The June LibraryReads list came out this week. Once again, these are the top ten books published in June that librarians across the country love. All have been ordered for our library. There are several that I agree with enthusiastically. Speaking of that, I read the top pick for the April LibraryReads list, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey. It was DELIGHTFUL! I loved it. It was an easy read and I highly recommend it. Anyway, on with this list.
The top pick is Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. This title is both a mystery and a portrayal of the frightening experience of memory loss. The story is told by Maud, a woman who is suffering from dementia. Maud is looking for her friend Elizabeth, who might or might not be missing. You get a feeling for what happens in an affected brain, how it switches between past and present and how that makes it impossible for someone to realize what is happening around them. This story line is very intense but there is humor too. Reviewers have loved this one.
China Dolls by Lisa See. It is set in 1938 San Francisco and follows the lives of three young women up through World War II. Helen, Ruby, and Grace meet while auditioning for dancers at the Forbidden City, a nightclub near Chinatown. Although they come from different backgrounds, they become fast friends and navigate the world of prejudice. The novel is written in the first person by all three with different chapters by each individual. The story ends 50 years later when they reunited for a 50th Anniversary show at the Forbidden City. It is said to be rich in atmosphere and period details with wonderfully deep character development. Critics love this title.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. More historical fiction, this one dealing with Malka, a Russian immigrant girl who was run over and crippled by an ice vendor's horse. Her family abandoned her but the Italian ice vendor adopted her and put her to work. Here her destiny was shaped and the smart, sarcastic, unattractive, crippled Malka became Lillian, Catholic, educated and shrewd, tenacious and driven to be a success. She learns all about the family ice business and marries Albert Dunkle eventually becoming the "Ice Cream Queen". She presents a motherly, fun loving image but in reality she is scheming, lying and drinks too much. When her worlds collide, she has some thinking to do.
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum. This debut novel covers the high and low points of a marriage. Richard Haddon, an artist, is fresh off an affair. Ann, his sophisticated wife and the mother of his daughter, discovers the extent of the affair. Richard must win back his family while both struggle with the pain.
The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand. Dabney Kimball Beech is a 48 year old fifth generation Nantucketer. She loves the island and refuses to leave. Her high school sweetheart left to take a journalist position but she refused, raising their daughter by herself. Eventually she marries a Harvard professor. Dabney's talent is matchmaking and she has several long lasting marriages to her credit. When she is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she tries to find matches for all the people close to her. A tearjerker.
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. Koch's last book, The Dinner, was extremely well reviewed. This title follows Marc Schlosser, a very unlikeable doctor to the rich and famous. One of his patients, Ralph Meier, and actor, invites Marc and his family on a holiday. Ralph ends up dead and the medical board accuses Marc of negligence while Ralph's wife accuses him of murder. What is the story behind this twisted tale?
The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner. A story with a strong sense of place. Loosewood Island is a fictional place somewhere between Canada and the U.S. The family that has run a lobster fishing company for generations, the Kings, reach a point when an heir to the business must be names. Woody King, the patriarch, has three daughters. The oldest, Cordelia, loves the way of life, the company and the work. She is determined to carry on her family's legacy and is prepared to fight the local drug smuggling gang for the right to do so. The story has some flavor of Shakespeare's King Lear.
The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank. I just spoke of this last week. This is what I said: "Frank's specialty is sense of place and the place is the Lowcounty in Carolina. Friends since the first day of college, Ashley Anne Waters and Mary Beth Smythe are living in Ashley's parents Sullivan Island beach house rent free. Ashley knows her mother would be appalled at the idea of holding catered parties on the first floor so she doesn't tell her. Liz is dealing with her mother. This story of 3 generations of different families is warm and funny and true." The reviewers say it is perfect for summer reading.
The Quick by Lauren Owen. Some of the things that have been said about this upcoming debut are:
"An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London" and also it was named as one of the top 10 literary fiction books of the season by Publishers Weekly. Although hard to describe this book is a Victorian Gothic with parts adventure and detective novel. It takes place in London in the last 1800's when a poet goes missing and his sister comes to London to try to find him.
Lastly, Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. This anthology features some of the most well known fantasy/suspense authors of today. Martin adds a tale from the Game of Thrones series, Gillian Flynn has a short story, Garth Nix of The Art of Racing in the Rain is in there. There are 21 total. I want to read it.
So, we have things we can read in June. I can't wait for some of them - how about you?