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'Weekend Today' summer reading picks

With summer fast approaching, what new books should you consider for the season? John Searles from Cosmopolitan magazine shares some top choices for those lazy days of surf and sun.
/ Source: Weekend Today

With summer fast approaching, what new books should you consider for the season? John Searles from Cosmopolitan magazine shares some top choices for those lazy days of surf and sun.

Hardcover fiction

One Dangerous Lady
What better place to start summer reading than Barbados? “One Dangerous Lady” by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, welcomes back crafty heroine, Jo Slater, as she returns to New York's social elite in style-- jaunting to the island paradise and hoping to catch the eye of a suave, and wealthy Englishman. Of course, that's hardly the beginning. An art collector and Jo's old friend, Russell Cole, disappears, and suddenly his young wife soars suspiciously to the top of high society. Naturally, Jo knows something isn't right. As the story unfolds, and Jo gets drawn deeper into the mystery, she soon finds that her return to the upper-crust might not go as smoothly as she had hoped. Jane Stanton Hitchcock is also author of Edgar Award and Hammett Prize nominee “Trick of the Eye,” the best-seller “Social Crimes,” and “The Witches' Hammer.”

Specimen Days
The latest book from Michael Cunningham, “Specimen Days,” follows the structure of his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Hours,” wrapping readers in three stories in one book. This time the characters are Luke, Simon and Catherine, cast in stories that each take place during chronological time periods. The first narrative, "In the Machine", casts the trio in an eerie Industrial Revolution ghost story; "The Children's Crusade" throws them into a dark and thrilling plot exploring love in the midst of terrorism; and lastly, "Like Beauty" thrusts them into the future to a time when aliens have changed the face of Earth, and Catherine herself is one. Woven throughout each of the stories is the specter of legendary poet Walt Whitman, whose reach in this critically-acclaimed book goes much further than its title.

The Historian
Alone in her father's library, a curious 16-year-old girl exploring the shelves discovers a hidden, ancient book. Strangely the pages are blank; the book contains only two things: aging letters all with the unsettling greeting, "My Dear and Unfortunate Successor..." and an ominous etching of a dragon clutching one word: Dracula. Such opens the first 10 pages of “The Historian,” the debut novel from Yale grad and Hopwood Award winner, Elizabeth Kostova. The rest of the book follows the girl, the book's narrator, across Europe and into the past as she and her father unveil the closely-guarded truths about one of the most evil legends in history, and she finds herself, as her father had feared, his "unfortunate successor" in the quest.

A Long Way Down
It’s New Year’s Eve, and instead of partying or celebrating with friends and family, four strangers find themselves on a rooftop in London. A 50-something mother, a struggling musician, an angry teen, and a former TV talk-show host plan to make that night their last. But when each individual finds they weren’t the only one with the idea of suicide, their plans to end their lives gradually begin to change. Nick Hornby, author of “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy,” tells the story of how four strangers help each other deal with life’s toughest issues of love, pain, friendship, and the will to live.

Falls the Shadow Victor Carl, the admittedly "self-absorbed, self-serving" defense attorney that William Lashner somehow manages to endear readers to returns in “Falls the Shadow.” This time he's seeking a new trial for a wealthy French chef convicted of murdering his young wife and, against his better judgment, taking on a case pro bono. Joining Victor along the way is a dentist named Dr. Bob who seems to enjoy prying into more than the molars of his patients, Victor no exception. But as their relationship and Victor's investigation into the young woman's murder deepen, he disturbingly discovers that Dr. Bob may be at the root of this mystery. Told with a wit and irreverence atypical of your dark thriller, “Falls the Shadow” is sure to keep readers smiling and turning the pages.


Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough tells the story of the most important year during the Revolutionary War. In “1776,” McCullough uses his historical expertise along with numerous source materials to accurately portray both the British and American side to some of the most crucial events leading to American independence. This follow-up to McCullough’s award winning biography, John Adams, is a literary tribute to General George Washington and the many outclassed Americans who fought against the odds to preserve the independence that makes our country what it is today.


Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman
Alice Steinbach couldn’t find enough excitement at home, so the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun quit her job to travel the world. After chronicling the tales of her trip to Europe in “Without Reservations,” she decided there was still more to be learned in “Educating Alice,” Steinbach tells of her quest to continue educating herself. During her travels, she takes many different kinds of lessons, including French cooking in Paris, Japanese arts in Kyoto, and writing in the Czech Republic. Her optimism and humorous tales are sure to inspire any reader to become a student once again. 

Strange but True
Even judging solely by the story's premise, “Strange but True” is a fitting title for this second novel from best-selling author John Searles. Philip Chase left his pint-sized apartment and the craziness of Manhattan to live with his mom, Charlene, in the Pennsylvania suburbs. He's found complacency in glow of the TV and cushiness of the couch. Just five years earlier, however, his brother Ronnie died in a tragic, prom-night car crash and since then, his mom has never been the same. But on a winter night, no later than the book's first paragraph, Ronnie's high-school girlfriend, Melissa, calls with news that shakes both Philip and his mom out of their melancholy... Melissa is pregnant, and Ronnie is the father. The narrative that follows takes the Chases through a story of suspense and revenge, and readers into a late night of page-turning.

Audiobooks for iPod

Lost in the Forest
It is in Northern California's wine country where Sue Miller sets her latest novel, this time intoxicating readers with a tale of loss and grief, love and dangerous intimacy in “Lost in the Forest.” Eva is divorced, but has remarried and found happiness. She has a boy and two girls, and is even on good terms with the ex-husband who cheated on her in her first marriage. All of that changes when her husband, John, is hit by a car and dies. While Eva spirals into a seemingly inconsolable depression, her ex-husband Mark finds that he's still in love with her. Meanwhile, Eva's 15-year-old daughter, Daisy, can only cope with her father's death through the tragically unparental, and unconsionable love of another older man. It is Miller's careful treatment of her characters and how they deal with these sensitive subjects that have critics calling “Lost in the Forest” one of her strongest and most poignant works exploring the very real and darker sides of family life.

Great Expectations
Charles Dickens’ thirteenth novel, and second to last book published before he died, may be his greatest. The story follows the life of an orphan boy named Pip who starts out living in poverty with his sister and adoptive father.  Throughout the story, he encounters a convict in a graveyard, a grim old lady and her foster child, and a mysterious benefactor who all play a role in moving Pip up the Victorian social ladder. He soon finds himself in London with great expectations for life among the upper class. Written in the last decade of his life, “Great Expectations” portrays Dickens’ views on the struggle of friendship and love in a materialistic Victorian society.