For the first time in almost two years since I’ve been running these lists, I don’t have a recommendation. I read eight July releases but none was special enough for me to include here. Picture me sprawled across the sofa with my head thrown back and one arm flung toward the floor, groaning.
Luckily, my contributors had a better time and came through with the following recommendations for you. This month, I’m excited to welcome a new blogger, Erin Mitchell. Erin is a voracious reader who’s well known to almost everyone within the crime-fiction community. Full disclosure: She also runs a firm called HEW PR and some of her clients are authors, but her contributions to this list will reflect her personal tastes and be separate from work. In other words, she won’t just be pushing her clients’ books here. You can always check who her clients are on her site.
Now, on with the program.
From Jen of Jen’s Book Thoughts:
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Atria, July 15)
It seems more than great crime novels are coming out of the Scandinavian countries these days. Fredrik Backman’s debut work is a charming love story wrapped up in a curmudgeonly old man called Ove. He values order and routine. He’s a proud Swede and only drives a Saab. He loves his work and worships his wife. So when Ove’s wife, Sonja, succumbs to cancer and he’s downsized from his job, he sees no reason to continue living. He carefully plans his exit from the world, only the world has other plans for him.
Backman has created a colorful cast to populate his universal tale of relevance. From a very pregnant Middle Eastern woman with a ridiculously clumsy husband to a stray cat with missing patches of fur, they are authentic and engaging. Delightfully funny, soul-touchingly beautiful, and exquisitely written, A Man Called Ove is a heartwarming reminder of the importance of community and the strength of love.
From Rory at Fourth Street Review:
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (Viking Adult, July 15)
In the wrap-up to the All Souls Trilogy, Deborah Harkness gives us the thrilling The Book of Life. After returning to present day at the end of Shadow of Night, Diana and Matthew struggle to understand her pregnancy—her, through the missing pages of Ashmole 782, and Matthew, through research. The star-crossed pair face a variety of threats, from both family and rivals trying to keep them apart as they continue their search for answers.
This is a fabulous ending to a wonderful trilogy. While A Discovery of Witches will always remain my favorite, this is a worthy conclusion to a trilogy that seems to effortlessly weave magic, history, science, geography, and romance. [Ed. note: I’ll have a giveaway of this book in the next week or so.]
From Florinda of The 3 R’s Blog:
Arts & Entertainments: A Novel by Christopher Beha (Ecco Press, July 1)When failed actor turned private-school drama teacher Eddie Hartley sells a sex video he made with his ex-girlfriend, TV and tabloid superstar Martha Martin, to an Internet entrepreneur, he’s not thinking about any consequences other than funding his and and his wife’s efforts to have a baby. He certainly never imagines his action would lead to a high-risk pregnancy played out on social media and reality TV, or that his role of a lifetime will be an edited-for-broadcast version of himself.Arts and Entertainments is both artful and entertaining, and it’s also a thoughtful examination of how we shape our own stories. Beha’s observations of crafted, carefully produced versions of private lives becoming public property resonate in a time when it sometimes feels like a life unexamined by other people isn’t a life worth living.
From Erin at In Real Life:
The Competition by Marcia Clark (Little, Brown; July 8)
L.A. Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight and LAPD detective Bailey Keller’s fourth outing starts with a bang…or rather, a bunch of them, each a shot from a student’s gun. (Important note: The first couple of scenes are extremely graphic. In a world where we, sadly, have become accustomed to school shootings, the violence in these scenes still jumps off the page.) Rachel and Bailey quickly learn that nothing about this shooting is what it seems, and they follow clue after clue down a tortuous road, with each development threatening their safety and, often, their sanity.
Like her previous three novels featuring Rachel and Bailey, Marcia Clark tells a character-driven story, and with this one, she has truly found her stride. Rachel and Bailey—and those around them—seem more mature, and Clark’s storytelling has the feel of someone who’s been doing this for a long time. Of course, considering that in her former career she also told stories—albeit to juries rather than readers—she has. If you like your stories smart, shocking, and thought-provoking, you’ll enjoy The Competition.
I love the diversity in this list and hope at least one of the books piques your interest. Which releases are you looking forward to this month? (View past Nerdy Special Lists here.)
Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!