12 June 2020

17 Books to Read This Week

Welcome back to my "new releases in June" series. While more complete lists can be found via a Google search and some buzz books won’t be found here, my lists are curated to my own tastes. Here are the books released this week that interested me most.

Note that release dates have been changing owing to current events. Please double-check availability before ordering or searching your local library.

Contemporary Stories

  • What to Read in JuneThey Say Sarah by Pauline Delabroy-Allard (Other Press). Genre: literary fiction; LGBTQ+; translated. Learned from reviews: The writing promises to be as poetic and passionate as the relationship between a teacher and musician. Fast-paced and captivating story of an all-consuming love. First line: “In the half-light of three a.m., I wake.” Audiobook: no information.
  • 500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan (William Morrow) Genre: women’s fiction; rom-com Learned from reviews: Lissie, a London nurse, is asked to temporarily swap places with Cormack, who provides medical care to a small town in the Scottish Highlands. Though they’ve never met, they end up emailing and texting to discuss patients and more. What happens when they meet in person? First line: “It should have started with ominous dark crows, great murmurations and flutterings, bad omens taking to the sky; with thick storm clouds rolling in, clocks striking thirteen.” Audiobook: Read by Eilidh Beaton (11 hr, 3 min)
  • Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins (Berkley) Genre: general fiction Learned from reviews: A family’s cheery veneer is cracked after John has a stroke; as his wife and daughters take on care-giving responsibilities, their flaws and vulnerabilities are exposed. Humor eases the sharp edges of the more serious issues of family dynamics and living up to others’ expectations. First line: “ ‘You’re engaged? Oh! Uh … huzzah!’ ” Audiobook: Read by Laural Merlington, Amy Rubinate, Xe Sands, & Graham Winton (12 hr, 58 min)
  • The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore (William Morrow) Genre: general fiction; beach read Learned from reviews: A summer of transformation for three people who meet on Block Island. Two women and one man, all in different seasons of their lives, meet, become friends, and try to hold their secrets close. By August’s end, no one is the same. First line: “ ‘It was disconcerting, to see a man cry like that,’ said Bridget Fletcher.” Audiobook: Read by Courtney Patterson (12 hr, 15 min)
Stories for Food Lovers
  • What to Read in JunePizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (Doubleday) Genre: literary fiction; quirky. Learned from reviews: A pregnant, conflicted, grieving pizza-delivery girl becomes obsessed with a stay-at-home mother who orders a weekly pizza for her son. Pregnancy hormones raging, pizza girl struggles to find her future. First line: “Her name was Jenny Hauser and every Wednesday I put pickles on her pizza.” Audiobook: Read by Jeena Yi (5 hr, 33 min)
  • Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman (Sourcebooks Landmark) Genre: contemporary woman’s fiction Learned from reviews: Kate’s life seems to fall apart on the eve of her 40th birthday. Reluctantly, she volunteers at an assisted living home, where she meets the feisty 90-something Miss Cecily. Through their friendship and the older woman’s cookbook, Kate finds a brighter future. First line: “Kate Parker is ravenous.” Audiobook: no information
True Stories
  • What to Read in JuneThe Language of Butterflies by Wendy Williams (Simon & Schuster) Genre: nonfiction; nature. Learned from reviews: Written by a science journalist, this introduces us to the hidden life of the “world’s favorite insect.” We learn about their behavior, life cycle, preservation, and relationship to the ecosystem and to us. First line: “Long ago, when I was twenty, penniless, and hanging in London, looking for something free to do, I drifted into the city’s Tate Gallery—filled with some of the world’s best-known art—and walked straight into a staggering J. M. W. Turner masterpiece.” Audiobook: Read by Angela Brazil (8 hr, 38 min)
  • Honey and Venom by Andrew Coté (Ballantine) Genre: nonfiction; memoir Learned from reviews: Written by a leading urban beekeeper, this memoir takes us through a year of what it’s like to be a honey producer in New York City. With hives on the rooftops of iconic buildings and even on the grounds of the United Nations, Coté shares not only the ins and outs of his family’s business but also a unique look at the city. First line: “I bleed honey.” Audiobook: Read by Andrew Coté (9 hr, 22 min)
  • Rebel Chef by Dominique Crenn with Emma Brockes (Penguin Press) Genre: autobiography; culinary Learned from reviews: I first heard of Crenn through the show Chef’s Table; I was interested in knowing more about her. Here Crenn shares her journey from her native France as the adopted daughter of a politician to her earning three Michelin stars for her San Francisco restaurant. Not an easy trip for anyone, especially a woman. First line: “When I was six months old, I was left in the care of an orphanage near Paris and it was from here, a few months later, that my parents adopted me.” Audiobook: Read by Hope Newhouse (5 hr, 14 min)
