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5 unforgettable new books to read this summer

By Teri Harman, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted May 30th, 2012 @ 7:30pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Henry James, an iconic American writer, said, “Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” And what better way to spend the upcoming, glorious summer afternoons than with a brand new, unforgettable book in hand. Each of these recently released books is the kind of book that is hard to put down and has the potential to be a favorite read.

1. “On Little Wings” by Regina Sirois

Jennifer has no idea she has an aunt; no hint of her rich family history, no clue her mother is keeping a life-long secret. Not until an old photograph falls from the pages of a random paperback and a family wound filled with death, regret and stories never told is ripped open. Leaving her home in Nebraska, Jennifer travels to the gray, rocky coast of Maine and the open arms of her Aunt Sarah. As Jennifer tries to heal the wounds of the past and piece together her mother’s story, she also finds first love.

This young adult novel is everything a young adult novel should be: rich, spirited writing, gorgeous settings, strong families and journeys of self-discovery, along with clean content. Author Regina Sirois has done an absolutely amazing job with her first book. Moms, pick this one up for your teen daughter and then read it after she is finished.

This book is only available on Amazon.com (paperback and e-book). It is also a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. A free excerpt of “On Little Wings.” can be found at amazon.com.

2. “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams

What does it mean to have a voice? Award-winning Utah author Terry Tempest Williams explores the concept of voice in her new piece of creative nonfiction. Her mother told her, as she lay dying of cancer at age 54, that she had left Terry all her journals but that she must not read them until after she was gone. When Terry opened the first journal; it was blank. And the second, third, fourth — all three shelves of journals were blank and empty.

Williams' writing is beautiful and evocative, her wisdom rich and her insights life-changing. Few books truly have the power to change us for the better, but this one does. It's so powerful that readers will want to explore it over and over again.

Content note: There are about a half dozen uses of the F-word and a description of a painting of female anatomy.

3. “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani

Enza and Ciro first meet as teenagers in the majestic beauty of the Italian Alps. But after one night of heart-felt conversation and a first kiss, circumstances beyond their control pull them apart. They meet again, unexpectedly, far from their native home in the hustle of turn-of-the-century America, but still fate seems to want to keep them apart. Fate, however, is not strong enough to keep these star-crossed lovers apart forever.

From the beauty of Italy, the drudgery of garment factories, the trenches of the Great War and the glamour of the Metropolitan Opera, this epic and beautifully written story of love and family is one that everyone will be talking about.

4. “Trapeze” by Simon Mawer

When author Simon Mawer was 10 years old, his mother handed him a well-worn, well-read book titled “Moondrop to Gascony.” This vivid, first-person account of a woman serving in the British Special Operations Executive during World War II captivated his young imagination and stayed with him to become his fascinating new novel, “Trapeze.”

This is the story of a young woman who speaks native French and is recruited by the SOE. At the age of 19, Marian finds herself enduring commando training, attending a “school for spies,” parachuting into enemy territory, and she is ultimately caught in a chain of events that could change the course of the entire war.

A brilliant and engaging blend of fact and fiction, this novel will hook readers from the start and amaze them with a story of adventure, betrayal, growing into adulthood and love.

Content note: Some violence, sex and sexual references.

5. “Surrender” by Elana Johnson

Fans of the hugely popular dystopian genre will love this new offering from Utah author Elana Johnson. A sequel to her debut novel, “Posession,” this book can also stand on its own. It is thrilling, fast-paced and will appeal to teens, adults, boys and girls.

Raine follows the rules, as every good citizen of Freedom should. She does everything that is expected of her, including using her secret and incredibly powerful talent to aid in her father's malicious cause as Director. That is until she meets Gunner.

Gunner also has a powerful talent, and at 17 the Director decides it’s time for Gunn to use that talent to help keep Freedom under control. But after Raine pulls Gunner into the world of the Insiders, a group of underground rebels, he is determined to use his talent to destroy the Director and Freedom.

Content note: Mild foul language is used throughout and occasional mild violence.

For more summer reading suggestions, check out my Studio 5 Summer Reading List.


Book calendar:

Check your local library for summer reading programs, a great way to keep kids reading while out of school. Every library has one.

  • West Jordan Library: Grand opening celebration, June 2, 10 a.m., 8030 S. 1825 West, 801-943-4636.
  • Salt Lake City Library: Hosting a lecture with author Charles C. Mann, "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus," May 31, 7 p.m.
  • The King's English Bookshop: Hosting several author events. See the shop's website for all the details.
  • Weller Book Works: Hosting several book and author events. Check out the store's website for the information.


About the Author: Teri Harman

Teri Harman writes and reads from home amid the chaos of three young children. Her bi-weekly column, Book Matters, appears on ksl.com. She also contributes a monthly book club segment to Studio 5. For more book fun, visit book-matters.com

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