After a powerful solar storm destroys electrical devices and causes civilization to crumble, an Amish farming community in Pennsylvania helps by supplying food to a neighboring town. But as things deteriorate, the outside world encroaches on their isolated society.
While doing field research and trying to unlock a mystery from her childhood, anthropologist June Stefanov makes a startling discovery: For millennia automatons have lived among us, hiding their presence while trying to understand the nature of their own existence. But their time is drawing to an end and Stefanov may be a key, if unlikely, ally in their survival.
If the title reminds you of Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate, it’s with good reason. This satire explores love, loss, hookups and cross-generational relationships.
After divorcee Eve Fletcher’s son goes to college she is left trying to reinvent herself and give meaning to her life as an empty nester. She sets her hopes on a community college course on gender and society, but an unexpected text message sends her down a rabbit hole of online porn and thoughts of illicit relationships.
In 2013 former soldier Dimitri Bontinck’s 18-year-old son, Joe, fell under the sway of a radical Islamic mosque and traveled to Syria from Belgium to take part in that country’s civil war. Rescued from ISIS (St. Martin’s Press, digital galley) recounts his many harrowing trips into Syria to find and ultimately bring his son home.
Michael Connelly introduces a new detective in The Late Show (Little, Brown and Company, digital galley), a fast moving police procedural that is hard to put down. Renée Ballard works the LAPD overnight shift, responding to everything from burglaries to homicides. Because she has to hand off all of her cases at the end of her shift, she rarely gets to see anything through to completion.
In Karin Tidbeck’s dystopian fantasy Amatka (Knopf Doubleday, digital galley), words have the power to build, heal and destroy. Literally.
Here is a roundup of reviews for five summer of 2017 releases. All, but for The Windfall, are recommended.
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
By Jeffrey Kluger
In December 1968, less than two years after three astronauts burned to death in an Apollo capsule, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders left Earth to become the first humans to travel to the moon. Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon is packed with all of the drama inherent in all stories dealing with the early space program.
The mission was later overshadowed by the more dramatic moon landings, but Apollo 8 has an important place in history. The book is a concisely written account of that mission and the activities and training leading up to it. Author Jeffrey Kluger includes biographical information about all of the players involved, but the story focuses on Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.
At just 320 pages, the book moves at a rocket’s pace (see what I did there) and helps maintain Apollo 8’s place in history.
The Fold by Peter Clines ★★★★
A good sci-fi summer read that touches on teleportation and inter-dimensional travel.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk ★★★★★
Palahniuk’s 1999 debut holds up. I read it because it continues to be referenced in a variety of media.
Blindness by José Saramago ★★★★
A country is stricken by a plague of blindness in this parable, which is considered one of Saramago’s signature works. This is a book that will keep you thinking after you’ve finished it.
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier ★★★
The story of a magnetic Portuguese doctor living during the dictatorship of António Salazar. A lot of philosophy, which I enjoyed, but the narrative bogged down at points.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston ★★★★
A fascinating story of the search for a lost Honduran city, the politics of archaeology and the medical consequences of exploring in the tropics.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ★★★
I was disappointed in this story of a misunderstood, grumpy man with a hidden heart of gold, which felt derivative.
The Final Day by William R. Forstchen ★★★
If you read Forstchen’s first two books, read this one to see how it ends. If you haven’t, just read the first one, One Second After, to learn what might happen after an Electro Magnetic Pulse attack on the United States.
From the first quarter of 2017 I recommend Celine and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.