Five Book Friday!

With June starting in just a few short hours, dear patrons, it’s time to start celebrating all that summer in New England has to offer.  And if you’re looking for some more fun things to celebrate, here are some fun (and some downright quirky) days for you to plan a party!

June 4: Old Maid’s Day: Founded in 1948  by Marion Richards of Jeffersonville, Pennsylvania, this day was intended to counter the high rate of weddings in the month of June with a celebration of the accomplishments of unmarried women.

June 9: National Donald Duck Day: In honor of the first appearance the sailor-suited Disney Duck in the 1934 film The Wise Little Hen.  In LA Mayor Tom Bradley proclaimed the first National Donald Duck Day.  In return, Donald himself gave the city a silver statue of himself as a gift in memory of the big day!

June 14: National Strawberry Shortcake Day: In addition to flag day, this is also apparently a day to celebrate (and savor) a great summertime desert!  Although we couldn’t locate the origins of National Strawberry Shortcake Day, it appears that you can share your own experiences and celebrations with the hashtag #StrawberryShortcakeDay.

June 19: Juneteenth: It should be a national holiday, but until it is, we’ll be advocating a commemoration of official end of the institution of slavery in the United States. The celebration originated in Texas when Major General Gordon Granger made a public declaration in Galveston, Texas, that according to General Orders, Number 3, the Civil War was over and all slaves were now freed.  The long legacy of slavery remains very much a part of the US’s past and present, but this day marks an important milestone in American history nonetheless.

June 21: The First Day of Summer: In the Northern Hemisphere,  the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight.  A day of religious, cultural, and social significance, this is the official beginning of a period of long days and (hopefully) new adventures!  We wish you all a very happy summer!

And now…on to the books (which is always a reason to celebrate!)

RebelBeverly Jenkins is a queen of the romance genre, and her new releases are always a cause for celebration.  In this first book in her Women Who Dare series, Jenkins introduces us to Valinda Lacy, whose mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq. As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.  Jenkins doesn’t shy away from the difficult periods of American history, or the very real struggles of Black men and women in the period she discusses, but those elements only enrich her stories with real humanity, and make the powerful, redemptive love stories at their heart that much more important!  Library Journal loved this book, celebrating how “Post–Civil War New Orleans comes to violent life in the hands of a veteran writer and delivers a vibrant, instructive, totally romantic historical tale that will resonate with many readers today. Beautifully done.”

Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American ImaginationDr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined childhoods for generations. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites, and his wit endlessly enjoyable. Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small.  Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side.  He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books.  Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.  In this fascinating biography. Brian Jay Jones gives us a glimpse into the many sides of Geisel’s character and artistry, allowing his adoring readers to see him as a well-rounded, complex, and fascinating individual.  NPR waxed rhapsodical about this book, declaring that Jones’ work is “perhaps the most complete, multidimensional look at the life of one of the most beloved authors and illustrators of our time…Jones goes above and beyond to contextualize Geisel in the larger picture at every moment of his life. [A] fascinating read that discusses the origin of the humorous, simple rhymes, bizarre creatures, and magic that characterized Geisel’s books while also showing the author’s more radical side as an unemployed wanderer who abandoned his doctoral studies, a successful advertising man, and a political cartoonist.”

MiddlegameSeanan McGuire’s imagination is seemingly endless, which is phenomenal news for her fans!  In this new stand-alone novel, we meet Roger–skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.  There is also Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realize it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.  And finally, there is Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.  Fans of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians will be pleased to hear that McGuire’s book is drawing lots of favorable comparisons to that series, and Booklist called it “an ambitious piece of world building from a master of the craft . . . thoroughly engaging.”

Deep Past: Eugene Linden’s book will appeal to science fiction readers and thriller fans alike, providing one of those intriguing summertime escapes we all crave at times. A routine dig in Kazakhstan takes a radical turn for thirty-two-year-old anthropologist Claire Knowland when a stranger turns up at the site with a bizarre find from a remote section of the desolate Kazakh Steppe. Her initial skepticism of this mysterious discovery gives way to a realization that the find will shake the very foundations of our understanding of evolution and intelligence.  Corrupt politics of Kazakhstan force Claire to take reckless chances with the discovery.  Among the allies she gathers in her fight to save herself and bring the discovery to light is Sergei Anachev, a brilliant but enigmatic Russian geologist who becomes her unlikely protector even as he deals with his own unknown crisis. Ultimately, Claire finds herself fighting not just for the discovery and her academic reputation, but for her very life as great power conflict engulfs the unstable region and an unscrupulous oligarch attempts to take advantage of the chaos. Linden himself has written several books on human evolution, so this is book, in the word of Lee Child (who wrote a blurb for it), is “An excellent thriller with real meat on the bones … makes you think as well as sweat.”

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss: Rajeev Balasubramanyam has given us a delightful new curmudgeon to meet in this novel about finding ourselves in a world that seems to be moving too fast for introspection. Professor Chandra is an internationally renowned economist, divorced father of three (quite frankly baffling) children, recent victim of a bicycle hit-and-run—but so much more than the sum of his parts. In the moments after the accident, Professor Chandra doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes but his life’s work. He’s just narrowly missed the Nobel Prize (again), and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas. All this work. All this success. All this stress. It’s killing him. He needs to take a break, start enjoying himself. In short, says his doctor, he should follow his bliss. Professor Chandra doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. A sensational story that manages to balance introspection and humor with elegance, Library Journal declared this book a “joyful, heartwarming novel . . . Balasubramanyam invests it with compassion, humor, and kindness. . . . Recommended for anyone looking for a satisfying, uplifting read.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

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