Saturday, August 1, 2015

August to Watch for

Summer reading is in full swing for August, here's a few things to keep an eye out for.

Dogland: by Jacki Skole (August 1). Dogs are all over publishing these days: mostly in heartwarming stories of the rescue pup who charmed/nutured/saved the family that took it in. This book is an investigative piece into the darker side of dog rescue -- the stories of how all those dogs end up in shelters looking for new homes. "Soon after Jacki Skole brought home an eight-week-old puppy from a New Jersey rescue organization, she wondered how such a young animal could have so many idiosyncrasies-so she set out to find an answer. Dogland, an extraordinary mix of memoir and investigative journalism, follows Skole's journey to trace the origins of her newest family member. Along the way, Skole interviewed dozens who work in the world of animal rescue-from shelter managers to animal rights activists-taking readers from dilapidated county-run shelters in the South to strip malls in the Northeast where rescue groups seek homes for homeless pets, and from rural and urban "vet deserts" to the very heart of the South's complex relationship with companion dogs. Amid the serious issues facing shelter dogs in America, Skole found tireless animal advocates and humble visionaries who believe their ideas and their passion can save canine lives throughout the South-and the entire United States."

Two Across by Jeff Bartsch (August 4). I'm not sure if this book got me at "awkward teenager", "spelling bee" or "crossword puzzle" but it definitely sounds like the sort of book I'd like to spend a lazy summer afternoon reading. "Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives. Though their mothers have big plans for them--Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor--neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she's secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her. Realizing the truth only after she's moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he's unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it's all too late."

The Blue by Lucy Clarke (August 11). This high seas adventure sounds perfect for summer reading by the lake or the ocean (you just may not want to go in the water afterwards). "In the tradition of Alex Garland’s The Beach, a spine-tingling adventure novel about a group of friends whose journey around the world on a yacht turns from a trip to paradise into a chilling nightmare when one of them disappears at sea." Clarke's previous book was also a popular summer thriller: Swimming at Night was released in 2013.

The Drowning Ground by James Marrison (August 25): Guillermo Downes -- actually, that's Detective Chief Inspector Guillermo Downes-- left Argentina for the English Cotswolds in hope of finding a quieter life but readers everywhere know of the dangers that lurk in the English Countryside of mystery novels. "When the body of wealthy landowner Frank Hurst is found with a pitchfork through his neck, it brings back disturbing memories of former mysteries. Hurst's wife drowned in their swimming pool-an official accident, though many villagers have their doubts. And what about the two young girls who were abducted years before, with some possible links to Hurst that were never proven?" Booklist Magazine says this one is for fans of Elizabeth George and Peter Robinson: this one sounds like the first in a new series, might as well get in early.

Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (August 25). What caught my eye with this one wasn't the plot (although it has its charms which we'll get to) but its initial print run of 20000 copies in Canada. That's a lot: the publisher is expecting big things of this debut. "It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life--has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time--bravely decides to accept her unknown friend's invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home." Comparisons to everything from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to Jane Austen to the movie Love Actually -- or maybe it's a blend of all of them. We've got a minimal hold list at this point -- act fast and you might be in on the ground floor of the next big thing.

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