While the number of new books that we get each month has been reduced due to budgetary constraints, I think I can state with confidence that the quality is still there. Even as we near the end of the fiscal year, we have received some great new releases in the past couple of weeks that I think would make some great summer reads. It is definitely not to late for summer reads, it isn't Labor Day yet! Here are just a few new titles that I recently enjoyed and that I think are summer read worthy. I must confess that yes indeed, there are two more dog themed books. I wonder if there is a support group for women who read too many books about dogs? And they say librarians are mostly crazy cat ladies in sensible shoes...
Stay is the debut novel of Allie Larkin and it is definitely “chick lit”, which I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy reading, but one that embraces bigger themes in a more substantial way. I won’t deny that there is the genre staple here of the working class girl (Savannah "Van" Leone) who loves a socially superior boy-loses said boy-has tribulations-good luck finds her-discovers the "real one" who appreciates her for just who she is, social class and all-meme. I really love the heart of this novel and how loving animals can bring out the best in us and almost define what makes us human. Allie is also more realistic than many heroines of this genre, especially her anger and faults are out there to see, she is not perfect and Larkin doesn’t pretend that she is. My biggest complaint is that she buys (!!!) her pup Joe off of the Internet. An even lighter chick lit dog book that is just pure bubbly shallow fun is Home is Where the Bark Is, by Kandy Shepherd.
A Dog's Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron is another new dog-themed debut novel book that has received tons of buzz and interest among reviewers and readers. Like Stay, this book also explores the themes of how our love for animals and their love for us, how that strong resulting bond can have such redemptive and healing powers. I don’t want to give too much away as spoilers here may make you want not to read it because it sounds too contrived but will say it is the story of a journey. This journey is described by an unique voice (voices? The plural might work better here) and I could not put it down, it was a one afternoon read. It was also the proverbial laugh-and-cry (okay, I was sobbing) kind of read. It reminded me of two other books I loved, On the Divinity of Second Chances, by Kaya McLaren and One Good Dog, by Susan Wilson.
Jennifer Weiner is an author whose publication dates for new titles are written in on my calendar and Fly Away Home is her newest and the first book in several years that was not a romantic suspense novel co-written with Bob Mayer (which are good books too!). Her new book centers on the female members of a politician’s family, wife Sylvie and daughters Diana and Lizzie, and how their lives change when the knowledge that he had an affair that erupts into a scandal (shocking, huh? Think John Edwards). The scandal ripples out to encompass his whole family and it shows the collateral damage that occurs through the selfish acts of one person. While this is not my favorite of Weiner’s novels, Good in Bed will always hold that title, she is still able to amaze me with her skill as a writer, she makes it look so easy with her layers of words and richly draw scenes. I also appreciate that her flawed female characters are also physically realistic; I really like this honesty in her writing. Oh, it is also a hoot to read with Weiner’s trademark snappy and witty dialogue. Anything that can make me laugh when the air conditioning is broken down (and the repair guy is AWOL) in 100+ degree heat has got to be pretty darn funny! If this book sounds good to you, try American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld-another excellent read!
p.s. A huge thank you to all of our adult patrons that participated in our 1st Teen and Adult Summer Reading Program - it was a grand success! Almost 900 book reviews were submitted by the 250+ participants. I'll be sharing some of the readers favorite titles and their reviews in the near future.