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Summer Reading
By Hilary Williamson

Summertime and the reading is easy ... and so often interrupted to listen to a loon, take a dip in the water, refresh drinks, throw a burger on the barbecue, rescue cats from trees or kids from each other. It's hard to concentrate on more than one character at a time. Rewarding but complex novels like Blind Assassin or Revelation Space are not for this season, unless you can manage to set up a hermitage in a hammock somewhere quiet and stay focused. Instead, head back to a simpler time with John Grisham's new A Painted House or Tony Earley's heartwarming Jim the Boy.

There's nothing like a good mystery for summertime diversion. If you enjoy the great outdoors, join Nevada Barr in Blood Lure. Take a lakeside vacation with Barbara Delinsky's Lake News or Andrew Greeley's Irish Eyes. Prefer to go overseas? Try Tunisia and Lyn Hamilton's African Quest or fly farther to Japan for Sujata Massey's Floating Girl. If you find those too hot to handle, cool off in Antarctica with William Dietrich's thriller Dark Winter.

You can enjoy a very cozy time in the Scottish Highlands with Beaton's Death of a Dustman or motor South to Cambridge for Michelle Spring's intriguing Nights in White Satin. It's a quick drive from there to Glastonbury and Deborah Crombie's A Finer End. For more police procedurals, take a trans-Atlantic flight to sunny L.A. and Faye Kellerman's Stalker or head North to San Francisco and watch the Women's Murder Club catch their killer in Patterson's entertaining 1st To Die.

Like a historical flavor to your escapist reading? Savor nettle pie in Ancient Rome with Lindsey Davis' amusing Ode to a Banker or try the waters of King Tut's Egypt in Lynda Robinson's Slayer of Gods. Speaking of Egypt, Amelia Peabody is still poking her parasol into trouble in Peters' He Shall Thunder in the Sky. For something a little more serious, join Dinah and her mothers in biblical times with Anita Diamant's Red Tent or take the heat of historical New Orleans in Barbara Hambly's Sold Down the River.

Speculative fiction is steadily increasing in popularity as a break from routine. Iain Banks' Inversions is a powerful read, as is Octavia Butler's Wild Seed. For cozy SF, enjoy Anne McCaffrey's latest Skies of Pern or Piper's cute sapients in The Complete Fuzzy. Cherryh's Foreigner series (Precursor) is always good for alien adventure. In military SF enjoy great Marine space fun with Ian Douglas' Heritage Trilogy or try Tanya Huff's Valor's Choice for exciting action on a distant planet.

Steven Gould shows us a future with melting ice caps in Blind Waves and if you're worried about water quality, dip into Nicola Griffith's Slow River. Other Fantastic escapes include Kage Baker's Mendoza in Hollywood, Cecelia Dart-Thornton's Ill-Made Mute, which begins an exciting new series and Paula Volsky's romp around an extraordinary world in The Grand Ellipse. If you haven't found Michelle West's enthralling Sun Sword epic yet, then jump in and read Sea of Sorrows. Or try the first of a thrilling new series full of hair-raising adventures - Ian Irvine's Shadow on the Glass.

Hot reads for Teens (which also make great summer reads for the rest of us) include T.A. Barron's Lost Years of Merlin books, Peter Beagle's remarkable Tamsin, Diana Wynne-Jones' charming Chrestomanci series, Philip Pullman's Amber Spyglass and Darren Shan's 'living nightmare', Cirque Du Freak. Capture the magic of summer vacation (and of adolescence) with Jerry Spinelli's Space Station Seventh Grade, and brush up on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books to be ready for the movie - the trailers look terrific.

Have a sizzling summer in which the living is easy, and the reading both rewarding and relaxing.
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