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Ahhh, summertime. The days are long; the weather is warm; and our surroundings are perfect for stuffing a beach bag full of books and spending time reading by the ocean or the pool. Here are a few suggestions for books to read while relaxing this summer:
In the very clever and entertaining "Wife 22," by Melanie Gideon , Alice Buckle has been married for 20 years and the spark seems to have gone out of the relationship. One day, an email appears in her inbox offering her $1,000 to participate in a survey titled "Marriage in the 21st Century," and she jumps at the opportunity. As she reflects on her marriage through the answers and corresponds with the researcher, she finds herself being drawn to this stranger she knows only through online communication. Readers will be turning the pages quickly to find out how it all turns out for Alice, her husband and Researcher 101.
If you like psychological thrillers, I can highly recommend two new novels: "Into the Darkest Corner," by Elizabeth Haynes , and "Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn . Both of these twisty, dark tales tell of seemingly perfect relationships gone very, very wrong. In "Gone Girl ," Nick's beautiful wife, Amy, has disappeared and he is the prime suspect; however, nothing is as it first seems in this complex, taut thriller. "Into the Darkest Corner " tells the story of Catherine and Lee, who seem to enter into an idyllic relationship until his attention turns to obsession. Told in alternating time frames between 2004, as the relationship grows more intense, and 2008, when Catherine is attempting to put her life back together as she deals with the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, the story races toward an exhilarating ending.
Mary Kay Andrews' novels are always wonderful beach books and her newest, "Spring Fever ," is no exception. Annajane has been divorced from her husband, Mason, for four years and truly believes she is over him. She is engaged to a lovely musician and plans to move to Atlanta to be with him; however, when the wedding of her ex-husband is postponed just as the bride is about to walk down the aisle, Annajane realizes she might want a second chance with Mason. Full of Andrews' trademark humor, endearing characters and Southern charm, this is a delightful summer read.
Reminiscent of John Grisham's "The Firm," "The 500" by Matthew Quirk , follows Mike Ford when he gets his dream job at a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. As he becomes established in his new position, he discovers secrets about the company and its powerful influence over Washington's decision-makers. Action-packed and engrossing, Quirk has written a terrific political adventure that is just begging to be made into a movie.
Although most people equate beach reads with brain candy, the long days of summer lend themselves well to delving into a hefty novel when you can devote hours to immersing yourself in a more complicated plot. The book I'll be toting to the pool this summer is Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall."  Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, "Wolf Hall " explores Thomas Cromwell's ambitious rise to power and his involvement in the politics and scandals of Tudor England. With a recently released sequel, "Bring Up the Bodies ," there are more than 1,000 pages of exceptional historical fiction waiting to be discovered