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 Time to dive into refreshing summer reads…


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FURTHER JOY by John Brandon

In a collection of thirteen new stories, John Brandon gives us a stunning assortment of men and women at the edge of possibility—gamblers and psychics, wanderers and priests, all of them on the verge of finding out what they can get away with, and what they can’t. Ranging from haunted deserts to alligator-filled swamps, these are stories of foul luck and strange visitations, delivered with deadpan humor by an unforgettable voice. {from the publisher}

The opening tale envisions a sort of low-risk version of Strangers on a Train. The interesting part is, we don’t see the characters attempt the actual plan – instead we are treated to their inner hubris-minded thoughts and wince and their short-sightedness.

She’d handed him the wristwatch and given him a long look that expressed mostly disappointment.

Maybe he could patch that up in a few days, but he couldn’t let it distract him right now. It was a bad date with an old flame; that’s all it was. It was time for business, time to look Cuss in his good eye. The reason schemes didn’t occur to most people, he knew, was they couldn’t pull them off. Garner could. This is what he did. ~Pg. 28

It’s well-paced, funny and often skewering look at modern people.

From McSweeney’s
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: McSweeney’s (June 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1938073940
ISBN-13: 978-1938073946


Prime
THE PRIME MINISTER’S SECRET AGENT by Susan Elia MacNeal

World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it’s the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war—and indelibly shape Maggie’s fate. {from the publisher}

This book (the first of a series) will be a favorite for readers of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs or Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford, as well as fans of The Bletchley Circle.
It’s a bit of a police procedural with unofficial detectives.

There were four florists in Edinburgh.

They went to three of them, finding nothing, and finally ending up on Queen Street. The rays from the setting sun turned the castle rose-gold, as the children played in St. James’s Park, the church bell tower swathed in scaffolding. Twin girls in matching blue coats were playing jump rope, which a little boy in overalls and a Fair Isle sweater clung to his grandmother’s hand and pointed up. “Castle! Castle!” he lisped, pointing a chubby finger.

The older woman bent down to adjust his hat. “I know! It’s a great, big castle, innit, darlin’?”

“Of course it’s the last one,” Mark grumbled they turned onto Northumberland Street to find Mary Mason’s Florist. “It’s always the last one.” ~Loc. 2180

Series: Maggie Hope
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345536746
ISBN-13: 978-0345536747
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces


Quick

THE QUICK BY LAUREN OWEN

1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England. {from the publisher}

This book is, simply put, wildly fun. Owen walks the line between realism and fantasy, making the whole world tantalizingly possible. Then there are the self-deprecating remarks about writers and their ilk:

He had his secret yearning, however, an illicit passion: there was talk that the university was soon to offer tuition in English literature. On hearing the news, he had experiences a baffled sense of missing a step, for this ought to have been his fate, and he was only a few years ahead of himself, most likely — if only his birth had been better timed. … It has occurred to him when he was quite young that it would be the very best of things to spend his life writing. … So he might still write, if he wanted. And he could live in London, where a writer ought to live and where things would happen. He would be a flâneur, wandering the streets, seeing everything, observed by none. That evening he wrote in his memorandum book, Life was a capital must be lived in the Capital, and he was pleased with the sentiment.  ~Loc. 479

What starry-eyed writer hasn’t had these stirrings themselves? The butterflies in the stomach, egging them on? And what disenchanted, half-starved scribbler hasn’t laughed at their idealism?

Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Random House (June 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0812993276
ISBN-13: 978-0812993271
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.7 inches

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