New books for your summer reading

By Heather Pisani-Kristl | La Mesa Reads

In her June release, “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War,” nonfiction writer and unlikely Reader’s Digest contributor Mary Roach sends dispatches from the front lines of military research. The human body took center stage in her previous bestsellers “Bonk” (sex), “Gulp” (digestion), and “Stiff” (cadavers). In “Grunt,” the star is the human research subject: fed caffeinated meat, armed with WWII-era shark repellent, and outfitted with a thermometer in an uncomfortable location, all in the pursuit of a safer and more effective soldier.

1GruntRoach is not an embedded journalist riding with marines; her brand of fearlessness is cornering a Navy SEAL in the mess hall to ask him if he has suffered intestinal distress during covert ops. The author also visits the Segall Productions studio in San Diego’s Kearny Mesa, where she simulates smoke inhalation during medical training for corpsmen. Along the way, there’s plenty of humor, science, and little-known history. Roach is a master of the footnote and frequently hides her best asides at the bottom of the page, so don’t forget to read the fine print.

Is there a J.K. Rowling fan who doesn’t know about the July publication of the official script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the eighth Harry Potter book and London-based play? Get ready for the adult Harry, father of three and beleaguered employee of the Ministry of Magic. Taking place 19 years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” this book focuses on Harry’s youngest son Albus. Rowling and company have been so tight-lipped about the plot that there’s not much more I can tell you, except to warn you that “sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.”

cursed-child-coversThe end of August ushers in our hottest weather, so you’ll need a steamy book to keep you occupied on your beach blanket or hammock. Longtime author Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ late summer release, “First Star I See Tonight,” introduces private detective Piper Dove mucking up her first job, which is tailing a former Chicago Stars quarterback named Cooper Graham. Piper isn’t great with disguises, so she’s soon trying to explain herself to Coop without giving away the reason she’s been hired — or her obvious attraction to him. The author’s tag line is “life’s too short to read depressing books,” so you’re guaranteed to come away from this suspenseful romance with a smile. If you enjoyed “Natural Born Charmer” or “This Heart of Mine,” you’ll welcome this latest addition to Phillips’ “Chicago Stars” series.

All of these books are new to the San Diego County Library system. To request them, go online with your library card at or contact the La Mesa Library at 619-469-2151.

1140-summer-books-2016-13-susan-elizabeth-phillips-first-star-i-see-tonight.imgcache.rev1464034670642.web.945.544The County Library’s Summer Reading Challenge continues through Aug. 31, with prizes and free books for kids, teens and adults who read 10 books or 10 hours during the summer. You can register at or visit the La Mesa Library for a reading log.

News from our friends

The annual General Membership meeting of the Friends of La Mesa Library will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28. This meeting will include election of officers and approval of the FY16-17 Friends of La Mesa Library budget. If you’d like to become more involved and support library fundraising efforts, please join us.

—Heather Pisani-Kristl is branch manager of the La Mesa Library. Reach her at


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