Summer, a time reminiscent of schooldays when we had three whole months to frolic about in the sun, on the beach, at parks or in a pool. Despite the fact that most of us have grown up and now work our way through summer, staring out of our windows at the glorious weather and wishing we were in Hawaii instead, that feeling of summer freedom still exists. It is the season we most often take our vacations, spend more time at the beach, have bbqs and spend our nights gazing at the stars from our porch steps.
Most of all, it is a season when reading changes. Whether you are an avid reader who hoards books like candy bars under their pillows or a sometimes reader that only picks up a book when they’re going on a long plane ride, in the summer most of us want the same thing. Summer reads are a lot like summer blockbusters, publishers roll out their most adventurous, romantic, thrilling, page turning books for us to enjoy on our vacations. Its true, we may not (all) want to read about gruesome true life murders or the war in Libya next to the pool with our margaritas. We may want something a bit lighter, a bit more fantastical.
Here are a few books I’m looking forward to this summer:
Titus Awakes: A Novel by Mervyn Peake (Fantasy)
Have you read the Gormenghast Novels? NO? SHAME ON YOU! Just kidding, but seriously now.. you should read them. Mervyn Peake’s gothic saga started in Titus Groan (and continued in Gormenghast and Titus Alone) with the first couple years in the life of a heir to a crumbling old castle. The slightly crazy staff and the peasants living there in addition to the Gormenghast family and their castle make a beautiful, haunting, rich, detailed, lovely and dark world you’ll be lost in and never forget. The author, Mervyn Peake died without finishing the concluding book. In this book’s description is it said that in January of 2010 Peake’s granddaughter found four composition books in her attic which contained the final volume, Titus Awakes. In the books Peake had outlined the novel for his wife, Maeve Gilmore, who had at last finished Peake’s masterpiece. This fourth installment is finally being released. I am extremely excited to read this. Release Date: June 30, 2011
Ghost Story: No 13 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Fantasy)
The Dresden Files are a series that always remind me of summer and often are released during the summer months. And why not? They’re perfect for it! Harry Dresden is a Wizard living in Chicago, the only one openly offering his services in the yellow pages. Although the other Wizards don’t approve, Harry tries to help the public with their problems. He tries, at least. Harry messes up a lot. He is always almost dying, having to make deals, squeezing out of bad situations by the barest of margins. In other words, hes a lot of fun to read about. Hes also sarcastic, witty, cynical and extremely humorous. He has a teenage apprentice, a talking skull named bob (who loves romance novels), a half vampire brother and a cop partner who hes been in love with forever but we’ve never seen anything happen with. In the last book a year ago (not to ruin anything but you’re coming in on the 13th book here) he was shot, supposedly dead and the book ended. (Damn you Butcher and your cliffhangers!) Can’t wait to see what happens next. Release date: July 26, 2011
The Storm At The Door By Stefan Merrill Block (Fiction, description from NPR.com)
Summer is the best time to read a great love story, and you’ll get it in Block’s novel, inspired by his grandparents’ own experiences. In the book, Katharine Merrill is a woman torn; she loves her husband, Frederick, but his behavior has become increasingly erratic in the decades following his return from World War II. When he ends up being arrested after a cocktail party, Katharine makes the difficult decision to put her husband in a mental asylum. The novel switches back and forth between points of view — Katharine’s ruminations on her marriage, Frederick’s meandering and regretful mind inside the asylum — but ultimately the lovers converge again. The Storm at the Door is a beautiful book — the kind that will linger with you long after the leaves start to change. Release Date: June 21, 2011
A Map of Time by Felix J Palma (Fiction, description from Amazon)
The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. What happens if we change history? Félix J. Palma explores this question in The Map of Time, weaving a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting—a story full of love and adventure that transports readers to a haunting setting in Victorian London for their own taste of time travel. – This story sounds like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to read it! Release Date: June 28, 2011
The Monkeys Wedding and Other Stories by Joan Aiken (Short Stories, description from Amazon)
Joan Aiken’s stories captivated readers for fifty years. They’re funny, smart, gentle, and occasionally very, very scary. The stories in The Monkey’s Wedding are collected here for the very first time and include six never before published, as well as two previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee. Here you’ll find the story of a village for sale . . . or is the village itself the story? There’s an English vicar who declares on his deathbed that he might have lived an entirely different life. After his death, a large, black, argumentative cat makes an appearance. Available now.
The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins (History, description from Amazon)
On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era’s most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio—a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor—all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim whom the police couldn’t identify with certainty, and who the defense claimed wasn’t even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale—a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day. Release Date: June 14, 2011
Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (Biography, description from Amazon)
In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother’s childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father’s English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller’s mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. Fuller interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself. – This is the sequel to Don’t Let’s Go to The Dogs Tonight, which was a great book, if you haven’t read it, you must! Release Date: August 23, 2011
Busy Monsters: A Novel by William Giraldi (Fiction, description from Amazon)
Memoirist of mediocre fame, Charles Homar has a problem: his bride-to-be, Gillian Lee, has nixed their nuptials and fled to the high seas in search of a legendary giant squid, unleashing an unholy heart wreck upon him. In a hell-bent effort to prove his mettle as an American male and win back Gillian’s affections, Charlie crisscrosses the nation seeking counsel, confronting creatures both mythic and real—Bigfoot on the Canadian border, space aliens in Seattle, a professional bodybuilder with Asiatic sex slaves in suburban New Jersey, the demons dancing a rumba inside his own heart—and then writing about his travails every week for a popular slick magazine. Echoing a narrative tradition that includes Don Quixote and Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, William Giraldi’s debut novel is a love story of linguistic bravado that explores American excess, the diaphanous line between fiction and fact, and what desperate men and women will do to one another. Release Date: August 1st, 2011
Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Children’s, Description from Amazon)
Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night–and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces. – Fans of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game might want to pick up this book despite the fact it is children’s fiction, it sounds great! Available now.
Now for the GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post and mention a book you are excited about reading this summer. If you win the giveaway, I’ll send you the book! Simple, eh?