Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Reading List

Summer officially arrives next week, so with high hopes of enjoying more than a few lazy days lost in the pages of a book and my own imagination, I hit the net and Amazon to find some prospective gems for my 2012 summer reading list. While it wasn't a conscious decision, you'll note that my list is strictly composed of works of fiction, most of which are spine tingling thrillers, sure to help me battle the prolonged bouts of what I call 'the lazies' aka the heat-induced lethargy that turns me from an inactive couch potato to a near sloth-like creature who prefers expending the merest modicum of effort during the dog days of summer.

This six book list includes some edge of your seat page-turners, as well as hopefully some good laughs such as with Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, who's written for such shows as Arrested Development, Ellen and Mad About You. Here's my list; hopefully one or two of my selections make your list too.

In Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (to be released August 14, 2012), Bernadette Fox is notorious. A fearlessly opinionated partner to her hubby; a revolutionary architect to design mavens, but to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world. (Sure to be a winner if it's written with Arrested Development-like wit.)

In Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (released June 5, 2012), Catherine has been enjoying the single life, when she meets Lee who seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything. This is an edgy and powerful first novel, utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, and a tour de force of suspense. (Puts me in mind of "Sleeping with the Enemy.")

In What Comes Next by John Katzenbach (released June 5, 2012), a retired professor witnesses a young woman being kidnapped off the street, and is unsatisfied by the police response so he vows to find her on his own. The pretty teen has been kidnapped and held prisoner by a married couple who have started an exclusive website, named “What Comes Next,” on which viewers can watch, in real time, what befalls their victims. What befalls the pretty teenager at the hands of the depraved couple, as thousands follow every moment of her nightmare, provides one of the most terrifying novels of the year. (Sounds a little twisted, but with tons of potential if it's well written.)

In The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (to be released June 26, 2012), the world is ending not with a bang so much as a long, drawn-out whimper. And it turns out the whimper can be a lot harder to cope with. The Earth's rotation slows, gradually stretching out days and nights and subtly affecting the planet's gravity. The looming apocalypse parallels the adolescent struggles of 10-year-old Julia, as her comfortable suburban life succumbs to a sort of domestic deterioration. Julia confronts her parents' faltering marriage, illness, the death of a loved one, her first love, and her first heartbreak.

In The Last Victim by Karen Robards (to be released August 7, 2012), Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not..ghosts. A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie survived a serial killer’s bloodbath in her youth, and because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. Years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world. Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help. (Robards is sure to deliver the perfect balance of thrills and romance.)

In You Don’t Want to Know by Lisa Jackson (to be released August 1, 2012), Ava's two-year-old son Noah went missing two years ago, and his body has never been found. Ava has spent most of the past two years in and out of Seattle mental institutions, shattered by grief and unable to recall the details of Noah's disappearance. Now she's back at the family estate she once intended to restore to its former grandeur. But as Ava's mind comes back into focus, her suspicions grow. Ava can't shake the feeling that her family and her psychologist know more than they're saying. Unwilling to trust those around her, Ava secretly visits a hypnotist to try and restore her memories. But the strange visions and night terrors keep getting worse. Ava is sure she's heard Noah crying in the nursery, and glimpsed him walking near the dock. Is she losing her mind, or is Noah still alive? Ava won't stop until she gets answers, but the price may be more than she ever thought to pay.