Summer Escapes: Roll Out the Beach Towel with Some Genre Fiction

Vacation season is approaching, and readers will be contemplating their book lists as carefully as they plan their holidays. To help them find that perfect literary escape, LJ turned to genre fiction columnists and genre experts. Here are their picks for what they anticipate to be hot summer reads.
Vacation season is approaching, and readers will be contemplating their book lists as carefully as they plan their holidays. To help them find that perfect literary escape, LJ turned to genre fiction columnists Christine Sharbrough (Christian fiction), Lesa Holstine and Ann ­Chambers Theis (mystery), Megan M. McArdle and Kristi Chadwick (sf & fantasy) as well as LJ reviewers and genre experts Mara Bandy (historical fiction), Bette-Lee Fox (romance), Jeff Ayers (thrillers), and Erin Holt (women’s fiction). Below are their picks for what they anticipate to be hot summer reads.—Wilda Williams


Chiavaroli, Heidi. Freedom’s Ring. Tyndale House. Aug. 2017. 425p. ISBN 9781496423122. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781496423139. CF

After Liberty Caldwell’s brother is killed at the 1770 Boston Massacre, all that remains of her protector, Alexander, is his ring. In 2015, Annie David survives the Boston Marathon bombing and the only detail she recalls is the antique ring on the hand of her first responder. First novelist Chiavaroli’s historical tapestry will provide a satisfying summer read for fans of Kristy Cambron and Lisa Wingate.

Clipston, Amy. The Beloved Hope Chest. Zondervan. (Amish Heirloom, Bk. 4). May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780310341970. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310000952. CF

In this final series installment (after The Forgotten ­Recipe; The Courtship Basket; The ­Cherished Quilt), the Fisher sisters delve into the family hope chest and uncover more details about their mother, Mattie, and the shocking secret she’s been keeping for years.

Johnson, Todd M. Fatal Trust. Bethany House. Aug. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780764230448. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780764212352. $15.99. CF

For young Minnesota attorney Ian Wells, keeping his deceased father’s law firm afloat while contending with his mother’s deteriorating health pushes him to the brink. When a new client promises him $200,000 for a week’s worth of work, he jumps at the chance. Big mistake. Thanks to its engaging characters and dizzyingly twisty plot, this legal thriller makes the perfect vacation getaway for John Grisham and Robert Whitlow aficionados.

Orchard, Sandra. Over Maya Dead Body. Revell. (Serena Jones, Bk. 3). Jul. 2017. 353p. ISBN 9780800728892. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780800726706. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781493407231. CF

FBI Agent Serena Jones (Another Day Another Dali) has barely arrived on Martha’s Vineyard for a little R&R when her uncle is murdered. Suspecting his death to be linked to an antiquities smuggling ring, she investigates. Orchard’s diverting title takes mystery lovers on an engrossing, fast-paced journey.

White, Roseanna. A Name Unknown. Bethany House. (Shadows over England, Bk. 1). Jul. 2017. 434p. ISBN 9780764230417. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780764219269. $15.99. CF

In Edwardian England, loyalty to the Crown is of utmost importance; anyone with a German name is suspect. Rosemary Gresham, a professional thief for hire, is asked to investigate wealthy Peter Holstein’s background. She discovers the real Peter may not be the man she believed him to be. Fans of Roseanna M. White seeking a summer historical romance will be delighted.


Boling, Dave. The Lost History of Stars. Algonquin. Jun. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781616204174. $25. 95; ebk. ISBN 9781616207144. F

Journalist Boling (Guernica; The Undesirables) tells the harrowing story of 14-year-old Lettie, who is imprisoned with her Dutch Afrikaner family in a brutal British concentration camp during South Africa’s Boer War. Boling’s personal connection to this story of wartime suffering and perseverance (Boling is the grandson of a Boer War veteran) contributes to this powerful read about a period not often covered in historical fiction. (LJ 4/1/17)

Hartsuyker, Linnea. The Half-Drowned King. Harper. Aug. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780062563699. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062563712. F

Inspired by the Icelandic sagas, this action-packed first volume in a planned trilogy will transport readers to Viking Norway, where Ragnvald battles his treacherous stepfather in order to claim his true birthright after his father’s death. Meanwhile, Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild seeks a marriage that will give her the freedom she craves despite the era’s restrictive social roles for women. An adventurous summer read, in which vivid historical detail meets a fast-moving plot. (LJ 4/1/17)

