You know the routine. Summertime rolls around, and we all decide to pick up a few paperbacks. There’s that trip coming up, and time at the beach…Maybe we read them, and maybe we don’t, but when Autumn comes, somehow we forget how great it was to just tuck a book in a bag and go.
I love escapism! In BECOMING CLEMENTINE, Jennifer Niven takes us back in time to World War II Europe. This is a continuation of the popular series featuring heroine Velva Jean Hart. With this book, Niven is able to write about some unsung heroes of the war, the women who served in the WASP Corps (Women Airforce Service Pilots). In 1944, Velva Jean becomes the second woman in history to pilot a bomber, the B-17 “Flying Fortress,” across the Atlantic Ocean. After landing in Prestwick, Scotland, Velva Jean volunteers to help fly a plane over Normandy. She hopes to find her missing brother, Johnny Clay, but when the plane is shot down in France, she’s forced to assume the role of a spy. As Clementine Roux, she begins to lose herself in the part, and starts falling in love with Emile, a dashing and mysterious Frenchman. Fans of Niven’s “Velva Jean Learns to Drive” and “Velva Jean Learns to Fly” will be delighted with this sequel.
Author Sarita Mandanna is originally from Coorg, India. She uses her knowledge of her native country to great advantage in TIGER HILLS. Set on a coffee plantation in Southern India at the turn of the twentieth Century, the novel revolves around the beautiful Devi; her shy friend Devanna, who is unable to express his love for her; and Machu, a famous hunter who captures Devi’s heart. The book spans decades, and intertwines the forces of love, betrayal, and fate. Mandanna was hailed as a rising author to watch with this, her debut novel, because of her vivid imagery.
When author Marisa de los Santos first visited the Philippines in her twenties, she was captivated by her father’s native culture. In FALLING TOGETHER, Cebu City and the surrounding islands are portrayed in such a way we feel that we’ve been there, too. The story revolves around Pen, Will, and Cat, three friends who meet the first week of their freshman year of college. Though they quickly become close, and stay friends for years, their paths sharply diverge. When Pen, now the single mother of a five-year-old girl, gets a desperate message from Cat, urging her to come to an upcoming college reunion, she agrees to go. What follows is an around the world journey that impacts the lives and the futures of the old friends.
THINGS REMEMBERED, by Georgia Bockoven, also involves how our past influences our future. Karla Esterbrook answers the call of her grandmother Anna, who’s very ill, and returns to her childhood home of Northern California. It’s a painful journey for Karla, because of difficult memories; a bitter clash of wills leaves both grandmother and granddaughter angry and feeling estranged. But they are family, and the local veterinarian Anna thinks will be perfect for Karla helps to heal the wounds. An added bonus in this edition is the inclusion of recipes at the back of the book.
Heroine Dawn West is trying to make ends meet in New York. She jumps on the opportunity to track down the past winners of Charm Magazine’s THE GIRLS TO WATCH contest. Charity Shumway captures the excitement and desperation of a young woman just starting out in the world, and the importance of role models. West must separate from an ex-boyfriend who’s not right for her, her online lawn care advice column, and even her small town upbringing in Oregon. What she finds in interviewing the contest winners is that happiness and success can have different meanings to different people, and that each of us must find our own route to contentment.
Not the least of its charms is that M.C. Beaton’s DEATH OF A PRANKSTER is a small size paperback that can easily fit in most pocketbooks. This is a mystery featuring Hamish Macbeth, Beaton’s popular Constable from Lochdubh, in the Highlands of Scotland. There’s the expected dead body, in this case, wealthy Andrew Trent, who loves to pull practical jokes. Closed mouth relatives of the old prankster are no help whatsoever. But will Hamish’s ex-flame, the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, help or hinder the investigation?
Remember all those times we get stuck in a long line at the store, we’re forced to endure a traffic jam that just won’t quit, or we end up eating lunch alone, and always keep a paperback with you for company.
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