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Editorial June 2006: Summer Reading 06
By Hilary Williamson

'A good book is never exhausted. It goes on whispering to you from the wall.'
(Anatole Broyard from The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life)

It's getting to that time of year when bookworms (and loons) start to assess the year's maturing crop for books to sink their teeth into during the lazy days of summer. It's time to settle down feet up in a garden or beach chair, to lounge in a hammock, or gather with like minded friends to digest a well chosen book together over glasses of wine or iced tea. These recent selections in different genres were not easily exhausted, but lingered with BookLoons reviewers.

Love and Other Impossible PursuitsBelieve in the adage 'Know thyself'? In Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Ayelet Waldman shows how a developing relationship with her insufferable small stepson helps a grieving woman to see herself and her motivations more honestly and to appreciate life's 'inexplicable grace'. Like Alice Sebold's runaway bestseller The Lovely Bones, Jacquelyn Mitchard's Cage of Stars centers on horrendous events and a family's reaction to them, but in this case it's a Mormon family and their teen daughter who come through the experience with amazing grace.

Here are two with an unusual theme - conjoined twins. In The Girls by Lori Lansens, the oldest surviving craniopagus twins in history narrate a testimonial to sisterly love. In DBC Pierre's Ludmila's Broken English, separated male twins travel to meet a teen Soviet mail order bride and end up fighting for their lives. Taking a summer break from a corporate job? Then read Max Barry's Company, a delicious satire on corporate life revolving around the mystery of a missing donut. Looking for something graphically different? Both Evan Kuhlman's Wolf Boy and Jodi Picoult's Tenth Circle incorporate comic books within the main story.

In the Company of the CourtesanPrefer to escape into history? In Sarah Dunant's In the Company of the Courtesan, a talented young Roman courtesan is forced to start over in Venice. What makes the story unique is its dwarf's-eye perspective. Amy Hassinger's The Priest's Madonna alternates between the complex relationship a modern French teenager has with her parish priest, and the experiences of Mary Magdalene following her beloved Savior. And in Dreaming the Serpent Spear, Manda Scott brings her brilliant saga of Britain's Celtic warrior queen, the Boudica, to a fitting and triumphant conclusion.

Mysteries come in many guises, ranging from humor to horror. If you enjoy a touch of hilarity with your puzzler, try Marshall Karp's Rabbit Factory, in which Rambunctious Rabbit is murdered at fun-filled Familyland. Tim Dorsey can always be counted on for a sidesplitting mystery, as in his bodacious Big Bamboo. Like legal thrillers? In Paul Levine's Deep Blue Alibi, attorneys Solomon and Lord take on a legal case - and each other. On a more serious note, Tami Hoag's heroine in Prior Bad Acts is a tough young judge in turmoil.

Gentlemen & PlayersPrefer to travel for your murders? Anglophiles must read Joanne Harris's first venture into the genre, Gentlemen & Players, a shocker set in an English boys' school, as well as Michael Robotham's wheels within wheels Lost. Speaking of Brits, these two recommended reads have a Sherlock Holmes connection. Michael Kurland's Empress of India places Professor Moriarty aboard the ocean liner in a baffling 1890 mystery. And in Laurie R. King's The Art of Detection, an unpublished Holmes story is the catalyst for modern murder, investigated by San Franciso Inspector Kate Martinelli.

Looking for easy, very fast-paced reading packed with thrills and chills? The ever-popular James Patterson has two out so far this year - The 5th Horseman (with Maxine Paetro) and Beach Road (with Peter De Jonge). And Lisa Jackson's Shiver is a non-stop thrill ride with elements of romance and horror. Speaking of horror, Michael Gruber's Night of the Jaguar places a South American Indian shaman - and a jaguar - in South Florida, while Miyuki Miyabe's Crossfire takes us to a modern Japan where powerful psychic abilities manifest.

Prayers for the AssassinNow that we're into the fantastic (I truly hope this one is!), consider Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin, set in a near future (2042) society changed after nuclear blasts devastated major cities around the world. An impressive SF debut this year is Tobias S. Buckell's Crystal Rain, with sea, sky, and space conflicts, diverse cultures, old secrets, mysterious characters, and a desperate race to save humankind. And Daniel Abraham's A Shadow in Summer is a very promising new fantasy series - this 1st in a quartet examines hard choices between justice and vengeance, truth and compromise.

So sink your teeth into these summer reads, chew slowly, and digest them well - may they go on whispering to you from wall, wind, and water - whatever surrounds you where you settle comfortably down with that enticing book pile.
For further suggestions on great romance and chick lit reads, don't miss our Summer Romance Report, coming soon.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.