Kadish, Rachel. The Weight of Ink. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2017. 592p. ISBN 9780544866461. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544866676. F

Inviting comparisons to A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Kadish’s third novel (after Tolstoy Lied) features two modern scholars investigating a literary historical mystery centered on a female Jewish scribe in 17th-century London. Immersive period detail about Jewish life in 1660s London combines with a riveting plot that touches on the pressures women have faced throughout time, balancing intellectual pursuits with devotion to family. (LJ 4/15/17)

Pataki, Allison & Owen Pataki. Where The Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution. Dial. Jul. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780399591686. $28. F

In her previous novels, Pataki (The Traitor’s Wife; The Accidental Empress) combined an entertaining story with rich historical detail. For this collaboration with her brother Owen, the setting is revolutionary Paris three years after the storming of the Bastille, where a host of characters struggle to survive within a rapidly changing social order. (LJ 5/1/17)

Quinn, Kate. The Alice Network. Morrow Jun. 2017. 528p. ISBN 9780062654199. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062654205. F

Those looking for intrigue and danger in their summer fiction may be drawn to Quinn’s (Mistress of Rome) latest, already generating positive early buzz. Featuring a time line split between a woman desperately seeking her cousin in 1947 postwar France and the doings of the “Alice Network” of female spies during World War I, this fast-paced story offers courageous heroines, villains you love to hate, and dramatic life-or-death stakes. (A June LibraryReads Pick)


Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Scarred Woman. Dutton. Sept. 2017. 432p. ISBN 9780525954958. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698409781. M

The seventh book in the best-selling “Department Q” series finds Copen­hagen Det. Carl Mørck contending with an unsolved murder case, the troubled past of a member of his team, and the possible end of his department. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/17.]

Horowitz, Anthony. Magpie Murders. HarperCollins. J un. 2017. 496p. ISBN 9780062645227. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062645241. M

Agatha Christie fans will line up for this salute to Golden Age whodunits from Horowitz (“Alex Rider” series). When editor Susan Ryeland receives best-selling mystery author Alan Conway’s new manuscript, she is annoyed to discover the final chapter is missing and that Conway has committed suicide. Susan begins to suspect that the irascible Conway’s book hides murderous secrets related to his death. (LJ 4/1/17)

Lepionka, Kristen. The Last Place You Look. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781250120519. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538430415. M

Lepionka’s assured debut introduces persistent and problematic PI Roxane Weary, who walks the mean streets of Columbus, OH, fueled by sugar, alcohol, bad relationships, and the love of her dysfunctional family. Weary reluctantly takes on the closed case of a death row inmate and discovers connections to other cold cases, including one investigated by her late cop father. A swift-moving, gritty mystery that will keep readers glued to their beach towels. ( LJ 5/1/17)

Penny, Louise. Glass Houses. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781250066190, $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466873681. M

Penny’s 13th entry in her award-winning “Chief Inspector Gamache” series will take readers back to the village of Three Pines, where Armand Gamache knows something is seriously wrong when a mysterious figure appears and a body is later discovered. An arrest and subsequent murder trial leaves Gamache struggling with his own conscience. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/17.]

Quinn, Spencer. The Right Side. Atria. Jun. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501118401. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501118425. M

Quinn departs from his popular “Chet and Bernie” mysteries with this stand-alone about a severely wounded female veteran suffering from PTSD who teams up with a stray dog to find the missing daughter of her deceased hospital roommate. Compelling characters and a suspenseful race to the finish will keep readers riveted. (LJ 4/1/17)


Brockmann, Suzanne. Some Kind of Hero. Ballantine. (Troubleshooters, Bk. 19). Jul. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780345543820. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780345543837. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Landing her Navy SEALS stateside, Brockmann has made this latest “Trouble­shooters” title (since Do or Die) as funny as it is scary and nerve-wracking for her characters and the reader. Parenting issues conflict with duty and grief, while a romance writer gets to save the day. A disgraceful episode in America’s past finds itself in the spotlight.

