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Video: Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich share summer reads

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TODAY books
updated 6/28/2012 8:37:25 AM ET 2012-06-28T12:37:25

Summer’s finally arrived and it’s once again the ideal time to explore your reading options. This season, we’ve asked two revered novelists to cite their favorites for three specific criteria: books for the beach, books for a rainy day and books for under the covers. Here, New York Times bestselling authors Charlaine Harris and Janet Evanovich share their picks.

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Charlaine Harris' picks

At the beach

“Wicked Autumn”
By G.M. Malliet
(Minotaur)
MI5 agent turned Anglican priest Max Tudor has created a new life for himself in his parish of Nether Monkslip. Wanda Batton-Smythe is murdered at the Harvest Fayre, and almost everyone is a suspect. All the women in Tudor’s parish are trying to hook him up, but he remains resolutely unengaged, though he’s definitely interested in the opposite sex. Intelligent, charming writing make this a standout and a return to the traditional English village mystery.

“Let's Pretend This Never Happened”
By Jenny Lawson
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
The Bloggess writes essays about her Texas childhood and her marriage that are witty, sardonic, and literally horribly funny. Your friends will ask you why you’re laughing so hard.

“Discount Armageddon”
By Seanan McGuire
(Daw)
Verity Price, cryptozoologist and professional ballroom dancer, protects monsters from humanity and humanity from monsters. When a monster slayer comes to her city, she has big issues with him. And there are singing mice in her apartment.

For a rainy day

“The Rook”
By Daniel O'Malley
(Little, Brown)
An alternative universe thriller with a fascinating premise. Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in an area littered with dead bodies. She realizes she has made them that way. She has to recreate her life with clues left by her former self, and she’s instantly in the middle of a deadly game. Complex and compelling, and not a little funny.

“Defending Jacob”
By William Landay
(Delacorte)
A suspenseful story about a family in deep distress. A district attorney is appalled when his son is not only suspected of killing a classmate, but is arrested and goes to trial. The father stubbornly refuses to believe that his son is involved in his friend’s death, though his own background argues that self-deception is everywhere. The gallant pathos that characterizes D.A. Andy Barber involves the reader in his terrible plight, and we all want to know if Jacob is guilty or not.

“When Will There Be Good News?”
By Kate Atkinson
(Little, Brown)
Diverse writer Atkinson soars in this startling, complex novel about a terrible murder and its echoes. Her detective Jackson Brodie comes into the narrative when he boards the wrong train in Yorkshire, and the train crashes. Atkinson’s juggling of the many story lines is absolutely brilliant.

Under the covers

“Those Across The River”
By Christopher Buehlman
(Ace)
One of the scariest books I’ve read in years, this is a depression-era novel about an illicit couple who seek solitude at a cabin in a remote area. Across the river, there are some strange people, people with whom the local townsfolk have a strange relationship. Suspenseful and shocking.

“Once Burned”
By Jeaniene Frost
(Avon)
Anything Jeaniene Frost writes is both really hot and intelligently written. This book, about an ancient vampire and a circus performer who’s literally charged with electricity. You’ll never be bored.

“The Warded Man”
By Peter Brett
(Del Rey)
In a world in which demons emerge after dark, three young people from different situations develop their own ways to live in a constrictive world with danger literally on top of them every time the sun goes down. Great writing, lots of tense scenes.

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Janet Evanovich's picks

At the beach

“I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me”
By Joan Rivers
(Berkley)
I had to fly out of Florida in the middle of a tropical storm and I wouldn't have have made it without Joan. Her new book, “I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me” is the perfect book for a gork flight — perfect sound bites of absolute wisdom!

“Lullaby”
By Ace Atkins
(Putnam Adult)
In “Lullaby,” Ace Atkins picked up expertly where my old friend Bob Parker left off. He absolutely nails the voices Of Spenser and Hawk.

“The After Wife: A Novel”
By Gigi Levangie Grazer
(Ballantine)
I love to read stories about “normal” people who have a little special "something" that sets them just a bit apart from regular folks. My publisher gave me Gigi Levangie Grazer’s upcoming novel, “The After Wife: A Novel,” and it’s fabulous. The main character, Hannah, who lives in Los Angeles, loses her husband and in her grief, finds she has a special ability that helps her find a new life for herself and her young daughter. Hannah couldn't be more different from me but I rooted for her. Grazer's dialogue is fast and funny. It will be out on July 10th.

For a rainy day

“Medium Raw”
By Anthony Bourdain
(Ecco)
My writing schedule is so crazy I don’t get much time to travel so I let Tony Bourdain do my traveling and SOME of my eating for me! I love “No Reservations” and I loved his most recent book, “Medium Raw.” He takes me places I'll never get to and eats things I know I won't have the courage to eat myself.

“Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes”
By Bobby Flay
(Clarkson Potter)
Speaking of food, I love it!! and though I don't cook a lot when I do, I love to try recipes from “Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes.” There nothing better than a burger and Bobby Flay is cute and he can cook! The pictures are amazing.

“Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”
By the Countess of Carnarvon
(Broadway)
Who isn't obsessed with Downton Abbey? I loved reading about the real Downton — Highclare Castle — and Lady Almina, who opened the doors of her home to treat the wounded of WWI. “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” by the Countess of Carnarvon was a fascinating look at that time and a woman who was ahead of her time.

Under the covers


“Heat Rises”
By Richard Castle
(Hyperion)
Remember "Moonlighting” ? I love the sexual tension of that show and the show Castle takes that he said/she said banter to a new level. The Castle books are sexy, the crime fighting is top notch and has the kind of romantic tension I love.

“Ravished”
By Amanda Quick
(Bantam)
It’s not summer to me without a Regency romance. And I love Amanda Quick. I just read “Ravished” and it has everything a great historical romance should — smart writing, complex characters and a compelling plot with a lot of emotion and humor. Plus the guy is HOT.

“Rafa”
By Rafael Nadal
(Hyperion)
I'm reading “Rafa,” the autobiography of Rafael Nadal. He can really smack a ball and the photo on the cover is worth the price of the book!

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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