Featured favorites: Beach reads
Martha's Vineyard Times File Photo
Recommended by Bunch of Grapes
"Crashed" by Timothy Hallinan – After 21 years as a highly successful burglar, Junior Bender is blackmailed by a L.A. gangster to investigate the sabotage of his highly lucrative porn movie. When Bender finds himself doing the right thing, but ending up on the wrong side of the boss, he must find a miracle solution. This detective potboiler with its oddball characters will keep you chuckling.
"Jewelweed" by David Rhodes – When Blake Bookchester returns to his Wisconsin home after being in prison he faces the question of which way he wants his life to go. He integrates into his small town of vibrantly described characters, including his truck-driving father, his own son, and the pastor. Just as the jewelweed relieves a rash from poison ivy, which it often grows next to, the decent hardworking people of the town help Blake find his way.
"The Engagements" by J. Courtney Sullivan – Mary Frances Gerety, a never-married career woman, came up with the advertising slogan "Diamonds Are Forever," propelling the engagement ring into the "must have" ritual of modern life. Sullivan, author of "Maine," takes the reader on a ride through marriages that have worked, failed, or never happened. Several of the diamond rings travel by accident into these lives as they get lost, sold, or stolen.
"Little Green" by Walter Mosley – Easy Rawlins is back! He awakens from a coma to a new world of 1967 flower children on Sunset strip. With the help of Mama Jo's home brew, he heads off in pursuit of a missing boy. Reader of Mosley will welcome Rawlins's return as he cruises through the rich lives of his characters in the mostly black community of L.A.
"The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D." by Nichole Bernier – Elizabeth dies in a plane crash. Her friend Kate receives her journals, which have been willed to her. Kate and her family are spending the summer at a New England beach (sounds very much like the Vineyard). Reading the journals from the beginning, Kate realizes that one doesn't always know the secrets of best friends. With her discoveries about Elizabeth, she also begins to make some amazing discoveries about herself.
Recommended by Edgartown Books
"Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen – Hiassen is back with another hilarious mystery set in sunny Florida, aka "the floating-human-body-parts capital of America." Ex-detective Andrew Yancy wants to get his job back, and believes solving the crime that led to a tourist reeling in a severed human arm while fishing is just what he needs.
"Beautiful Day" by Elin Hilderbrand – The Carmichaels and the Grahams are gathered on Nantucket for a summer wedding, which should be a cause for celebration. Although the couple-to-be are quite happy, the occasion is less than perfect for the love lives of their friends and family. In the days leading up to the wedding, love is questioned, scandals arise, and hearts are broken and healed.
"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan – When Rachel Chu envisions spending the summer with her boyfriend's family in his native Singapore, she envisions a humble Chinese family and home. What she doesn't realize until she arrives is that Nicholas Young is the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia and his super-rich family is less than thrilled about his American-born Chinese girlfriend. Outrageously funny, Kevin Kwan's debut novel is sure to be one of the top reads of the summer.
"Revenge Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger – A decade has gone by since Andy Sachs quit the coveted (and horrible) job of working for Miranda Priestly of Runway magazine and now she is running a successful high-end bridal magazine. Engaged to Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, Andy is on top of the world, until she receives a letter the morning of her wedding that threatens to unravel everything. Andy thought she had escaped the devil, but she realizes that nothing is as it seems.
"Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" by David Sedaris – The newest collection of humorous personal essays by the one and only Sedaris. With his trademark wit and close attention to random detail, he recalls his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), "saving" a group of baby loggerhead turtles, and the time he considered buying the skull of a murdered Pygmy.
Recommended by Book Den East
"Jaws" by Peter Benchley (1974) – A really must-read for Vineyard beachgoers (even if you've seen the movie). Just relax, enjoy, and stay on the beach... ($35)
"Summer Sisters" by Judy Blume (1998) – Set in part on the Vineyard, this book recounts the tale of two women in a complicated and dangerous friendship, spiced by love and betrayal. This copy is signed by the author. ($20)
"The Hundred Days" by Patrick O'Brian (1998) is one of the series featuring British naval commander Jack Aubrey and his constant attending physician Dr. Stephen Maturin. Here they take on Napoleon who has escaped from Elba. With the fate of Europe in the balance, who will prevail? Oh, you already guessed... ($15)
"Lost Laysen" by Margaret Mitchell (1996) The long lost novelette by the Pulitzer-winning author of "Gone With the Wind." A tale of love and honor on a doomed South Pacific island. Included is much fascinating biographical material on Mitchell and her beau, Henry Love Angel. ($20)
"The Shining Tides" by Win Brooks (1952) is as alive and lively today as it was some 60 years ago. The human protagonists are still interesting but contrapuntal to the point of view of Roccus, the great striped bass. ($15)