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Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: 8 Summer Reads … ‘Blue Plate Special,’ ‘The Best Man’ and more

BookBitsWe’re almost half-way through the traditional summer vacation months, a time when some people have had so much free time for reading, the nightstand is now free of fresh, new books. Here are a few summer reads to help you get through to September, reading-wise and enjoyment-wise.

Have fun!

  • blueplarespecialMemoir “Blue Plate Special: an Autobiography of My Appetites,” by Kate Christensen, interviewed by Dave Davies – “When you say I was a victim I say, ‘Was I?’ I don’t really identify that way. I see it as, I was a young girl far from home, and this man, he liked to paw me, repeatedly. But … I didn’t allow myself to be upset by it. I didn’t allow myself to really feel the full extent of the rage that might’ve been a more appropriate response than the passivity and the silence that I met it with.” NPR  … “A novelist’s deliciously engrossing exploration of her life through the two major passions that have defined it: food and writing…A Rabelaisian celebration of appetite, complete with savory recipes, that genuinely satisfies.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • bestmanRomance: “The Best Man,” by Kristan Higgins, reviewed by Eloisa James – “The novel offers a classic humiliation, brilliantly handled. Faith Holland is standing at the altar looking like Cinderella, about to marry her faithful, handsome fiance — when he comes out of the closet. Guess who prompted that painful revelation? His best man.”  NPR … The path to love is bumpy and strewn with landmines in this surprisingly deep charmer from rom-com queen Higgins. Emotional resonance balances zany antics in a powerful story that feels completely real. – Publishers Weekly
  • eyeofgodAdventure: “The Eye of God,” by James Rollins, reviewed by Alan Cheuse – “A comet threatening to destroy our planet with lethal debris, dark matter, a prophecy of the destruction of the world as we know it going back to the time of Genghis Khan, plus — what else? — theories of time spun wildly out of the latest astrophysical research, a raid by U.S. special forces (Rollins calls this unit he’s invented the “Sigma Force”) on a North Korean prison, a quest for interplanetary debris in the Mongolian desert, and a final battle on (and in) the ice of Russia’s Lake Baikal.”  NPR
  • visitationMystery: “Visitation Street,” by Ivy Pochoda, reviewed by Samuel R. Slaton – “This summer, I’ll be pounding the pavement of my new neck of the woods—Red Hook, Brooklyn—with Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street. What better way to get to know the neighborhood and usher in the summer than to unravel a mystery set just beyond your own stoop?” Publishers Weekly … It was a dumb idea, the type of brainstorm that hits bored teenagers. Impulsive fifteen-year-old Val convinces herself and then her best friend June to jump on a raft and float away on New York’s East River into the bay. What happens next, all too predictably, is tragedy. Only Val herself survives, but that, in Ivy Pochada’s engulfing new novel, is only the beginning. A powerful, well-written novel that balance vivid psychological and subtly building suspense. – Barnes & Noble
  • fortninetowersMemoir: “A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story,” by Qais Akbar Omar. reviewed by Jeanette Winterson – “If you read only one book this summer, make it this one. It’s an astonishing tale of religious barbarians and human hope, of what happened to Kabul before and after the Taliban came to power. A boy and his father survive being bitten nearly to death, not by a rabid dog but by a torturer.” Oprah’s Book Club … Mind-boggling yet matter-of-fact, A Fort of Nine Towers is the memoir of a childhood in ’90s Afghanistan—a riveting story of war as seen through a child’s eyes and summoned from an adult’s memory. – The New York Times
  • worldattheendFantasy/Adventure: “The World at the End,” by Ofir Touché Gafla, translated by Mitch Ginsburg – “The first appearance in English translation for Gafla’s first novel (2004), and it’s a weird and effective blend of adventure/fantasy, whodunit and romance…Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, handled with sublime assurance, astonishingly inventive, funny and totally fascinating.” Kirkus Reviews … The infrastructure of the Other World alone is enough to justify picking this book up, and the cast of characters, Ben’s heartening but occasionally frustrating confidence, and a story concluded in an open-ended but ultimately satisfying manner make the reading experience a pleasure. — Booklist
  • ridingcampComing of Age/Historical: “The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls,” by Anton Disclafani” by Anton Disclafani, reviewed by Dawn Raffel – “This debut page-turner, set in an equestrienne boarding school for debutantes during the Depression, is poised to become a bestseller (and advance copies keep disappearing from our office). Love, scandal, secrets, horses, American history—what more could you want? ” Readers Digest … The setup for this debut novel is delectable: it’s 1930, the country is tumbling into depression, and 15-year-old Thea has done something bad enough to get her sent from Florida to an elite year-round “camp” in North Carolina where, at least at first, the effects of the economy are kept at bay while affluent Southern girls become “ladies.” – Publishers Weekly
  • silentwifeThriller: “The Silent Wife,” by A. S. A. Harrison, reviewed by Emma G Keller – “The publishers want you to think of this book as the new Gone Girl, and, yes, it is the tale of the end of a marriage told from alternating perspectives ‘Him’ and ‘Her’. But in the devastating portrait of a couple who both love and hate each other, A. S. A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife ends up having more in common with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” The Guardian … Harrison has spun a masterfully suspenseful tale in which the main plot point is given away from the beginning – no easy feat. It’s a story of the end of a marriage, the end of love and how long buried secrets can cast a long shadow. – The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the Vietnam-era contemporary fantasy, “The Sailor.”

In multiple formats at Smashwords

In multiple formats at Smashwords

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