  • Cult of Glory by Doug J. Swanson (Viking) Genre: history Learned from reviews: I’ve always been fascinated with the fabled Texas Rangers, especially as they are portrayed in film and fiction. In this examination, investigative reporter Swanson sets the record straight, revealing the sometimes ugly truth of the 200-year-old law-enforcement agency that learned to put a positive spin on their deeds, even before Texas was officially part of the union. First line: “There is not, nor has there ever been, a group quite like the Texas Rangers.” Audiobook: Read by Kaleo Griffith (17 hr, 56 min)
Stories Set in the Past
  • What to Read in JuneBelladonna by Anbara Salam (Berkley) Genre literary fiction; coming of age. Learned from reviews: After high school, two American friends move to Italy to enroll in an art history program. In the late 1950s, Bridget nurtures a secret love for Isabella, but over the course of their freshman year, she learns Isabella has secrets of her own. First line: “It was Isabella who invented the game Dead Nun.” Audiobook: Read by Jill Winternitz (10 hr, 34 min)
  • The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz (Random House) Genre: literary fiction; family Learned from reviews: When Ellie discovers she’s pregnant in the early 1950s, Brick marries her—each giving up dreams of college and leaving their small Ohio town—to raise their daughter together. This novel covers deep themes of family, sacrifice, the women’s movement, secrets, marriage, and lost and found hopes. First line: “Samantha McGinty pressed her cheek against the cold window and exhaled slowly to cloud the glass.” Audiobook: Read by Cassandra Campbell (14 hr, 12 min)
  • Red Sky over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman (Mira) Genre: historical fiction; WWII Learned from reviews: I’m reading this one now. Set on the Big Island of Hawaii and starting on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we meet Lana, who not only must cope with the aftermath of the bombing, but is also grieving her father’s recent death, discovering his secrets, and helping his neighbors. Once I started reading, I was hooked. First line: “When I close my eyes, I still see the fiery glow of lava in Halema‘uma‘u crater.” Audiobook: Read by Jennifer Robideau (10 hr, 1 min)
Stories Set in Other Worlds
  • What to Read in JuneThe Shadow Wand by Laurie Forest (Inkyard Press) Genre: epic fantasy; YA Learned from reviews: This third in the well-love Black Witch Chronicles series is told through multiple points of view. Things I like about this series: flawed but likeable characters and a focus on a grass-roots civil rights–like movement. Note that some readers found the first book to be homophobic, but my take was that the characters grew, learned, and changed. First line: “Edwin Gardner sits on the silk-cushioned chair in a haze of grief.” Audiobook: Read by Julia Whelan (19 hr, 50 min)
  • Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Inkyard Press) Genre: contemporary fantasy; YA Learned from reviews: This is the second in the Harbinger series, continuing the story of Trinity (half human, half angel) and her gargoyle protector, Zayne. They fight demons and try to save the world from their home base in Washington, D.C. Super character development and world building. First line: “I blinked open achy, swollen eyes and stared straight at the pale, translucent face of a ghost.” Audiobook: Read by Lauren Fortgang (16 hr, 38 min)
Stories with a Twist
  • What to Read in JuneStranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle (Park Row) Genre: domestic thriller Learned from reviews: A young woman marries a rich older man; despite gossip and doubters, her life seems blessed. All that begins to unravel when a woman’s body is found floating in the lake by their house. Her husband asks her to lie, an investigative journalist is reviving cold cases, and Charlotte is beginning to question everything. First line: “I untie the dock cleats and shove the boat into water as gray as the sky.” Audiobook: Read by Xe Sands (9 hr, 39 min)
  • Safe by S. K. Barnett (Dutton) Genre: thriller Learned from reviews: Twelve years after her kidnapping, Jenny returns home, welcomed by her grateful family. She knows she is supposed to feel safe now, but is she really? What happened to Jenny during the missing years? Promises to be twisty, captivating (ha!), creepy, and unputdownable. First Line: “The first poster was put up within a day of the disappearance.” Audiobook: Read by Brittany Pressley (9 hr, 4 min)


rhapsodyinbooks 6/12/20, 6:29 AM  

Many of these sound good. I always like Jenny Colgan for a diverting laugh, which is very much needed these days!

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/12/20, 8:14 AM  

I have Daughters of Erietown on my TBR, I’m going to start it today. Safe also intrigues me. I hope all is well with you.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 6/12/20, 9:02 AM  

Thanks for sharing this solid list of new books.

Daryl 6/12/20, 11:06 AM  

always look forward to your reccos

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 6/12/20, 5:30 PM  

WOW, something for every type of reader. So many new to me titles.

Marg 6/13/20, 12:04 AM  

This Jenny Colgan book is on my TBR list soon too!

Tina 6/13/20, 9:13 AM  

You have me sold on Red Sky over Hawaii and Pizza Girl. The mysteries always appela to me so those last two you highighted will go in the old to-read notebook. I slowly make my way through that list.

Jackie McGuinness 6/20/20, 8:39 AM  

Thanks! Just borrowed The Islanders as I read this.
Added 500 Miles, Belladonna, Erietown, Red sky and Rebel Chef to my wish list.

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