One quite obvious tip I have for those of you who are eagerly awaiting new books to come out this summer is to check out the authors' previous works. In reading about the hoopla behind Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog, I picked up her first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum. As it was released in 1997, I was able to find used, cheap versions online and could also get a sense of whether or not I would enjoy her writing style.
The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Shaffert.
What a delightful little book it turned out to be. What caught me was the online dustjacket - the main character of the story is Essie Myles, an 83-year old obituary writer. Essie, or "S" by her great-granddaughter, is old, ancient even, and lives in a small town where she pens the obituary section for the local newspaper. She is a spunky and lively character and refuses to believe that old age means provides one with any dignity or rest. The events of the small town drive its characters into different adventures and side plots. However mainly the book for me developed and presented the character of someone who is old but refuses to abide by her age. If I am lucky enough to reach the ripe old age of 83, I wish to have the energy and attitude of Essie.