July & August Releases

Happy August. I hope the month doesn’t slip by too quickly as we have to make summer last as long as possible here in the North Country. It’s a grand time of year for being outside. As for book news, I was sorry to hear that the chief book critic of the New York Times Michiko Kakutani was leaving her job after 38 years. Oh I liked following her reviews; it seems she could make or break a book by whatever she wrote, and I often agreed with her favorites and was curious to see which books she was critical of. Now with her reign over, it’s an end of an era in a way, which is a bit too bad.

You might have noticed that I missed doing my July Preview post last month. It’s something I sort of like doing to keep me alert to the new releases that are coming out, but I was away then so I missed it. Still I’d like to go back now and highlight three novels that came out in July that I’m curious to read as well as three from August. Since it’s still summer, I’m keeping my reading picks not too heavy. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought.

Yes I’m game for Rachel Khong’s debut novel “Goodbye, Vitamin,” which various bloggers have liked and reviewed. Apparently it’s about a 30-year-old girl who’s recently broken up with her fiance and moves back to her parents’ home to help care for her father who has Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s a sad topic but apparently the author infuses her diary-type of narrative with quite a bit of humor, which makes its telling fresh. As Amazon’s Seira Wilson says: “Goodbye, Vitamin” is a generous and funny novel about love, family, and finding your way.” So count me in.

I must need humor these days because my next pick is also said to be funny. It’s Andrew Sean Greer’s novel “Less” — about a middle-aged writer who accepts a series of invitations to attend literary events around the world so that he will have an excuse not to attend the wedding of his ex-lover. From Paris to Berlin and Morocco to India, it sounds like the protagonist undergoes a slew of mishaps that seem all too humorous. “Less” has been labeled a “scintillating satire of the American abroad,” but it is above all apparently a rumination on the human heart and a love story. I heard the author speak about it on the New York Times weekly book podcast and thought it sounded too fun to pass up, so bring it on.

My third pick for July releases has been a struggle to decide on as various titles are calling out to me. It’s either Michael Robotham’s latest novel “The Secrets She Keeps,” which I’ve heard is an excellent 5 star-ish kind of thriller and quite a doozy, or Jean E. Pendziwol’s novel “The Lightkeeper’s Daughters,” which is about the last family manning a lighthouse on the Ontario side of Lake Superior in the 1920s and ‘30s. It’s said to be a wonderful yarn of a story.

And good grief, I’m a sucker for anything lighthouse-y: I ate up the setting of M.L. Stedman’s 2012 novel “The Light Between Oceans” and surely I’m game for more. (Please note: I also can’t pass up stories about protagonists in fire lookout towers, or for that matter, those headed on polar expeditions, LOL.) Since “The Lightkeeper’s Daughters” has received high praise on Goodreads and has an alluring cover, I’m going with it — shining light or no shining light.

As for August novels, I’m picking Ayobami Adebayo’s debut novel “Stay With Me,” which Michiko Kakutani praised so highly in her last book review for The New York Times. Among other things she said it was “stunning” and “heartbreaking.”

Set in Nigeria, it’s apparently the story of a young married couple who are experiencing fertility issues. Told by both the husband and wife, the story delves into their marriage — and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.

The Nigerian author is said to be an “exceptional storyteller,” and at 29 years old, quite a talent. I can’t wait to check out her first novel.

Next up, I’ll pick Jonathan Dee’s new novel “The Locals,” which is said to work as both political allegory and an engrossing character study. It’s about the residents of a small rural working-class New England town who have their world overturned by a billionaire financier who moves there post-9/11 and becomes mayor.

As author Mary Karr says “Jonathan Dee tells a must-read story for our age. Class struggle, tyranny, America’s disillusionment after 9/11—‘The Locals’ creates a delicately drawn world impossible to forget.”

Dee is an author I have not read before, but one whose novels I would like to check out. This one seems the perfect place to start.

Lastly for August books, I’ll pick Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel “My Absolute Darling,” which sounds like a pretty terrifying story about a teenage girl who’s raised by her abusive father in the Northern California wilderness. Usually I would not go near a story like this, but apparently the teenage girl, nicknamed Turtle, is a protagonist well worth the difficult journey for her independence.

This novel has received a ton of positive hype and buzz from many authors and sources — who say it’s heartrending and impossible to put down, but I’m still contemplating whether I can handle a “Room” type of story. You recall the Emma Donoghue book from which a movie was made. If someone has read  Tallent’s novel, please tell me if it’s too much to bear.

As for movies, I pick “Dunkirk” for July releases and “Detroit” for August ones, which “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow made, based on the murder of three young African American men during Detroit’s five-day street riot in 1967. Judging by the movie’s trailer, this period crime drama looks explosive and intense. I guess I didn’t know much about the 1967 riot in Detroit, but the film was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, which I plan to read more about in the days ahead.

It looks like a much better film than perhaps “The Glass Castle,” which is also coming out this month. Although I loved Jeannette Walls’s memoir, the film version (sadly) doesn’t look like it will live up to her book — just judging by the movie’s long trailer. Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of the father looks quite off to me, but tell me if I’m wrong.

As for July album releases I’ll pick Coldplay’s EP “Kaleidoscope,” which apparently is a companion piece to the band’s prior album “A Head Full of Dreams.” The new one has just five songs on it, but I usually get what Coldplay puts out, so hence I have to go there. For August, it’s either David Rawlings’s album “Poor David’s Almanack” or Iron & Wine’s new album “Beast Epic” — there’s not much else out this month, but prepare for September as it will be huge.

Until then enjoy your summer days.

And let me know which July and August releases you have liked, or are  looking forward to.

This entry was posted in Top Picks. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to July & August Releases

  1. Brian Joseph says:

    I also do not want August to end. I am really enjoying the summer this year.

