La Rue: 'By Invitation Only' and other good beach reads
BOOK REPORT

La Rue: 'By Invitation Only' and other good beach reads

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Memorial Day festivities are over, so now we turn our thoughts to the upcoming summer season. That means, for many of us, a time to get some sun, relax and read a good book (or two or three).

Dorothea Benton Frank’s latest novel, “By Invitation Only,” fits the bill of a traditional beach read. Single mom Diane’s son is getting married to a young woman from an uber-rich Chicago family. Diane’s family owns a small peach farm in South Carolina. While cultures collide, we get fireworks and a wonderful read filled with tasty food scenes that will make you drool.

Eloisa James is an immensely popular historical romance writer, and her latest is the second in her fun new Wildes of Lindow Castle series. “Too Wilde to Wed” focuses on North Wilde, heir to the family dukedom, who when we last left him had been jilted by his fiancee. It’s two years later and North returns home from war to find his former fiancee working as a governess at the castle. Can he win her back? This one is sure to be a steamy read.

If you enjoyed the Broadway show “Wicked” or TV’s “Once Upon a Time,” Danielle Teller’s “All The Ever Afters” is a great read for you. We see Cinderella from the point of view of Agnes, her stepmother, who had a very difficult life before she married Cinderella’s father. It’s a unique look at the Cinderella story.

If your tastes run to literary fiction, Sarah Jessica Parker has a new imprint at Hogarth, and her first novel is Fatima Farheen Mizra’s “A Place For Us,” the story of a Muslim American family who come together for a family wedding. The family members deal with tradition, faith, loyalty, love, betrayal — all things that bind us together. Mirza is getting rave reviews for her first novel.

For mystery fans, Lisa Scottoline’s “After Anna” begins with a well-respected doctor on trial for the murder of his adult stepdaughter, a young woman who recently joined the family. It’s a real whodunnit.

Fans of Patricia Highsmith will want to try Christine Mangan’s “Tangerine.” Set in 1956 Tangiers, we meet Alice Shipley, who has moved there with her husband from England. Alice is not happy there, preferring to stay cooped up in their apartment while her husband is out and about. When her old college friend Lucy shows up out of the blue, we discover that years earlier, a man Alice dated ended up dead and the women haven’t seen each other since. What does Lucy want now? The setting here plays a key role, and you’ll find yourself sweating from the heat of Tangiers.

There are some terrific books out there for people who prefer true stories. Tara Westover’s “Educated” shares her story of growing up in a poor Utah family of seven children who did not attend school, but rather worked with their father scrapping metals, a dangerous thing for young children to do. How Tara and some of her siblings ended up going to college and getting Ph.D.’s is astounding, and a tribute to the human spirit. I could not put this one down.

Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone In the Dark” recounts her search for California’s Golden State Killer, who murdered 12 people and raped over 50 women in the 1970s. McNamara unexpectedly passed away in her sleep, and her husband and researchers finished the book. The amazing end to the story is that the man was finally caught last month, using a DNA match through an internet genealogical website.

If you like reading about siblings, “The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters” by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger tells the story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill. They had a close relationship, studded with jealousy and competition. Radziwill gave extensive interviews for this book, so the reader gets an intimate look at them from her point of view.

Allison Pataki is best known for her historical fiction, but “Beauty in the Broken Places” is about how her life was upended when her 30-year-old doctor husband had a stroke on an airplane while they were on their way to Hawaii, and she was five months pregnant. Her faith, family and friends, along with her own strength, helped them through.

And finally, for a good laugh, David Sedaris is back with “Calypso,” about his vacation home and the hilarity and insanity that happened there when he invites family to visit.

Diane La Rue is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and blogs about books at http://bookchickdi.blogspot.com. You can follow her on Twitter @bookchickdi, and she can be emailed at laruediane2000@yahoo.com.

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