Archive for Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer offerings: Readers can indulge in buzz-worthy works

June 13, 2010


Hornets aren’t the only things to watch for this summer.

Be on the lookout for tornadoes, vampires and even terrorists in some new books likely to end up in your beach bags.

Readers should have no problem finding something, even if buzz about upcoming titles seems to circle confidently around only a couple of novels.

The first, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson, went on sale two weeks ago. The Swedish trilogy has gained momentum since the first book, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

You also won’t be able to escape hearing about “The Passage,” a post-apocalypse horror story by Justin Cronin. A virus from a secret military experiment creates a race of vampiric monsters. But this isn’t paranormal romance. Rather Cronin’s lengthy novel (which has been picked up by film director Ridley Scott) is being compared with Stephen King’s “The Stand.”

Another paranormal story, “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” by Stephenie Meyer, has a built-in audience. Meyer is using a character from “Eclipse” in this novella for “Twilight” fans.

For readers who prefer fiction more down to earth, Jenna Blum’s “The Stormchasers” will explore relationships involving tornado fanatics; Martin Cruz Smith finds corruption (surprise!) in modern-day Moscow with “Three Station”; and Julie Orringer offers a more old-fashioned love story in “The Invisible Bridge.”

Nonfiction readers won’t be left out, although several summer favorites debuted in early May (books like Sebastian Junger’s “War” and Nathaniel Philbrick’s “The Last Stand”).

Here’s a list of additional summer titles, organized loosely by theme. Publication dates are subject to change.

It’s all about family

• “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender (available now) — A 9-year-old girl bites into her mother’s homemade cake and discovers she has a magical gift: She can taste her mother’s emotions (and they are not the good cheer she seems to convey).

• “My Name Is Memory” by Ann Brashares (available now) — Young lovers discover their love was thwarted in an earlier life. A book about time-traveling for adults by the author of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

• “The Summer We Read Gatsby” by Danielle Ganek (available now) — Half-sisters Cassie and Peck are summoned to the Hamptons to figure out what to do with a rundown house left by a beloved aunt and contend with former beaus.

• “Promises to Keep” by Jane Green (June 15) — A photographer and mother of two daughters contends with her free-spirit sister, best friend and divorced parents during a summer in Maine.

• “My Hollywood” by Mona Simpson (Aug. 3) — A composer and new mother hires a nanny from the Philippines to care for her son and help stabilize her rocky household. By the author of “Anywhere but Here.”

• “Fragile” by Lisa Unger (Aug. 3) — A charming small community is in turmoil when a teen boy’s girlfriend disappears.

• “The Blind Contessa’s New Machine” by Carey Wallace (July 8) — A 19th-century Italian bride goes blind, and her husband tries to keep her safe by locking the doors. A childhood friend and inventor gives her a way to escape the husband and find furtive love.

The way we remember it

• “How Did You Get This Number” by Sloane Crosley (June 15): Humorous essays featuring a bright young thing in the big city.

• “Female Nomad and Friends” by Rita Golden Gelman (available now): A collection edited by the author of “Tales of a Female Nomad” featuring other travelers and including food and recipes.

• “Hitch-22” by Christopher Hitchens (available now): The contrarian and atheist writes about his first 60 years, including his mother’s suicide, protesting the pope, his career as a war correspondent and more.

• “Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling” by Beth Raymer (available now): A newcomer to Vegas spends four years working for a sports-betting entity and placing wagers on everything from spelling bees to Little League contests.

Looking into the past

• “The Cross of Redemption” by James Baldwin (Aug. 3): Essays, reviews and interviews by the author of “Notes of a Native Son” are gathered for the first time in book form.

• “Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her Family’s Feuds” by Lyndall Gordon (June 14): The great, peculiar poet may have kept to herself because she suffered from epilepsy, this new biography says.

• “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S.C. Gwynne (available now): A historical account of the battle between warring Comanches and white settlers for control of the West.

• “Declaration” by William Hogeland (available now): An account of the nine weeks in 1776 when Samuel and John Adams led a band of patriots willing to break with England.

• “Pearl Buck in China” by Hilary Spurling (available now): Biographer shows how young Pearl witnessed incredible poverty in China as the daughter of a single-minded missionary in this gripping account of the Nobel Prize-winning author of “The Good Earth.”

• “Freedom Summer” by Bruce Watson (June 14): A look at the summer of 1964, the season that “made Mississippi burn” during the violent days of the civil rights movement.

Mostly for laughs

• “Star Island” by Carl Hiaasen (July 27): An anonymous stunt double for a pop star is mistakenly kidnapped in Miami and must be rescued (while keeping her existence a secret).

• “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart (July 27): The author of “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” satirizes a future illiterate, debt-ridden America where there still might be something worth living for: love.

Our culture now

• “True Prep” by Lisa Birnbach, with Chip Kidd (Aug. 11): The author of the 1980 best seller “The Official Preppy Handbook” looks at how former preps have adapted to cell phones and reality TV.

• “Extra Lives” by Tom Bissell (available now): An exploration of video games that combines personal experience (Bissell once went on a cocaine binge playing “Grand Theft Auto IV”) with interviews of leading game designers.

• “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick (June 15): How a Harvard student created a social network that has transformed the Internet and, arguably, daily life.

• “What Women Want” by Paco Underhill (July 6): The author of “Why We Buy” shows that the consumers everybody’s catering to are women. As women gain power and independence, their choices are transforming consumerism.

Keep the lights on

• “Rock Paper Tiger” by Lisa Brackmann (available now): A scarred Iraqi war veteran struggles to find herself while working as a security guard in modern China. Conspiracies, not peace, keep her on the run.

• “The Burning Wire” by Jeffrey Deaver (available now): Terrorism is feared when a killer uses a shocking weapon — an electrical substation — in the new thriller by the popular Deaver.

• “The Lion” by Nelson DeMille (available now): A deadly Libyan terrorist known as the Lion is chased by former New York detective John Corey.

• “Bullet” by Laurell K. Hamilton (available now): Vampire hunter Anita Blake’s latest adventure involves a vampire from her past and her hometown of St. Louis.

• “In Harm’s Way” by Ridley Pearson (Aug. 3): Sheriff Walt Fleming is kept surprisingly busy with homicides for a guy who lives in a lovely vacation spot like Sun Valley.

• “Dead Line” by Stella Rimington (July 1): A Syrian source tips off intelligence officer Liz Carlyle that an attack is planned at a Middle East peace conference.

• “The Rembrandt Affair” by Daniel Silva (July 25): Gabriel Allon has retreated to the cliffs of Cornwall, but when an art restorer is murdered and a Rembrandt is stolen, the Israeli agent is drawn into the intrigue.

Novel inquiries

• “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan (available now): A 1990s music producer thinks digitization has helped cause an aesthetic holocaust as the novelist explores time and culture.

• “Imperial Bedrooms” by Bret Easton Ellis (June 15): The sequel to the author’s first novel, “Less Than Zero,” which was published in 1985.

• “Lucy” by Laurence Gonzales (July 13): Ethical issues of genetic engineering surface when a girl turns out to be the offspring of a human and an ape.

• “The Nobodies Album” by Carolyn Parkhurst (June 15): This new novel by the author of “The Dogs of Babel” portrays a writer estranged from her adult son, who, she learns, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.

• “Anthropology of an American Girl” by Hilary Thayer Hamann (available now): An artist comes of age in 1970s New York, with rape, drugs and other trials.


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