The Chelsea Girls, by Fiona Davis
In a dazzling new novel about the 20-year friendship that will irrevocably change two women’s lives, the author of The Dollhouse and The Address, deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism and blacklisting in the entertainment industry. The bright lights of the theater district, the glamour and danger of New York, the pressure building to name names and the wild scene at the iconic Chelsea Hotel come together in this wonderful novel.
Stay and Fight, by Madeline ffitch
Helen arrives in Appalachian, Ohio, full of love and her boyfriend’s ideas about living off the land. Too soon, with winter coming, he calls it quits. Helped by her boss and a neighbor couple, she makes it to spring. Those neighbors, Karen and Lily, are awaiting the arrival of their first child, a boy, which means their time at the Women’s Land Trust must end. Helen invites the new family to throw in with her. Their choices and lifestyle decisions face them down when the child, Perley, attends school for the first time and they must all confront societal norms. Chock-full of grit, quirky characters, questionable food sources, extreme living conditions and infestations, Stay and Fight is a ferocious read by a talented author.
Deep River, by Karl Marlantes
Rich in detail, Deep River is a family saga by the acclaimed author of Matterhorn about a Finnish woman and her brothers who immigrate to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s and struggle to make a life. Ultimately, it’s a book examining the tension between the collective needs and rights of American citizens as a group, and the dreams and rights of the individual and how both are necessary to realize the idea of America.
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
The author of The Underground Railroad returns with a new novel based on the real story of a Florida reform school. Elwood Curtis was kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother in Tallahassee and is about to enroll in the local black college. But one innocent mistake in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s is enough to send Elwood to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in its charge can become “honorable and honest men.” In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. Martin Luther King’s ringing assertion, “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” This masterful novel follows Elwood and his friend, Turner, as they navigate this world.
The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams
Newly widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau on assignment for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires? Or so Lulu imagines. As she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’ social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the island’s political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glitter lays an ugly reality. Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindlers and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe — a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love. When Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, the resulting cover-up reeks of royal privilege. Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unravel Thorpe’s complicated family history — a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal
A Midwestern family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, the younger of his two daughters, to start a brewery. She builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, the elder daughter, Edith, struggles to make ends meet. Where Edith has a heart as big as all Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel I-beam. One day, Helen finds she needs help herself and that her potential savior could be close to home . . . if it’s not too late. With a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them, this is a family saga where resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved and delighted.
Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and
Lt. Col. H. Ripley Rawlings IV, USMC
In this stunningly realistic view of modern warfare co-authored by a battlefield commander and the New York Times best-selling author of The Gray Man, the Kremlin takes advantage of a military crisis in Asia to simultaneously strike into Western Europe and invade east Africa in a bid to occupy three rare Earth mineral mines. Its tanks race across Poland crushing all opposition on a headlong dash for the heart of Germany. Satellite-killing missiles blind American forces while Spetsnaz teams destroy Allied communication relays. It’s all part of a master plan to confuse and defeat America and its allies. Deployed against the Russian attack are a Marine lieutenant colonel pulled out of a cushy job at the Pentagon and thrown into the fray; a French Special Forces captain and his intelligence operative father; a young Polish female partisan fighter; an A-10 Warthog pilot; and the captain of an American tank platoon who, along with a German sergeant, struggles to keep a small group of American and German tanks in the fight.
Crescendo, by Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell
A biography of Fred Allen, the musical prodigy born into a troubled and abusive family in rural Georgia during the Great Depression who overcame great obstacles to simultaneously attend The Juilliard School in New York City, the Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. In the 1960s Allen caught the attention of the music industry, earning numerous Grammy nominations. Just when his career was taking off, his wife, Winnie, announced she no longer wanted to raise their daughter in New York. Returning to the South, Allen took a job as a high school music teacher in his hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. Far from the glitz of Broadway, Allen never could have imagined that his new role would not only transform his life but change an entire community forever.
Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
Over the past eight years, Taddeo embedded herself with three American women in different parts of the country to write a deeply immersive account of their sexual lives and longings. The women include a high school student in North Dakota who has a relationship with her married English teacher; a middle-class Catholic homemaker in the Midwest who is dissatisfied in her marriage and begins an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming; and a glamorous restaurateur in the Northeast whose husband likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. Taddeo’s Three Women does for contemporary readers what Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife did for a previous generation.
Camp Tiger, by Susan Choi
In his last week before starting first grade, a boy and his family set out for a week-long camping trip. As they begin to unpack and set up camp, a tiger steps into the clearing. Thin but beautiful, the tiger asks the boy if there is a tent for him. Through the week, the boy and the tiger hike to new places, paddle the lake, fish, and watch the stars. They do things neither would risk on his own. And when the week is over, each must go his own way, both better for their time together. An absolutely stunning book. (Ages 4-6.)
Hum and Swish, by Matt Myers
On a beautiful day on a sunlit beach, Jamie begins to create. As artists must never be rushed or interrupted or questioned too much while their masterpieces are in development, Jamie replies, “I don’t know” to everyone who wants answers . . . until a fellow artist joins her and together they bring their special vein of art into the world. For artists and creators young and old, Hum and Swish is a celebration of beauty, wonder and warm days in the sun, to think and be. Matt Myers will be appearing at The Country Bookshop Friday, July 19, at 10:30 a.m. for story time. This event is free and open to the public. (Ages 3-6.)
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas,
by Aaron Blabey
It’s fun with fruit when Brian, the vegetarian piranha, tries to convince his friends to expand their menu options. This wacky title from the author of Pig the Pug is just the perfect way to encourage young readers to step out of the box and try new things. (Ages 3-6.)
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend,
by Stacy McAnulty
There are tons of books out this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and this fun title from North Carolina’s own Stacy McAnulty is a fabulous introduction to lunar love for the youngest readers. With fun facts, awesome illustrations and even a quick quiz, readers will discover how the moon and the Earth cooperate to keep our world spinning like a top. (Ages 3-6.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally