Welcome to Coffee Time Tuesdays, where we cover what we’ve been reading, planning to read, and what new releases we’ve had our eyes on in the past week.
Summer is swiftly coming to an end, although the heatwave is still intense here in the North of England (I never thought I’d say that). And as it always seems to be the case around mid-August, I’m a little stuck, to be honest.
Late summer is a funny time. The air gets that chill that makes me crave autumn, but the sun is still high, the coffee still iced, and the holiday mood is still up and running, so I never know what to read.
Hoping I’m not alone in experiencing a confused reading appetite around the end of a season, I decided to make today a summer special column, giving you not just one new release, but five. In doing so, I hope to stretch the summer feeling for as long as possible and make these last two weeks of the season memorable enough for all of us, at least in the realm of books.
1. ‘Mercury Picture Presents’ by Anthony Marra
Release date: 4 August
Genre: Historical fiction
Ok, I admit I first chose Mercury Picture Presents for the cover. It’s the most perfect, late-summer cover. But then the plot really drew me in and I think it’s a very widely-appealing plot too.
The epic tale of a brilliant woman who must reinvent herself to survive, moving from Mussolini’s Italy to 1940s Los Angeles-a timeless story of love, deceit, and sacrifice from the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. — John Murray Press
This sounds like the mid-century sister of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, where we have a strong, resilient female protagonist in search of a better life that can defy the political injustice of the world. If you’ve read any of my recent articles about books, you know I’m slowly developing a preference for books with a cinema subplot, and this sounds perfect.
Hollywood, political unrest, and a female associate producer who tries to push European talent overseas during a time of war, where the continent is decimated by violence. What more can you ask for?
2. ‘Carrie Soto Is Back’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release date: 30 august
I had to. I simply had to. I could not have compiled a list of late-summer book releases without the queen that is Taylor Jenkins Reid. Carrie Soto Is Back follows a famous fictional tennis player who, after retiring, has her record broken before her very eyes.
So Carrie Soto, in true Taylor Jenkins Reid main character fashion, decides to come out of retirement for one last game, in a fierce and determined attempt to reclaim her record.
Thank you, Taylor Jenkins Reid, for the escapism we all need. — Pandora Sykes
I know this comes out on the second to last day of summer, but come on. Are we even going to hide how much we try to squeeze one more book into our monthly reads on those last couple of days? Might as well do it with a tried and tested addictive author.
3. ‘Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club’ by Roselle Lim
Release date: 18 August
Genre: Magical realism
I don’t know about you, but the end of the summer usually comes with nostalgia for me. You know, the classic blues that it will get darker and darker, and the year is almost over, and why didn’t I do more over summer?
Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club sounds like it understands that feeling. This sweet magical realism story follows failed matchmaker Sophie Go as she tries to salvage her reputation and convinces seven men in their 70s that she will find love for them.
I like the idea of looking for love later in life and I think this could be the sweet, wholesome story I will need as I transition into the autumn mood.
4. ‘Dogs of Summer’ by Andrea Abreu, translated by Julia Sanches
Release date: 2 August
This bold exploration of girlhood and queerness follows Shit and Isora, two best friends who discover themselves over one summer that changes everything.
A rich and prophetic world of women and low, grey clouds that merge with the sea. Pure poetry. — Pilar Quintana
I would normally detail more on the plot, but I think Dogs of Summer is the kind of book that needs to be experienced through its characters. What happens doesn’t seem that important, and the book doesn’t have a plot-driven online footprint. But if you think girlhood, love, desire, queerness and friendship are themes you would enjoy, pick this book up.
5. ‘Witches’ by Brenda Lozano, translated by Heather Cleary
Release date: 16 August
Genre: Fiction/Magical realism
What sounds like a story of women supporting women in navigating the world and the multi-faceted nature of womanhood, Witches would be the perfect story to take you from summer to early autumn in a gripping, diverse, and bewitching fashion.
This is the story of who Feliciana is, and of who Paloma was.
I had wanted to get to know them, but I realised right away that the people I needed to know better were my sister Leandra and my mother. Myself. I came to understand that you can’t really know another woman until you know yourself… — Brenda Lozano, ‘Witches’
The murder of Paloma, a trans curandera (healer), prompts an investigation bringing journalist Zoe from Mexico City into the small and old-fashioned town where she lived. There, Zoe partners up with Feliciana, Paloma’s cousin, and together they try to come to terms with their identities, their power to make a change, and the unfair world they inhabit.
And that’s it for this week’s Coffee Time Tuesday! Can you relate to the late-summer reading slump and has any of these books caught your eye? Let me know in the comments!