Sizzlin' Hot July

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
The next book in the apparent series of the Shanghai Girls is mostly about Pearl’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Joy. When Joy discovers some unsavory family secrets (why is it always family secrets?) she decides to runs away to Shanghai. It’s early 1957 and the New Society of Red China is about the last place I’d want to be, but Joy is an idealistic college student. She finds her birth father, artist Z.G. Li, who still lives in Shanghai but never knew he had a daughter.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
O.K. I’ll admit it, I thought this would be a pretty dumb book, but four-year old Colton made a believer out of me. Colton has emergency surgery, they almost lose him but he survives and begins talking about heaven and all the people and things he saw – like his miscarried sister, whom he had no knowledge of, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He describes the horse that only Jesus gets to ride, his purple sash and the power that "shoots down" from heaven to help us out. Fingers crossed it’s all true.

Killer Stuff and Tons of Money:
Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America
by Maureen Stanton
I actually collect old vintage junk, with an occasional nice little bona fide antique thrown in, but I wasn’t sure I could handle a BOOK about it! But Stanton conveys the story so honestly and simply that you find yourself immersed in travels; and yearning to learn more about the history of some strange object. I now know about six-board blanket chests and people who actually collect human body parts. One thing that’s for certain – Avery (the main ‘character’) is ‘fresh’ and 100% real, which makes us root for him as he continues to search out that one perfect hidden gem that he can parlay into a cool million. Part story, part history, part philosophy.
Indulge a lengthy quote:
“But when I see the lamp on my kitchen table, I have that feeling that Avery and other collectors and dealers have, a blush of warmth, pride, and even something that feels like-I'm slightly embarrassed to admit-affection. Since I bought the lamp, I've grown to love it more. If my house were on fire, I'd take the things I cherish most, family photos, drawings by my nieces and nephews, original paintings by my sister, Sally, an artist, and now the lamp. I'm convinced that I'll own the lamp until I die, after which I hope someone else will love it, too, and then pass it forward, this beautiful antique handmade thing that brings a glow to my kitchen, and my spirits." ♥♥♥

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
A Minnesota pharmaceutical company is working on a strange and powerful new drug in the heart of the Amazon. The problem is, Dr. Annick Swenson won’t share any research with the parent company and the last person they sent to find her has mysteriously disappeared. Beautiful, young research scientist Dr. Marina Singh travels to the Dark Continent to find out what is really going on – and boy does she -- complete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and cannibals. May I say this is not Patchett’s best effort, but still, a nice little summer read. ♥♥

The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
Inspired by her late father-in-law, Mason writes a great little historical fiction novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe. Decades later and newly widowed, Marshall Stone returns to his crash site and looks for the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis. One person in particular -- the girl in the blue beret, is someone he’ll never forget.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Emily Wilson had a bestselling novel and a GQ husband but that was before. NOW she can’t write a sentence let alone a book, is divorced and camping out with her great-aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. She settles into the ancient house and discovers a sixty year old red velvet diary in her night table. Will it open old wounds or is it a ticket to a bright future? Not a great book -- unless you are on a beach with nothing else to do.

To Be Sung Under Water by Tom McNeal
One of my favorite book lines EVER – Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that:  "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Willy Blunt and Judith Whitman’s love story is a beautiful thing and one that stands the test of time. Just not with each other, and that might be the saddest thing. Make time for the best epic love story of the summer! ♥♥♥