Reese Witherspoon is a multi-talented actress, and I really enjoy her movies, but I could care less what she thinks about this novel, so I'm disappointed to see her chosen as the top quote on Amazon. Come on, editors.
At any rate, I do care A LOT what Publishers Weekly says and they call this one “A knockout debut novel ... completely enthralling ... devilishly dark and fun.” Dark and fun are just what I like in my summer suspense novels! Added to list.
Dietland: A Novel by Sarai Walker
I'm really looking forward to reading this debut novel, which takes chick lit to an edgier level, with a combination of dark humor, satire, feminism, mystery, and an indie vibe. There's a been a lot of buzz in library land about this book the past few months, too. In a starred review Library Journal raved:
This novel is like a roller coaster. Before you know it, you’re racing through an edgy and exciting mix of mystery, crime, and social critique of gender and beauty standards at breakneck speed. Vivid characters and sometimes surprising acts of violence make the story pop. Ideal for readers seeking something more socially aware and gender-conscious in their women's fiction; book groups will find lots to discuss.
Here's what Amazon editor Sarah Nelson had to say about Dietland:
Warning: this debut novel from a onetime writer for Seventeen and Mademoiselle is not what it might at first seem to be: a funny send-up of the beauty industry and the media that support it. Well, ok, it is that, at least for the first 50 pages or so, but it soon becomes one of the more intelligent, and not a little subversive, depictions of women in our society. Oh, drat: that makes it sound brainy and Feminism 101-y, which is not right, either. So... trying again. Read Dietland, the tale of a young, overweight woman who hides behind a skinny-girl persona to write an advice column for a women’s magazine – and is soon drawn into an underground community of women who forthrightly and fabulously reject that culture. Read it not only because it’s smart and timely (and shocking: it explicitly takes on the adult film culture as well), but because it’s heartbreaking and tragic and very very comic (as long as you like your laughs dark) and because it will guarantee that you never look at a lipstick or a pair of stilettos or a bathroom scale the same way again. Sarai Walker is some kind of twisted sister. And of course I mean that as the highest possible compliment.
I like books that defy categorization.
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
Elizabeth Berg has penned many, many lovely novels that are easy to dive into and difficult to break away from. At the same time, I'm a big fan of the "historical figure" novel, a recently popular sub-genre in which a real person's life is reimagined through fiction. Examples of these (which you should immediately buy if you haven't already read!) are The Paris Wife, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Loving Frank, and the forthcoming The Marriage of Opposites.
Berg's latest novel takes on the pseudonymous George Sands, a 19th-century woman who escaped a loveless marriage in the French countryside to become a romantic novelist who lived an unconventional life. Among her lovers and associates were Hugo, Liszt, Flaubert, and Chopin. An excerpt from the Boston Globe review of Dream Lover caught my eye:
Fantastic ... a provocative and dazzling portrait ... Berg tells a terrific story, while simultaneously exploring sexuality, art, and the difficult personal choices women artists in particular made — then and now — in order to succeed. The book, imagistic and perfectly paced, full of dialogue that clips along, is a reader’s dream.
I am so looking forward to an adventure in armchair travel to 19th-century Paris, with Berg as my guide.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I'm guessing I really don't need to explain why this book is on my list. Unless you've been living completely off the grid, I'm pretty positive you've heard of it, too. I'm actually a little nervous about it, as To Kill a Mockingbird is darn near impossible to eclipse. Or even be half as good as. I think I'm going to re-read TKAM first.
This is the book everybody will be reading this summer. I love the cover already. And I can't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy of this half-century-awaited sequel.
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