Every year, we at the Free For All ask the Peabody Library staff about the books, films, and music recordings that they would like to recommend to you for your summer reading/viewing/listening pleasure, and every year, we are delighted with the variety, the diversity, and the genuinely excellent recommendations that we receive. We will be offering suggestions over the course of the summer, beloved patrons, in the hopes of helping you find a new favorite story to savor over the coming summer months. Feel free to share your favorites with us, as well! As our public services desk model has changed, you’ll note the headings on our recommendations has changed, as well. Please feel free to speak with any Library staff member about finding a book to brighten your summer.
From the Public Service Desk:
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll: When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder. Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates. Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret. Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.
From Our Staff: Jessica Knoll’s book works on a number of levels: it’s a salacious, vicious skewering of reality-tv and the culture it has created. It’s a thought-provoking critique of ‘sisterhood’ and feminism. It also turns into a compelling whodunit that will make you want to re-read the book just to pick up all the little clues and hints you might have missed. It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did, I was completely hooked!
Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country and Other Stories by Chavisa Woods: These stories paint a vivid image of people living on the fringes in America, people who don’t do what you might expect them to. Not stories of triumph over adversity, but something completely other. Described in language that is brilliantly sardonic, Woods’s characters return repeatedly to places where they don’t belong—often the places where they were born. In “Zombie,” a coming-of-age story like no other, two young girls find friendship with a mysterious woman in the local cemetery. “Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street” describes a lesbian couple trying to repair their relationship by dropping acid at a Mensa party. In “A New Mohawk,” a man in romantic pursuit of a female political activist becomes inadvertently much more familiar with the Palestine/Israel conflict than anyone would have thought possible. And in the title story, Woods brings us into the mind of a queer goth teenager who faces ostracism from her small-town evangelical church. This is fiction that is fresh and of the moment, even as it is timeless.
From Our Staff: There are so many quotable sentences in this book.
From the West Branch:
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever. The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
From Our Staff: Excellent bisexual representation, diverse character cast; a bisexual teenager works through realizing she’s not exclusively attracted to girls and what her future will be like while helping her pregnant sister as they struggle through poverty and personal relationships in coastal Mississippi. A lovely story of self-acceptance and recognition of self potential.
From the Children’s Room:
Dark Dawn Over Steep House by M.R.C Kasasian: At the opening of this fifth installment of the Gower Street Detective series, 125 Gower Street, the residence of Sidney Grice, London’s foremost personal detective, and his ward March Middleton, is at peace. Midnight discussions between the great man and his charge have led to a harmony unseen in these hallowed halls since the great frog disaster of 1878. But harmony cannot last for long. A knock on the door brings mystery and murder once more to their home. A mystery that involves a Prussian Count, two damsels in distress, a Chinaman from Wales, a gangster looking for love, and the shadowy ruin of a once-loved family home, Steep House . . .
From Our Staff: These books are full of dry wit, a solid eye for detail and a great heroine who’s not afraid to tell it like it is. Kasasian doesn’t shy away from gory details, though, so they’re not necessarily for the faint of heart. But if you like Sherlock Holmes, these books are likely to be a hit. This installment has March and Sidney chasing down a man who’s attacking women in London. A great, timely topic even though it’s set in the 1800s.
Until next week, beloved patrons, enjoy the summer!