I am so excited by all the wonderful August fiction releases. I think you will be, too. There are so many great novels coming this month. There is certainly something for everyone.
I am going to feature 10 books this month, along with 3 honorable mentions. I’ll also urge you to pick up some late July releases and tell you about a wonderful book now out in paperback. So let’s get started!
The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman comes out July 31. I have read this novel and I plan on reviewing the story tomorrow. This is a brilliant, emotional debut. Set primarily on a lighthouse, the author makes you ponder what is right and how sometimes people choose to bend the rules. From the ARC’s backcover:
“In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Three years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel is tending the grave of her newly lost infant when she hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the dead man and the infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim the child as their own and name her Lucy, but a rift begins to grow between them. When Lucy is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world…and one of them is desperate to find her lost baby.”
If you only have time to read one book this month, I strongly suggest you pick The Light between Oceans. It’s THAT good!
Margaret Dilloway, the author of How to be an American Housewife, returns August 2 with her new book The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. Here is what Goodreads says:
“Thirty-six-year-old Gal Garner lives a regimented life. Her job teaching biology and her struggle with kidney disease keep her toggling between the high school, the hospital, and her home on a strict schedule.
Only at home, in her garden, does Gal come alive. It’s here that she experiments with Hulthemia roses, painstakingly cross-pollinating various specimens in the hopes of creating a brand-new variation of spectacular beauty. But even her passion has a highly structured goal: Gal wants to win Queen of Show in a major competition and bring that rose to market. Then one afternoon Gal’s teenaged niece Riley, the daughter of her estranged sister, arrives. Unannounced. Neither one of them will ever be the same. Filled with gorgeous details of the art of rose breeding, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a testament to the redemptive power of love.”
Sounds like if you enjoyed Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers you should definitely put this on your TBR list.
Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars comes out August 7. I am reading this now. This is a post-apocalyptic type of story. So you can expect it to be gloomy and depressing, and it really is! But Heller tells the story in a unique way. Very effective and affecting story. I predict this will be very big. It was a featured title at BEA, and it’s easy to see why. But it’s not for the faint of heart. Dog lovers should also take heed. I’ve already cried twice so far and I just started book 2.
Another book scheduled for an August 7 release is In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. The publisher has this to say about the novel:
“For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.”
Sounds somewhat reminiscent of Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife. Will it take the world by storm like that novel did? We’ll see.
Grand Central Publishing will release Sandi Tan’s The Black Isle on August 7. It is set in Shanghai. Goodreads says:
“Taking readers from the 1920s, through the Japanese occupation during WWII, to the island’s radical transformation into a bustling cosmopolitan city, THE BLACK ISLE is a sweeping epic–a deeply imagined, fiercely original tale from a vibrant new voice in fiction.” Ooh, sounds like another home run for Grand Central.
Adam Braver’s Misfit is slated for an August 14 release. It will be a paperback original from Tin House Books. Braver is brave to take on Marilyn Monroe in this fictional account of the last weekend of her life. About the many faces of Marilyn, the story is the best of the many books coming out next month to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the actress’s death.
The publisher says, “One morning in Los Angeles, Nate Overbay—a divorced former solider suffering from PTSD and slowly dying from ALS — goes to an eleventh-floor bank, climbs out of the bathroom window onto the ledge, and gets ready to end it all. But as he’s steeling himself, a crew of robbers bursts into the bank and begins to viciously shoot employees and customers. With nothing to lose, Nate confronts the robbers, taking them out one-by-one. The last man standing leaves Nate with a cryptic warning. Nate soon learns what that message meant. He is kidnapped by Pavlo, a savage Russian mobster and mastermind of the failed heist. Unable to break back into the bank to get the critical item inside, Pavlo gives Nate an ultimatum—break in and get what he needs or watch Pavlo slowly kill the one thing Nate loves most—his ex-wife Janie and his teenaged daughter Cielle—both lost when he came back from Iraq broken and confused. Now he’s got one last chance to protect the people he loves, even if it’s the last thing he is able to do.”
Nothing like a thriller for summer.
Also on August 21 The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo comes out. Santo has been compared to Sarah Blake (The Postmistress) and Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees). The story is set in a house on an olive grove in Northern California and brings five generations of women to life. Santo has been hailed as “an extraordinary new voice in contemporary women’s fiction.”
From Goodreads: “Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise
Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He’s been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear.
Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, the woman who works with Max in the Learning Center and who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy.
When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable and kidnaps Max, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save him—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or Budo’s very existence.
Narrated by Budo, a character with a unique ability to have a foot in many worlds—imaginary, real, child, and adult— Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming . . . and heartbreaking conclusion.”
Last, but definitely not least, The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, author of The Gift of Rain, rounds out the Top 10 Books for August. It comes out August 28.
From Goodreads: “It’s Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambridge and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice ‘until the monsoon comes’. Then she can design a garden for herself.
As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day. But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery.
Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling’s friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of ‘Yamashita’s Gold’ and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?”
The Garden of Evening Mists was recently longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
These August titles are definitely worth a look.
There are two July books I urge you not to forget about. They are extraordinary novels both.
Rachel Joyce’s novel was recently longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. It is truly an inspirational, life-changing story. I am currently listening to Lydia Netzer’s novel on audio. Author Joshilyn Jackson narrates the book. It is a big change for me to listen to a book! But I am enjoying it.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield came out in paperback on July 10. Wingfield made me laugh and cry. She also compelled me to feel such emotions as jubilation, anger, sorrow, love and hate. To see why, well, you just have to read the book!
Whew! August will be a busy month. Get reading!