Beach reads

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on reading. (Kaitlin McKeown / Daily Press)

Editor's note: This week's Writers' Block column is being written by staff writer Ann M. Efimetz.

The season of summer reading is upon us.

Blockbusters aren't just movies. Online booksellers have editor's picks suggesting titles that can entertain and challenge during the vacation months. Whether your idea of a good read is "Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King or "The One and Only: A Novel" by Emily Giffin, there are plenty of choices available.

Local authors also have a variety of titles that could be the ideal way to spend an afternoon at the beach or the pool or on the deck during the longest days of the year. The books are available from online booksellers, including Amazon.com.

•Phyllis Hall Haislip has written six historical novels for middle grade readers. She has also penned a book on Colonial Williamsburg's Fife and Drum Corps. Her most recent works are two adult historical novels based on the life of Ermenargarde, Viscountess of Narbonne. The books are set in 12th-century France. Book one of the Narbonne Inheritance series is "The Viscount's Daughter," which was a finalist for the James River Writers Novel Award and winner of the Maryanne Farley Award for Fiction.

The second book, "The Viscountess," was also a finalist for the JRW Novel Award. The book's description reads, "In a time of violence and unrest in Southern France, Ermengarde is a fighter. Married against her will, she sees her substantial inheritance usurped by an unscrupulous husband, her lands given over to a man she can't stand, let alone love."

•Local resident, Col. Emmett F. Knight, U.S. Army, (Ret.) has written an account of his experiences in Vietnam. "First In Vietnam, An Exercise in Excess of 30 Days" tells the story of the first U.S. helicopter company to serve in Vietnam. The book covers the 1961-62, the period when the United States fully began military operations.

•Another read with a military focus, although this one fiction, is "The Weekend Warriors," by James W. Burke Jr. The book is a historical novel that examines the brotherhood that forms between those who serve.

Burke, who served more than 25 years in the U.S. Army, National Guard and Army Reserve is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the Army Command and General Staff College. He volunteers as a mentor for the Wounded Warrior program at Fort Eustis.

The description of his book states, "The Weekend Warriors" examines the attitudes toward military action and the influence war has on the people of the United States, its allies and its enemies. Burke's novel also explores both the positive and negative effects of pushing soldiers to their physical and mental limits."

Efimetz can be reached at 757-345-2341.

Read and win

Local libraries have launched their summer reading programs. Many have categories for children, teens and adults and offer prizes and activities during the summer. Check your library for details and participation guidelines.

Must read lists

The American Library Association's list of notable books for 2014 include titles that can be read over the summer. Most are available in public libraries.

Fiction: "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; "Claire of the Sea Light" by Edwidge Danticat; "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra; "The Dinner" by Herman Koch; "Enon" by Paul Harding; "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt; "Life after Life" by Kate Atkinson; "A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki; "Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See" by Juliann Garey; "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards" by Kristopher Jansma; and "The Woman Upstairs" by Claire Messud.

Nonfiction: "Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures" by Virginia Morell; "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" by Daniel James Brown; "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" by Eric Schlosser; "The Faraway Nearby" by Rebecca Solnit; "Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital" by Sheri Fink; "Johnny Cash" by Robert Hilburn; "Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East" by Scott Anderson; "Year Zero: A History of 1945" by Ian Buruma; "On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History" by Nicholas Basbanes; "On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks" by Simon Garfield; "The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code" by Margalit Fox; "The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking" by Brendan I. Koerner; and "To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care" by Cris Beam.

Poetry: "Hum" by Jamaal May; and "The Ogre's Wife" by Ron Koertge.

To read the library association's summaries of each of the books, go to http://www.dailypress.com/books.

Features Editor Felicia L. Mason contributed to this report.

Reading/Writing

For more news on the local writing and reading community, go to dailypress.com/books where Leah Price blogs about all things books. And if you have a new release or upcoming event to share, contact Price at ldprice@dailypress.com or #hrbooks.