Thursday, May 24, 2012

Starting the Summer Reading Season

Memorial Day weekend has its somber moments, as we commemorate family members by decorating their graves, but it is largely thought of as the beginning of summer.  As a pre-teen and teen, this meant that I spent a lot of time in the back yard sitting under a mulberry tree reading, with an apple in hand.  This was before air-conditioning was everywhere, but I don't remember feeling ridiculously hot.

I came by this passtime honestly.  With a bunch of small children, my mother had little time to sit.  Her treat was to make a tomato sandwich, pour a glass of iced tea and sit on the back porch with a book.  I feel sorry for people who grew up without books for fun, and sorry for young people today who spend hours with video games.  I'm told there are creative games, but the ones I've seen played don't require any imagination, just the ability to ruin your thumb joints.

But, I digress.  (I always wanted to write that.)  My summer reading plate is full.  I'll include a lot of mysteries, as you might guess from what I like to write.  Margaret Maron has a Deborah Knott book I've not read (Three Day Town), and I haven't gotten into the latests of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series (Explosive Eighteen) or Sue Grafton's latest Kinsey Milhone books (V is for Vengeance). I save my favorite books for treats.  I can read these when I finish the fourth Jolie Gentil mystery.

More than the books of these major authors I am reading some of the hundreds of mysteries that are published each month, some put out by smaller publishers, some by indie authors like me.  I like the Magnolia mysteries by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter.  They are set in North Carolina's coastal country and feature historical preservationist Ashley Wilkes (really).  Ms. Hunter has been publishing these since 2007, and is on book ten.  She has Margaret Maron's talent for depicting the south so that you learn about its history with the current mystery.  Other readers agree.  She regularly has a book in the top 100 for Kindle mysteries.  Murder on the Ghost Walk is the first in the series and I"m working my way through them.

The Lucy Guardino series features an FBI agent who balances a reasonable family life with some pretty intense FBI work.  You rarely see police procedural mysteries that paint home and work life well.  Often family members are more caricatures than characters. I've only read Snake Skin, the first in the series, and plan to read the second soon.  I would not have picked up the series if one of my book clubs had not chosen it, and I'm glad they did.

Edie Claire  wrote the Leigh Koslow cozy mystery series over many years -- so long ago that they were available only in actual paper from Penguin Books.  She has reissued them herself as ebooks, and added a new one that is set a decade after the last one, and Leigh has aged with the passing of time and acquired a set of twins.  I have not read Never Con a Corgi, the new one, and look forward to it.  The first book, Never Buried, is usually 99 cents on Kindle, a good way to start the series.  The books use animal characters well, something I strive to do.

Happy summer reading.  Feel free to share your favorites.

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