If you're looking for tips on packing the perfect picnic basket or a refresher on how to play croquet, you're in luck. Need to repair wicker furniture or perhaps build a lean-to? You're all set: Suzanne Brown's Summer: A User's Guide lives up to its name. Brown has created a go-to book that surely will delight domestic divas, as well as hapless sorts who fantasize about creating the Perfect Summer Experience but aren't sure how to go about it. The author's voice is a friendly one; for the most part, she pulls off delivering suggestions and instructions without sounding patronizing, though the text does get a bit precious here and there (margaritas are sunshine in a glass and Reefs are the Rolls Royce of flip-flops. ). Overall, though, Brown seems earnest in her mission: She's summered at lovely spots up and down the East Coast, and she wants readers to have as much fun and create as many delightful memories as she has.

Summer features page after page of color photos of enticing summer foods, wholesome activities and idyllic scenes. In addition, the how-to sections use helpful step-by-step line drawings to aid in identifying animal tracks or making a beach-towel pillow. No detail goes unshared: there are recipes for food and drink, music and movie playlists, and gardening tips. Essays offering a historical perspective on everything from baseball to toasting marshmallows are enlivened by the author's personal musings and ensure that the book can be enjoyed as a cover-to-cover read as well as a reference guide.

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