Burrowes, Grace. Too Scot To Handle. Forever: Grand Central. (Windham Brides, Bk. 2). Jul. 2017. 346p. ISBN 9781455569991. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455569984. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

The Windhams have been popular with readers since Burrowes released The Heir (2010). This offshoot featuring the nieces to the Duke and Duchess of Moreland gives fans even more time with these fascinating folks, especially the younger men. Here, Anwen Windham is devoted to her orphanage and finds assistance from a Scottish lord both helpful and distracting.

Goodman, Jo. A Touch of Frost. Berkley Sensation. Jun. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9780399584275. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399584282. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Goodman allows her heroine to do a lot of the reconnaissance after a train robbery that leaves our hero, ­Remington Frost, unconscious on the floor. The American West is never as vivid or romantic as when Goodman heads down the trail.

Jeffries, Sabrina. The Pleasures of Passion. Pocket. (Sinful Suitors, Bk. 4). Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781501144462. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501144479. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Oh, young love. Our hero must leave England following a duel, the true reason for which he is unable to supply to his 17-year-old sweetheart. Time passes; situations change. Now, neither seems willing to accept that the truth is beyond their ken and that there is more to each of their stories. A fake engagement seems like a bad idea, but no one is listening.

MacLean, Sarah. The Day of the Duchess. Avon. (Scandal & Scoundrel, Bk. 3). Jul. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780062379436. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062379467. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Women in control are so attractive. The best-selling MacLean lets us in on the machinations behind divorce in England in 1836 as the Duke of Haven and his estranged wife duke it out over how to end their mostly off-again marriage. She’ll admit to anything to have it done; he doesn’t want to lose her. His way is pretty clever, if half-baked.

Quinn, Julia. The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband. Avon. (Rokesbys, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062388179. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062388186. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Quinn changes the playing field in this next prequel to her eight Bridgerton books. Moving across the pond, the story introduces the British troops encamped in New York during the American Revolution. Cecilia Harcourt braves the ocean crossing in search of her injured brother only to be mistaken for the wife of his best friend, who awakens from a head wound but can’t remember anything.


Cato, Beth. Call of Fire. Harper Voyager. (Blood of Earth, Vol. 2). Aug. 2017. ISBN 9780062422118. pap. $14.99; ebk. 978006242215. FANTASY

Fleeing a San Francisco devastated by the 1906 earthquake, geomancer Ingrid Carmichael heads north to learn more about her father, from whom she inherited her godlike powers. Cato’s sequel to Breath of Earth takes readers further into an alternate America with many of the same cultural and racial issues we still see in our universe.

Lee, Yoon Ha. Raven Stratagem. Solaris. (Machineries of Empire, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781781085370. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 9781786180469. SF

After evading an assassination attempt, legendary general Shuos Jedao (occupying the body that once belonged to Capt. Kel Charis) has seized a battle Swarm. While he is willing to fight the enemy Hafn, his larger plans seem to be nothing short of the destruction of the hexarchate. This follow up to the Nebula- and Hugo-nominated Ninefox Gambit combines exciting space opera action with dazzling, imaginative worldbuilding.

McGuire, Seanan. The Brightest Fell. DAW. (October Daye, Bk.11). Sept. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780756413316. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698183520. FANTASY

Life seems to be finally settling down for October “Toby” Daye—until her mother, Amandine, demands her help in finding Toby’s long-missing sister August. Unable to refuse, Toby must team up with one person she does not trust, Simon Torquill. Fans of McGuire’s (Every Heart a Doorway) emotional and exciting writing will relish the Fae Knight’s new adventure.

Percy, Benjamin . The Dark Net. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2017. 727p. ISBN 9780544750333. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780544750579. HORROR

The dark net is where people go online for things that satisfy their illicit desires. But what if something truly evil exists below the dark net? Standing in its way is a group of misfits in a near-future Portland, OR. Percy’s blend of cyberpunk-style sf and occult horror is a perfect combo for summer chills.

Snipes, Wesley & Ray Norman. Talon of God. HarperCollins. Jul. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780062668165. $27.99; ebk. 9780062668189. FANTASY

As a man of God, spirit warrior Talon Hunter strives to keep a balance against evil forces. Dr. Lauryn Jefferson is a skeptic, until a heinous drug infects her city and places her on the path to help Talon battle the forces trying to unleash Armageddon. Actor Snipes’s action-filled debut with ghostwriter ­Norman is sure to be as hot as the summer sun.