    Several of the books that you listed sound good. The Locals seems to be a very timely story. It is interesting that the description ties the story to 09/11. I think that our current predicament is indeed connected.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Brian, Glad you are having a good summer! Me too. I agree The Locals has caught my attention and I’m curious about what it says about the aftermath of 9/11. I’m going to try to get it from the library soon. Enjoy your August.

  2. I’m so out of touch with new releases this summer… this is the first I’ve seem of most of these books. The Locals sounds very good!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi JoAnn, you are having a very busy summer! I agree we both must get to The Locals sometime soon. Cheers.

  3. I loved Goodbye, Vitamin and really want to read Stay With Me. I agree with you on The Glass Castle trailer. My brother-in-law grew up in Detroit – I’ll have to ask him about the riots.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Kathy, thanks for your tip about Goodbye, Vitamin which I saw on your site among others. It looks touching and I want to get to Stay With Me too. The movie Detroit looks like it will be intense; I’m gearing up for it.

  4. Carmen says:

    The first three books seem good to me. I like humorous stories too and right now that would be a welcomed change of pace in my uneven reading year. Goodbye Vitamin has been well received in the blogosphere. I’ve read good reviews about that one.

    Detroit is being released with a lot of hype. The critics seem to love it, and about time that another movie made waves this year because the selection and quality so far has been dismal. 🙁

    • Susan Wright says:

      I agree Carmen, it’s been a slow movie year so far but I have hope for the fall ones. I plan to see Detroit. As for novels, it’s nice every once in awhile to get a funny one that makes me laugh. I will try some of these out and let you know! Enjoy your August.

  5. Judy Krueger says:

    Thanks for all the tips. If Kakutani raved about Stay With Me, I’m there. I will miss her too!
    I will definitely see Detroit!
    The August release I am looking forward to is The Plague Diaries, the final book in a fantasy trilogy by the terribly overlooked Ronlyn Domingue.
    Happy reading in August and I hope your summer lasts as long as you wish!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Judy. Do you remember these riots in Detroit? I will have to brush up on knowing more about what happened. The film looks intense but I will be there. I’m so bummed Kakutani is gone, ugh — her reviews were always a big deal and I liked reading them whenever they came out. Her last review did rave about Stay With Me. I will look into Ronlyn Domingue’s books – thanks for the tip. Enjoy.

  6. Vicki says:

    So many good books in this post. I’ll be adding a few to my tbr list. I have Goodbye, Vitamin and plan on reading it soon.

    I love lighthouses and have pictures of them on every wall and a bunch of lighthouse figurines. I like to visit them to and climb to the top. Awesome views!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Vicki, thanks for stopping by! Glad to hear you are a fan of lighthouses as well. I’m usually intrigued by a story with a lighthouse setting. You must have quite a collection of them. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Goodbye, Vitamin; you might get to it before me. I’ll stop by, cheers.

  7. I’ve heard great things about Goodbye, Vitamin, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for something like that right now. Detroit looks really interesting. I haven’t seen The Hurt Locker, but I’m trying to watch more films with female directors and this looks like a really interesting subject.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Kate, yeah I think the movie Detroit will likely be big. The Hurt Locker was quite intense and this one looks like that too. Right now I’m reading Handmaid’s Tale so who knows if I will get to Goodbye, Vitamin soon. Enjoy your week.

  8. Michelle says:

    I’m enjoying getting caught up on some of the summer releases. It has been such a great season for new books! Detroit looks fascinating. I don’t know if I will get around to seeing it in the theater, but I suspect we will be hearing about it again when awards season rolls around.

    • Susan Wright says:

      I agree Michelle, Detroit will likely be up for some awards; I might try to see it at the theater this month. I’m a bit behind on some of these summer releases but better late than never! You’ve read quite a few of them. Cheers.

  9. I downloaded The Secrets She Keeps…and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I also love lighthouses, so I might have to take a closer look at The Light-Keeper’s Daughter.

    Of course I have to consider My Absolute Darling, for the Northern California setting…and the abuse. Yeah, those books seem to call to me.

    Enjoy your choices….and thanks for visiting my blog.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Laurel, yeah all three titles you mention are calling out to me, but I’m in The Handmaid’s Tale at the moment so I’ll have to get through that first. I’ve heard quite positive things about The Secrets She Keeps so I’ll be interested to see what you think of it. Enjoy your week.

  10. Naomi says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your summer. How did the tennis go?

    I’m definitely interested in Stay With Me. We’re planning to read it for Literary Wives later this year.
    I can’t help you with My Absolute Darling, because this is the first I’ve heard of it. But now I’m also curious how hard it is to read. To me it sounds more like Our Endless Numbered Days because of the father/daughter relationship and the wilderness. But Our Endless Numbered Days wasn’t a tough read…

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hmm. Thanks Naomi for letting me know that Our Endless Numbered Days has a similar storyline. I’ve seen it around the blogosphere; glad it wasn’t a tough read. I have read this new book is a bit tough in places but has a great protagonist. Hmm we will see. I’m rather chicken about abuse stories. As for the tennis — we leave on Aug. 19 for those matches! Fingers crossed.

  11. Ti says:

    I have My Absolute Darling and have Goodbye, Vitamin on hold. So many good books. I also saw The Locals the other day which looked interesting. I need to finish The House Among the Trees but it’s such a slog. Unless something changes soon I am going to put it down as a DNF.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Ti, sorry to hear the book you’re reading is a slog — never fun. I look forward to hearing what you think of the two you have on hold. I hope to get to them as well though I’m in Handmaid’s Tale at the moment. I’ll stop by your site soon, cheers. Enjoy your week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *