Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meg's Picks: June 2015, part 2

I'm so glad you're back for more, because I have more titles to share that just may hit the top of your reading list this summer. Intrigued? Then let me end the suspense--here are the rest of my picks from the June fiction titles.

The Mountain Story, by Lori Lansens. I am a huge fan of Lansens. Do you have a novelist who you wish would write faster/publish more often because you enjoy their books so much, but at the same time you don't want them to publish too often for fear of the books becoming rushed and less special? That is how I feel about Lansens's books. (New to Lori Lansens? I highly recommend The Girls, while you wait for her newest novel.)
Speaking of said latest novel... On the morning of Wolf Truly’s eighteenth birthday, he boards the first cable car to head up the mountains just a few miles from his sun-bleached trailer home in the desert community outside of Palm Springs. Armed with nothing but the clothes on his back, Wolf’s intention that morning was to give up on life—specifically at the mountain site of his best friend’s tragic accident one year ago. But on that shaky ride up the mountain, fate intervenes and Wolf meets three women that will leave an indelible imprint on the rest of his life. Through a series of missteps, the four wind up lost and stranded among the forested cliffs—in sight of the desert city below, but unable to find a way down. As the days pass without rescue, we come to learn how each of them came to be on the mountain that morning. And as their situation shifts from misadventure to nightmare, the lost hikers forge an inextricable bond, pushing themselves, and each other, beyond their limits. For Lansens fans, obviously, but also for those who enjoyed John Krakauer's Into the Wild or Cheryl Strayed's Wild (recently adapted for film starring Reese Witherspoon).

Whispering Shadows, by Jan-Phillip Sendker. I'm a bit late to the game here because, as will happen in publishing, this novel by bestselling author Sendker (The Art of Hearing Heartbeats) was bumped up and instead of being published in June as scheduled, it was actually published in April. Apologies for missing it! This is the first in a new trilogy, following American expat Paul Leibovitz, once an ambitious advisor, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after living for nearly thirty years in Hong Kong, personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout. Now Paul is living as a recluse on an outlying island of Hong Kong. When he makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse, his life is thrown into turmoil. Less than twenty-four hours later, Elizabeth’s son is found dead in Shenzhen, and Paul, invigorated by a newfound purpose, sets out to investigate the murder on his own. Described as part crime thriller, part love story, I have a feeling book clubs will want to add this to their lists in coming months.

The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler. Simon Watson lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a travelling carnival and seldom calls. On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. The book tells the story of two doomed lovers who were part of a travelling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes and sketches. He is fascinated, yet as he reads Simon becomes increasingly unnerved. Why do so many women in his family drown on 24th July? And could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in years, risk the same terrible fate? I'm recommending this to fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus or Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

The Truth According To Us, by Annie Barrows. Barrows follows up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with a small-town story filled with big characters. In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck's influential father cuts her off and insists she find work with the New Deal program the Federal Writer's Project. Layla is sent to pen the history of a remote mill town in West Virginia and takes up lodging with the unconventional Romeyn family, one of whom is keen to help her uncover buried family and town secrets. Recommended for fans of Barrows's previous novel, as well as for fans of authors like Lee Smith, Rachel Joyce and Gabrielle Zevin.

The Sunken Cathedral, by Kate Walbert. Walbert, National Book Award nominee and author of the critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling novel A Short History of Women, returns here with a deceptively simple novel in stories, enriched with footnotes. The result is a multidimensional portrait of two 80-something widows in New York's Chelsea neighborhood venturing outside their comfort zone to take an art class. Simone and Marie, both French survivors of WWII, have been friends since meeting as young mothers on a Brooklyn playground. Neighbors, family, art students, and school administrators provide a supporting cast whose hopes and disappointments, routines and crises, pleasures, and fears converge to form an ode to New York City, a riff on aging, and a discourse on living with a vague fear of impending catastrophe.

I'll be back next Thursday to share what I've been reading this month. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday weekend, and happy reading!

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