Sunday, August 14, 2011

Good Reads for Summer...and Beyond

I've reached the point where I have no new books to recommend to reading groups.  I'm on several waiting lists at the library, so until then, I'm wandering through my bookcases.

And here is what I've found, treasures all!

1.  'Gospel' by Wilton Barnhardt.  I read this book every year, and because it's so packed with all kinds of 'goodies', I always find something new.  The major protagonists are on the search for a lost gospel and they travel the world to find it.  The characters are so well drawn that you will fall in love with them.  Redemption, regret, surprises, and the 'you can't go home again' theme flavor this most satisfying read.  Mr. Barnhardt has filled his story with a great deal of humor and introspection.

2.  'Heartsick', 'Sweetheart', et al by Chelsea Cain.  Chelsea is a Portland writer, and her 'Gretchen and Archie' series is set in the city I love so much.  She captures, with great genius, the weird relationship between a cool blonde serial killer and the detective who captured her.  Add to this delicious mix an intrepid female reporter and you have a series of books you will not put down.  

3.  'Dog On It', et al by Spencer Quinn.  This series is a must-read!  If you're looking for something light, entertaining, and amusing, Spencer's 'Chet and Bernie' books are a perfect fit.  After reading the first book, 'Dog On It', I became an avid fan.  Bernie is a down-on-his luck private eye, and Chet is his partner and best friend.  The wonderful twist is that Chet is a dog, and he narrates the entire series.  The love and loyalty both characters share is at the heart of these stories, and the doggy humor is spot on (pun intended).  Chet is so popular now that he has his very own Facebook page.  Check it out and perhaps you'll post a picture of your own best friend.

4.  'Harry Potter' series, by J.K. Rowling.  When I was working at a B. Dalton store several years ago, many children would ask me if we had the Harry Potter book.  Curiosity soon got the better of me, and I decided to see what all the fuss was about among the younger set.  I was up until 3am reading it, and made the very smart decision to buy it the next day.  Shortly thereafter, the second book in the series made it into our store, and I promptly bought it.  I now have the entire series, and I read them every year.  J.K. Rowling has reignited our desire for a well-told story...and brought childhood back to jaded adults.  Although the movies are great, read the books, too.  Maybe they will make you wish that Hogwarts was real.

5.  'Roma' by Steven Saylor  I love historical fiction, especially if the author has done his/her research.  One of my favorite eras is ancient Rome, and the only book I've found that has captured my interest of that historical time is 'I, Claudius' by Robert Graves.  I was rather apprehensive when I first picked up a copy of 'Roma', but after reading the first chapter, I was instantly immersed in the story.  It begins with the beginning, when Rome was merely a gritty, swamp-filled trade route.  Each chapter portrays the growth of the city seen through the eyes of a patrician family.  No biography of Rome is complete without the story of Romulus and Remus, and Mr. Saylor writes about them in a very interesting way.  

I hope that you give these books a try.  You just might find a new favorite.


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