Coes, Ben. Trap the Devil. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781250043184. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841284. F

In the world of Special Ops fiction, Coes’s Dewey Andreas is not the flashiest hero, but he gets the job done. This time the conspiracy is tied to the federal government, and the odds of success are slim at best. With everything against Andreas, including his own bosses, it will be a blast to see how he saves the day again. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/17.]

Ellison, J.T. Lie to Me. Mira: Harlequin. Sept. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780778330950. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488025143. F

Ellison knows how to deliver gripping psychological suspense, and this tale of a marriage disintegrating appears to echo Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Sutton Montclair vanishes, and her husband, Ethan, deals with the aftermath. Is he a killer, or is something else going on entirely? Appearances can be deceiving, but Ellison’s writing is not. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/17.]

Gerritsen, Tess. I Know a Secret: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel. Ballantine. Aug. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780345543882. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345543899. F

In light of the cancellation of the TNT series Rizzoli & Isles after seven seasons, it’s exciting that Gerritsen will continue to write about these wonderful characters. Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles investigate a series of murders in which the killer is reenacting scenes from horror films. Be prepared for an exciting ride with unexpected twists and terrific writing. [See Prepub Alert, 1/20/17.]

Grisham, John. Camino Island. Knopf. Jun. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780385543026. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543057. F

A theft of priceless books from a library, a book dealer who dabbles in the black market of stolen manuscripts, and a novelist who is recruited for a daring mission all add up to what sounds like the ideal beach read.

Hanson, Hart. The Driver. Dutton. Aug. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781101986363. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101986387. F

The show runner for the Fox TV series Bones delivers his first thriller about a former U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant who runs a limo company (think The Bodyguard meets The Transporter). Toss in skateboarding and an intriguing potential romance and you have the makings of another popular series.

MatchUp. S.&S. Jun. 2017. 464p. ed. by Lee Child. ISBN 9781501141591. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501141614. F

The International Thriller Writers’s new short story anthology has top authors this time pairing their male and female series characters. Reading about our favorite protagonists should be entertaining, assuming they play well together. (LJ 5/1/17)


Esposito, Chloé. Mad. Dutton. (Mad, Bad, & Dangerous To Know, Bk. 1). Jun. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781101985991. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101986011. F

When plans for identical twins Beth and Alvie to swap places for one night go fatally awry, Alvie seizes the chance to assume her perfect sister’s life. Using Sicily as a backdrop with its gorgeous architecture, villas, and sexy men, Esposito pens an unforgettable summer debut headed by a no-holds-barred protagonist.

Gelman, Laurie. Class Mom. Holt. Aug. 2017. 302p. ISBN 9781250124692. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250124708. F

When Jen Dixon is asked by her best friend (also the PTA president) to be kindergarten class mom for the third time, she begrudgingly agrees. With her first email, full of snark, wit, and charm, Jen sets the stage for how things will be in Miss Ward’s class. Moms, trying to hold back tears of laughter, will relate. (LJ 5/1/17)

Sykes, Lucy & Jo Piazza. Fitness Junkie. Doubleday. Jul. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780385541800. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385541817. F

The duo who brought us The Knockoff now tackle the fitness world. Threatened with losing her job if she doesn’t shed 30 pounds, couture wedding dress company CEO Janey Sweet embarks on a hilarious weight-loss quest that involves Free the Nipple yoga, dumpster diving on a first date, and other shenanigans.

Woods, Eva. Something Like Happy. Graydon House: Harlequin. Sept. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781525811357. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488026072. F

At 35, Annie Hebden, still grieving a painful loss, is ready for a change when she meets the eccentric Polly. Determined to bring Annie out of her funk. Polly concocts a happiness mission: find 100 new ways to be happy over 100 days. Simply irresistible!

Zevin, Gabrielle. Young Jane Young. Algonquin. Aug. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781616205041. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616207724. F

The author of the beloved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry returns with what’s bound to be another ace in the hole. Congressional intern Aviva Grossman decides that having an affair with her boss, and then blogging about it, is a good idea. But then how does Aviva move forward when Google never forgets? Politics, sex, scandal, and it doesn’t stop there. [See Prepub Alert, 3/27/17.]

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Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

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