2013 Sizzling Summer Reads #1 - Something to go with the heat

In National Book Award finalist Ken Kalfus's intellectual comedy Equilateral *, at the turn of the 20th Century, an obsessed British astronomer undertakes an massive project to build the Equilateral, a triangle in the Egyptian desert to signal to the highly evolved beings alive on Mars. But as work progresses, the local workers, a violent outbreak of malaria complicate matters while he himself is ensnared in a triangle of another sort - between his secretary who does not suffer fools, and Binta, a houseservant he covets but can't communicate with.

"Equilateral is written with a subtle, sly humor, but it's also a model of reserve and historical accuracy; it's about many things, including Empire and colonization and exploration; it's about "the other" and who that other might be. We would like to talk to the stars, and yet we can barely talk to each other."

If you enjoyed Overseas, Beatriz Williams's debut, you would not want to miss A Hundred Summers. 1938, Seaview (RI) where the Manhattan Danes and the Brynes have summered for decades, saw a reunion between former best friends Lily Dane and Budgie Greenwald who is now married to Nick, Lily's former fiance, and the charming Graham Pendleton, a celebrated Yankees pitcher recuperating from an injury.

Under the scorching summer sun, fueled with enough gin and gossips, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick's marriage bubbled to the surface just as a cataclysmic hurricane barreled unseen up the Atlantic. Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which would change their worlds forever.

Winner of a Costa Novel Award, Maggie O'Farrell bring us a beguiling family drama set during the legendary British heatwave of 1976 in Instructions for a Heatwave.

When Gretta Riordan's husband of 40 year went out for the paper on a sultry July morning and never returned, her three grown children converged on the family home for the first time in years. They each harbored secrets they were desperate to hide, even from those who loved them best, until the crisis at hand brought them together with hard-won, life-changing truths.

"Sophisticated, intelligent, and impossible to put down".

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #412

Big Girl Panties * by Stephanie Evanovich is one of the most anticipated debut this summer. Being released this coming week, it won't surprise me to see it hit every bestseller list and as many sand chairs.

In this contemporary take on My Fair Lady meets The Biggest Loser, recently widowed Holly Brennan, 32, is seriously afraid of flying. Logan Montgomery is seriously hoping she won't sit down on the seat next to him on a flight from Toronto where he has just finished a personal training session with one of his superstar athlete clients.

Well, you guessed it. Holly is mortified having to wedge her sweaty obese self into the coach seat next to this gorgeous Adonis while Logan is surprised to find he is actually charmed by Holly's sharp wit after the initial chagrin. In a moment of uncharacteristic generosity, Logan offers to get her back in shape. Before either of them can stop it, the easy intimacy of their training sessions leads to even more steamy workouts away from the gym. But can a man whose whole life depends on looks commit himself to a woman who doesn't fit his ideal? A "chubby- cherub" who will never see a single-digit dress size? Or would the "ugly duckling" have a few wise tricks up her fluffy boa (wink wink) for the "swan"?

A rollicking, sensuous, feel-good romantic comedy that takes on the issues of body image, eating disorder, self-acceptance and actualization.

"Quality writing, memorable characters, hot sex scenes, and an emotionally satisfying story add up to a marvelous gem".

* = starred review

Michael Hastings, brilliant journalist who brought down a General, has died

Michael Hastings, author and award-winning journalist for Buzzfeed, died yesterday in Los Angeles.

In the June 22, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Hastings wrote a blistering piece on then-General Stanley McChrystal who was commander of American forces in Afghanistan. Quotes from McChrystal and his aides were so highly critical of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the General resigned shortly thereafter. Hastings received a 2010 Polk Award for this article.

Hastings' early career as a driven, heat-seeking missile for the truth included writing for Gentleman's Quarterly and Newsweek. Then in 2007, Hastings' world was rocked. He and his fiancee, Andi Parhamovich were both stationed in Baghdad (he was writing for Newsweek; she was an aide worker for The National Democratic Institute. Andi died in an ambush on January 17th and Hastings returned to his parents' home in Vermont, where holed up in their attic for two months while he wrote I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (2008), a keening, bitter, loved-filled tribute to Andi.

Hastings' last hard copy book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War on Afghanistan came out last year. His last book, published earlier this year in Kindle-only format, is
Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign

George Jones, Country-Western heartbreak crooner, has died

George Jones, whose beautiful sad country ballads consoled countless broken hearts, died today in Nashville.

Born in Pensacola, TX in 1931, Jones lived his songs. Famous for missing concerts when he was on a drunken tear, he survived drugs, car crashes, several divorces and repeated financial ruin. His third marriage, in 1969, to Tammy Wynette took the meaning of tempestuous into the stratosphere. They wrote and sang of the endless drama and tragedies in their relationship which lasted just six years, but produced some real blockbuster country songs, such as Good Year for the Roses and \We're Gonna Hold On. Their daughter, Georgette, told their story from her point of view in her 2011 memoir, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.

One of his most wrenchingly sad songs; He Stopped Loving Her Today, was pure George Jones at his mournful best. The song's subject yearns tragically for years for a lost love and dies with a smile on his face.

