If you're looking for a hot and humorous beach read, New York Times best-selling romance writer Susan Elizabeth Phillips can deliver. She's written 13 "women's fiction" books in two series, plus eight stand-alone novels.
Her newest sizzler, "The Great Escape," is the Bee Book Club's choice for July. It's book six in the Lucy Jorik series. The second series is "Chicago Stars."
When we last saw Lucy Jorik, in 2011's "Call Me Irresistible," she was feeling trapped in "a panic-inducing bottleneck." Which accounted for the "seemingly perfect" adopted daughter of a former U.S. president to run from the marriage altar, leaving ex-groom Ted Beaudine with a dropped jaw. He ended up marrying Lucy's best friend, but that's literally another story.
"The Great Escape" is Lucy's own tale, in which she explains what she's been doing since fleeing her wedding ceremony. Turns out quite a bit, beginning from the moment she jumped on the back of a motorcycle piloted by a biker named Panda, a "hot dude" with an attitude. An adventure-filled road trip follows, leading the "lady on the lam" into some ... well, unusual situations.
"The Great Escape" is a fun romp, but has its share of emotional scenes when it deals with teens in jeopardy and other social issues. One of Phillips' agendas is giving voice to "the plight of families in crisis and children in need of help." Phillips' sister operates the Teens Alone program in Minnesota, dedicated to serving those needs.
Phillips is the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's Favorite Book of the Year award. She was inducted into the RWA's Hall of Fame in 2001, and received the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Phillips will give a presentation, answer questions and autograph "The Great Escape" for the Bee Book Club at 6 p.m. July 26 at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento. Barnes & Noble will be on site to sell "The Great Escape" for 30 percent off the retail price. Other books by Phillips also will be available.
"The Great Escape: (William Morrow, $25.99, 432 pages) will go on sale July 10. From July 10 through July 26, these stores will offer a 30 percent discount on the title: Barnes & Noble, Avid Reader at the Tower in Sacramento, Avid Reader in Davis, Time Tested Books, Underground Books, Hornet Bookstore at California State University, Sacramento, the UC Davis Bookstore and the Bookseller in Grass Valley.
Visit Phillips at www.susanephillips.com.
Information: (916) 321-1128.
Ray Bradbury 'loved life'
The passing of fantasy/ sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury on June 5 was a reminder of a phone interview I held with him in 2006.
He had just published "Farewell Summer," the sequel to his semi-autobiographical "Dandelion Wine" from 1957, and was working on two more novels.
Bradbury was 86 at the time and hard of hearing, but the enthusiasm in his voice was that of ... well, a boy, really.
"Writing has never been a task for me," he said. "In a way, I'm still wearing my tennis shoes from when I was 12. I put on my tennis shoes and go to the typewriter and play."
The final interview question was this: "Have you given any thought to a fitting epitaph?"
Bradbury replied, "It should read, 'Here lies a man who loved life from beginning to end, and he's sorry that the goddamn thing is over.' "
North state's picks
Earlier this month, the Northern California Book Reviewers group of book critics and editors held its 31st annual awards ceremony. The winners:
Fiction: "Sequoia Gardens" by Ernest J. Finney
Creative nonfiction: "Maya Roads: One Woman's Journey Among the People of the Rainforest" by Mary Jo McConahay
General nonfiction: "Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942" by Ian W. Toll
Poetry: "Thread" by Michael Palmer
Translation/fiction: "The Twelve Chairs" by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, translated by Anne O. Fisher
Young adult: "Instructions for a Broken Heart" by Kim Culbertson
Younger readers: "Seabird in the Forest" by Joan Dunning.
Book honors Julia Child
On Aug. 15, chef, cookbook author and TV personality Julia Child would have turned 100 (she died in 2004). In honor of that comes "Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat," written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy Bates (Abrams, $16.95, 40 pages).
The picture book transcends its target audience of young children to include foodies and fans of the iconoclastic Child (check out "The French Chef" on YouTube).
The story is set in 1940s Paris, where Julia and her husband, Paul, are "adopted" by a cat they name Minette. Much delight follows as Julia sharpens her cooking skills, and Minette serves as taster in the kitchen.
The book includes this excerpt from Julia's correspondence: "The more I cook, the more I like to cook. To think that it has taken me 40 years to find my true creative hobby and passion (cat and husband excepted)."
Classic Movie Night
The Sacramento Central Library's Classic Movie Night continues at 5:30 p.m. July 3 with a screening of "Captains Courageous" (1937) in the West Meeting Room.
Upcoming screenings (the first Tuesday of each month) will be Aug. 7 ("A Woman's Face," 1941), Sept. 4 ("Abbott and Costello in Hollywood," 1945), Oct. 2 ("The Uninvited," 1944), Nov. 6 ("The Comedians," 1967) and Dec. 4 ("The Shop Around the Corner," 1940).
The library is a 828 I St., Sacramento; (916) 264-2700.
Homes of famous authors
It's said that where we grow up influences who we become. The website www.flavorwire.com, specializing in "cultural news and critique," has compiled pictures (and related text) of 20 houses where famous authors spent some of their formative years. Among them: Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf and Hunter S. Thompson. Go to www.flavorwire.com/298087/the-childhood-homes-of-20-famous-authors.
While you're at it, the informative and funny "Summer Reading Flow Chart" is at www.teach.com/great- educational-resources/summer-reading-flowchart, offering 101 suggested titles for summer reading.