Our annual summer-reading roundup is coming to the a&e section June 17, but let's get a sneak peek, starting with "beach reads," which are big sellers every summer. You know the type of novel: light but not frothy, compelling but not taxing, fun but not dumbed-down. Maybe a romance or a thriller. An amuse-bouche to entertain, not a full-course clambake with Maine lobster and drawn butter.
"Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale" by Lynda Rutledge (Amy Einhorn, $25.95, 304 pages): Faith is the wealthiest woman in town, who one day decides to empty her 19th century mansion of its treasures and hold a garage sale. Does the reclusive widow know something nobody else does? Like, maybe she got a message from God?
"Joy for Beginners" by Erica Bauermeister (Putnam, $24.95, 288 pages): Kate survives a serious illness and, prompted by six close friends, vows to celebrate by going on a drastic adventure to face her fears. But the pact between them means that her friends must do the same.
"The Taliban Cricket Club" by Timeri N. Murari (Ecco, $24.99, 336 pages): To help her family escape the oppressive Afghanistan regime and the threat of imprisonment, spirited journalist Rukhsana organizes a cricket team in Kabul one with a hidden agenda.
"Sea Change" by Karen White (NAL, $15, 392 pages): When Ava marries Matthew after a whirlwind courtship, they move to historic St. Simons Island off the Georgia coast. There, a hidden past threatens to ruin their future.
"Sorority Sisters" by Claudia Welch (Berkley, $16, 400 pages): It's the college campus scene in the mid-1970s, and three co-eds become sorority sisters. Through good times and bad and beyond graduation their loyalty to each other remains strong.
"Killed at the Whim of a Hat" by Colin Cotterill (Minotaur, $14.99, 384 pages): Jimm Juree must abandon her career as a crime reporter to move with her family to a rural village on the Thai coast. Much to her delight when she arrives, murder mysteries pop up everywhere.
"Thumped" by Megan McCafferty (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 304 pages): Set in a future where having a baby means fame and fortune for the mom, pregnant twin sisters are each about to become mothers of twins on the same day. As their millions of fans wait for "Double Double Due Date," the sisters are on overload.
"I Couldn't Love You More" by Jillian Medoff (5 Spot, $13.99, 432 pages): When her long-lost first love re-enters her life, working mom Eliot must react quickly to sudden events or face losing her cherished household.
"Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square, $16, 400 pages): A child is the bonding factor among four women of very different backgrounds.
Beyond the beach blanket
Tired of the beach, but still looking for a summer read? Try this potpourri:
"Stolen Prey" by John Sandford (Putnam, $27.95, 416 pages): This is one of the best in the 22- title "Prey" series. Lawman Lucas Davenport and colleagues take on sociopathic killers from Mexico, who are linked to an elaborate money-laundering scheme in the United States.
"A Land More Kind Than Home" by Wiley Cash (William Morrow, $24.99, 320 pages): Spying on adults can get a youngster in trouble, but no one deserves this. Two young brothers (one who is mute) must face and overcome evil in a small North Carolina home. A much-respected debut with a genuine sense of place.
"Dark Magic" by James Swain (Tor, $24.99, 352 pages): To his public, Peter Warlock is a magician with baffling tricks. In private, the psychic sees future crimes that may take place, and tips off law enforcement. His newest vision is so startling that it launches a manhunt as time runs out. Swain has appeared for the Bee Book Club.
"Harbor Nocturne" by Joseph Wambaugh (Mysterious Press, $27, 336 pages): The former L.A. detective continues his "Hollywood Station" series with another darkly funny slice of good guys vs. bad guys, set in San Pedro Harbor.
"The Final Leap" by John Bateson (University of California Press, $29.95, 322 pages): It's not a pleasant topic, but it is a compelling one. Since it opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge has been the stage for more than 1,500 suicides. The debate: Should the international landmark have a suicide barrier?
"The Billy Bob Tapes" by Billy Bob Thornton (William Morrow, $26.99, 272 pages): The controversial actor-director-producer just couldn't write a straightforward memoir thankfully. To get more perspective on who he is, he recruited former wife Angelina Jolie and pals Robert Duvall, Dwight Yoakam and others to write essays about him.
"Man of War" by Charlie Schroeder (Hudson Street, $25.95, 288 pages): The author joined the "historical reenactment" culture and traveled around the country (and through 2,000 years of history) to discover why adults dress in period costumes and do mock battle. Funny and scary, too.
"Treasure Hunter" by Robert MacKinnon (Berkley, $25.95, 336 pages): The "underwater archaeologist" recalls his most dramatic expeditions in a career of diving for treasures on lost shipwrecks.
"Inside the Plaza: An Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel" by Ward Morehouse III (Applause, $27.95, 239 pages): The grand dame of New York City has her secrets revealed, from scandals among visiting aristocracy to the quirks of celebrity guests. Included, of course, is a chapter on its most most famous resident, 6-year-old Eloise, who "lives in the room on the tippy-top floor."