Jones won countless awards for his body of work. He was honored by the Country Music Association, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and last year he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jones, who had been hospitalized on April 18th, was 81.

High-Seas Audiobook Adventure for Teens

One of the best things about listening to an audiobook is hearing the story in the character’s voice. In L. A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy, narrator Katherine Kellgren reads with a strong Cockney accent that brings the heroine dramatically to life.

After she is reduced to begging on the streets of London, teenager Mary Faber takes a chance at a new life by disguising herself as a boy, Jacky, and joining a British warship on the hunt for pirates. Things become even more complicated when she falls in love with fellow ship’s boy Jaimy and becomes the target of unwanted advances from another sailor. There’s plenty of adventure, romance and scares in this award-winning audiobook.

The audiobook series continues with Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, Mississippi Jack, My Bonny Light Horseman, Rapture of the Deep, and The Wake of the Lorelei Lee.

Amazon Bestseller: Once Upon a Marigold

Here's another intriguing Amazon best-selling teen book: Once Upon a Marigold, by Jean Ferris. Published in 2002, the book is "part comedy, part love story, and part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink," according to the cover. Currently the Kindle edition is #13 on Amazon's list. Written for readers in about grades 5-9, the book stars a young commoner named Christian, an admirer of Princess Marigold. Interestingly, Christian lives in a cave with a troll. As Queen Olympia plans to take over the kingdom, it becomes clear that she will stop at nothing to get this done and that Marigold may be in danger.

#1 Amazon Teen Bestseller: Angelfall

Currently the bestselling teen book on Amazon is Angelfall(Penryn and the End of Days, Book 1, the debut novel of Susan Ee. Romantic and dystopic, this novel has spent 97 days so far on Amazon's list of the top 100 teen books. It was written for readers about age 14 and up.

The novel opens shortly after angels of the apocolypse descended to destroy the world, seeking revenge against humans for killing the archangel Gabriel. When warrior angels grab a little girl, the child's 17-year-old sister, Penryn, makes a deal with Raffe, a handsome injured angel, and they set out through Northern California toward San Francisco, the angels' stronghold.

According to Amazon, the author "used to be a lawyer but loves being a writer because it allows her souped up imagination to bust out and go feral."

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #383 - Not Your Grandmother's Harlequin

Kate Cross opens her Clockwork Agents series with Heart of Brass (2012), and quickly follows with Touch of Steel * (2013).

In Heart, set in 1898 London, Lady Arden Grey is an undercover agent for one of the most powerful organizations of this steam powered world - the Wardens of the Realm, a group with extraordinary abilities, dedicated to protecting England against evil.

Her husband and fellow agent Lucas Grey, Earl Huntley disappeared during a secret mission. Now, Arden is being stalked by an assassin working for their rival - The Company who is none other than Luke.

"Cross has imagined a fascinating world of science in Victorian England. Her characters are three-dimensional and sympathetic; the devices (including the first vibrator) add punch to an already rich love story. Inventive and extremely clever dialog and situations make this series debut an enthralling read".

In Touch, reeling from her brother's death, American spy Claire Brooks has vowed revenge on the member of The Company who she believes to be responsible: Stanton Howard. But when she chases the man to London, Claire is captured by the Wardens of the Realm and placed in the custody of the Earl of Wolfred, the dashing Alistair Payne.

Seeing the prospect of retribution slipping away, Claire convinces Alistair that she has defected and will help him take down The Company. As they travel via steam liner, Claire and Alistair must pretend to be engaged, neither could deny the growing attraction between them.

Kate Cross also writes as Kathryn Smith. Writing steampunk allows her to combine her love of fashion, history and science fiction.

For fans of The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (A Novel of the Iron Seas).

*= starred review

A Book with Heart....and Braaains

A girl typically wants to find a guy who is more interested in her brain than her looks… and in Warm Bodies, Julie Grigio finds just that. Unfortunately, the boy is dead. Well, UNDEAD, actually. Isaac Marion’s debut novel is a zombie book with a twist: love.

The narrator, R, wanders around the ravished earth after a global epidemic has robbed him – and hordes of others – of life (and normal dietary needs). Feeding on brains, R experiences his victims' memories, and after dining on the brains of teen Perry Kelvin, R meets Perry’s girlfriend, Julie. R, full of Perry’s memories of Julie, gets to know her and finds that the virus may not have robbed him of everything human after all. Convinced that R is losing his zombie traits and gaining back human qualities, takes him to the city of the living in an effort to nourish his evolution back from the land of the undead.

A perfect read for the zombie-lover for Valentine’s Day, Warm Bodies puts a spin on the traditional views of flesh-eating, soulless zombies, and shows that with love, anything is possible. Check out the movie adaptation of Marion’s, just released on February 1.

Amazon Teen Bestsellers: Beautiful Creatures Novels

Number one on the list of Amazon Best Sellers in Teen Books is Beautiful Creatures, followed lower on the list by #3 Beautiful Darkness, #8 Beautiful Chaos, and #11 Beautiful Redemption, the final book in the Gothic romance series by Kami Garcia. These books in the Caster Chronicles series seem to be appealing to young people including fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books.

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