This summer has been a steam bath for the East Coast. Across the country, there’s been wild weather; we’re stuck with political rhetoric and raving every time we turn on the News; and, a certain sign of the coming apocalypse, Tom and Katie have broken up. But before we lose ourselves crying in our beer, let’s cheer up! Some of our favorite authors have wonderful new novels we can read to ease the pain.
If loving David Baldacci is wrong, I don’t want to be right. THE INNOCENT is exactly what we’ve come to expect from this master of suspense. There’s jam-packed action, twists and turns around every curve, and flesh-and-blood characters who elicit our concern. Will Robie is a government hit man who never questions his orders- until he does. Robie refuses to kill, and thereby sets himself up as a target. When he decides to flee to New York City in the middle of the night, fate introduces him to a fourteen-year-old runaway named Julie. No ordinary girl, she has witnessed her parents murder, and her own life is in jeopardy. The hit man and the troubled teen team up to solve a mystery, and find themselves in much deeper water than they could have imagined.
THE ROAD TO GRACE features a different kind of escape, both physical and mental. Richard Paul Evans has the unique ability to combine top rate story telling with inspirational messages. When Alan Christofferson loses his wife to a terrible accident, and his home and business to an unscrupulous business partner, he feels his present life is no longer worth living. So, he begins to walk away from it- literally. This sequel to the Evans bestseller “Miles To Go” finds Alan leaving Wall Drug and the Corn Palace of South Dakota, and heading toward St. Louis. Along the way, Alan interacts with a woman seeking forgiveness, a ghost hunter, ladies from the Red Hat Society, and a Polish Holocaust survivor. When he ends up in a St. Louis hospital, he finds he has to deal with much more than just his ongoing vertigo.
Popular author Jodi Picoult, on the road with a book tour, got a call from daughter Samantha Van Leer. Samantha had a great idea for a book, and proposed that she and Jodi write it together; and for the next two year, that’s just what they did. The result is BETWEEN THE LINES, an enchanting YA novel. What if a character from a book continued to live a life after the book was written? What if he wanted to get out of the book, and what if someone fell in love with him, and wanted to help? This is the unique situation facing Delilah, an unhappy teenager, and Prince Oliver, her favorite character from a library book with which she is obsessed. Not only is it easy to see that Samantha shares her mom’s great imagination and skill at creating appealing characters, but this book also has captivating illustrations in both color and black and white.
Nora Ephron will be sorely missed by everyone who appreciated her wit and facility with dialogue. Fortunately for us, her sister Delia Ephron has her own unique and entertaining writing style, as evidenced by her latest book, THE LION IS IN. Three women decide to run away: Rita, whose domineering religious zealot husband has made her doubt her own ability to think and make decisions; Tracee, a “runaway bride” and kleptomaniac; and Lana, a beauty who’s a recovering alcoholic. They are able to put aside their differences and personal problems when they encounter Marcel, a retired circus lion who’s stuck in a cage – literally.
If you haven’t yet fallen in love with the novels of Jacqueline Winspear, ELEGY FOR EDDIE is a great place to start. Maisie Dobbs is the heroine of Winspear’s series, which is set in England during the first half of the twentieth century. Here, the year is 1933; the friends of Eddie Pettit are saddened by his violent death, and more than a little skeptical. Who would want to kill one of the costermongers, those sellers of fruits and vegetables at Covent Garden? When Maisie decides to investigate, she uncovers a hornet’s nest of secrets, which will ultimately lead to Britain being involved in yet another world war. And what is Maisie to make of one washed up politician, a fellow named Winston Churchill?
Now available in paperback, Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIAN KING is a follow up to his runaway hit, “The Magicians.” In the magical land of Fillory, Quentin has been crowned a king. Everything should be perfect, but instead, he’s just plain bored. Quentin and his friend Julia, who has learned black magic on her own, set out on a quest to the mysterious outer edges of the kingdom. Quentin is horrified when he finds himself in the last place he ever wants to be again, the stultifying suburban home of his parents.
Let the heat melt away, and let the politicians rant on. We can close the blinds, turn off the TV, and delve into the worlds of these really splendid books this summer.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com
Opening Photo from Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer courtesy of Simon Pulse/Emily Bestler Books/Atria