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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of June 15, 2009

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Finally! We hit the mother lode of summer fiction, with romance, mystery, YA, and chick-lit you can take to the beach. There’s also a token number of non-fiction, including, in the “truth is stranger than fiction” category, a book conceivably about the bully on that beach.

Below Zero
by C. J. Box

The winner of the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 – in addition to an Edgar Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist — Wyoming native C. J. Box is the author of nine Joe Pickett novels, the newest one Below Zero. The suspense begins when Wyoming game warden Pickett gets a phone message: "Tell Sherry April called." It’s a rude awakening that badly shakes up Pickett and Sherry – his oldest daughter, Sheridan – since April, Pickett's foster daughter, was killed in a horrific murder and arson spree six years prior. Now Sherry is regularly getting text messages from “April,” and believes, with offered and supposed proof, that she is still alive, while Pickett remains suspicious. Is he the target of a hoax? Or is "April" the hostage of deranged ecoterrorists who are headed straight for Wyoming victimizing people whose carbon footprint is too high? Not taking any chances, and still grappling with guilt for not protecting April from her Waco-style destiny six years earlier (recounted in previous novel Winterkill), Pickett vows to save her this time if she is still alive. With a topical environmental theme and Wyoming's immeasurable Cowboy State setting, the promising above-and-beyond Below Zero offers hairpin twists and turns as tangled as the back roads of the Black Hills.

by J. Courtney Sullivan

Graduating from college and moving into the "real world" is a familiar rite of passage for many people. See if the following, as transpires in J. Courtney Sullivan’s Commencement, is the overly familiar stuff of countless chick-lit and Lifetime Channel dreams: Celia, Bree, April, and Sally, find it's bittersweet to have to move on from Smith College, where they all met. At first, they bonded not only because they were new but because they lived together in the worst rooms in King House, third-floor maids' quarters. Celia's a Catholic schoolgirl, April an angry young feminist, and Bree the Southern belle who is already engaged, while Sally has just lost her mother to cancer. Despite these differing personalities and individual traits, they become best friends — though of course not right away! — and that special companionship carries them to their later lives, even after they go on their separate paths. When the foursome reunite for Sally’s wedding four years after graduation, their friendships have changed, but they remain wholeheartedly loyal to one another – through thick ‘n’ thin, through all matters of love, work, family, sex, and New York Times Bestsellerdom.

L.A. Candy
by Lauren Conrad

"Don’t be hating! When i finish reading it, i will be sure to write my most honest review of how the book went. Did i mention that im very excited about reading it!!! Lauren your my hero and roll model!! Keep your head up and be strong."


Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
by Margot Berwin

by Kate Christensen

Knock Out (FBI Series #13)
by Catherine Coulter

Along for the Ride
by Sarah Dessen

Fragment: A Novel
by Warren Fahy

The Neighbor
by Lisa Gardner

Queen Takes King
by Gigi Levangie Grazer

Dune Road
by Jane Green

A Rogue of My Own
by Johanna Lindsey

The Angel's Game
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Tall Book: A Celebration of Life on High
by Arianne Cohen

European of Yesterday: A Biography of Stefan Zweig
by Donald A. Prater

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch