Staff Picks 2022 June

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Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah MurdersTrailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles. The savage murders of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park have gone unresolved for over 25 years. In May of 1996, these two young seasoned, highly skilled backcountry leaders who had fallen in love working at a world-renowned outdoor center for women the previous year, were found savagely murdered at their campsite. I never intended to read Trailed, by reporter Kathryn Miles, but great books pull you in. This is how I learned so much more about the true history of women in wild places, why crimes are so much harder to crack in the wilderness, and the painstaking 5 years of research doggedly pursued by a courageous reporter who refused to settle for what seems to be bungled investigations by the National Park Service, FBI, and Virginia state police. Trailed is an important book that I hope circulates far and wide. Kathryn Miles may just yet bring peace to the long suffering families and friends of Julie and Lollie. ~ Nancy Scheemaker
Lucky TurtleLucky Turtle by Bill Roorbach. A tale of young love that's put to the test by centuriesold prejudice and survival of the wilderness. Cindra is 16 when she's sent to a reform camp, where she meets and quickly falls in love with Lucky. Their love story spans decades as they grow and change together after escaping into the outback of Montana evading the local racist cops, and their struggle to survive amongst the elements of nature. Roorbach is masterful at capturing the innocence and overwhelming power of falling in love, combined with his gorgeous visual imagery of the Montana terrain. Definitely a contender for my favorite book of 2022! - Samantha Beitlerbook of 2022! ~ Samantha Beitler
The Summer Place: A NovelThe Summer Place: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner. Weiner is a brilliant chronicler of contemporary life, and this is a novel that follows multiple members of a sprawling blended family as they plan a Cape Cod summer wedding in the summer of 2021. It is an absolute delight. Family drama, long-buried secrets, pandemic frustrations, and a whole lot of love and joy - this novel has it all. ~ Rachel Person
Nora Goes Off ScriptNora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan. Nora is a Romance Channel writer with two kids, nursing the wounds of being left by her layabout husband. Until her latest autobiographical script is arranged to be filmed on location in her backyard "Teahouse.” A Hollywood heartthrob stays over, begins to share the family's daily sunrise routine, and proceeds to win over the variously challenged hearts of Nora and the kids. Kind of too good to be true, right? But when he leaves to do a huge movie project and suddenly "ghosts" them all, how in the world will this one end up with a happy ending? There's only one way to find out. ~ Jon Fine
Dust Off the Bones: A NovelDust Off the Bones: A Novel by Paul Howarth. A continuation of the story of Billy and Tommy McBride, who began their trek down the dusty, bloody trail of their lives in the author's superlative Only Killers and Thieves. The brothers have gone their separate ways, both trying to forget the massacre of a tribe of Aborigines they witnessed as boys. Billy is forced to relive the nightmare with the appearance of an ambitious young lawyer, who is determined to see that Native Police Inspector Noone, an arrogant villain of epic proportions, is brought to justice for ordering the mass killings. The new novel, like its predecessor, vividly recalls an era in Australia when it mirrored the lightning bolt violence that was prevalent in the Old West in America. The prose is, by turns, beautiful and brutal. ~ Alden Graves
Acts of Service: A NovelActs of Service: A Novel by Lillian Fishman. This novel brings up uncomfortable questions about morality and desire. Fishman takes her readers on a journey like no other with her razor-sharp prose and multidimensional characters, who will both infuriate and fascinate. The story is mostly unraveled through Eve’s complex and intellectually stimulating internal dialogue as she struggles with a familiar question: What if what we should want and what we do want don’t add up? This is the perfect new release for readers of Sally Rooney and Ottessa Moshfegh. I loved it. ~ Madison Gallup
Bloomsbury Girls: A NovelBloomsbury Girls: A Novel by Natalie Jenner. Jenner's follow-up to her delightful The Jane Austen Society is another wonderful work of historical fiction for book lovers. Three young women in post-war London work together to try to bring a hide-bound small bookshop (and their often grouchy male co-workers) into the modern era. This book was great fun! ~ Rachel Person
The Cherry RobbersThe Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker. With a writing style comparable to Shirley Jackson and Jeanette Walls, this unforgettable gothic tale has earned a resounding 5 stars from me. The Cherry Robbers is an evocative and deeply emotive exploration of intergenerational trauma and grief, focusing on themes like family and feminism, and featuring some of the most haunting imagery I’ve seen to date. I loved this! ~ Madison Gallup
Malibu Rising: A NovelMalibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The author never fails to write a stunning, character driven story. Told from a multigenerational perspective, we get a look at the early days of the Riva family, as well as the present day happenings of Nina Riva and her siblings as they prepare for their annual end of summer party. Reid’s biggest strength lies in her ability to combine the often contradicting concepts of fame and humility, and the result are characters that are so multifaceted you can’t help but root for all of them. Action-packed and human, this is one you won’t want to miss. ~ Madison Gallup
Beautiful World, Where Are You: A NovelBeautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel by Sally Rooney. never want Rooney’s books to end–the writing is such a delight. This is another deep dive into relationships, and the characters are so well realized that they seep into your thoughts well after you’ve finished the book. But what I appreciated the most from this novel was the philosophizing that Rooney indulges in, via long emails between the two protagonists, making this an extremely satisfying novel. ~ Becky Doherty
The Children on the HillThe Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon. This gothic novel is creepy, monstrous, and wonderfully told, an excellent take on the monster genre. Heavily influenced by Frankenstein, this thriller takes the gloomy atmosphere of a small Vermont town with a dark history and brings forth monsters, dread, and literal and metaphorical shocks. Each chapter strengthens that voice in your head telling you: something's not quite right. And as for the plot twist, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed – you will be delighted! ~ Kirstin Swartz
Two Nights in Lisbon: A NovelTwo Nights in Lisbon: A Novel by Chris Pavone. If a book could embody a poker face, it would be this one. This is an incredible international thriller that keeps you in disbelief. Ariel Pryce wakes up alone in Lisbon, her new husband gone missing. What comes from this is not the traditional black-ops thrill Pavone is known for, but instead a deeply personal story about Ariel, the trouble she is in now, and the problems she ran from in the past. I loved how much this book surprised me, and Ariel is definitely one of my top mystery protagonists of all time now. Read it, and enjoy the ride. ~ Kirstin Swartz
The Retreat: A Novel of SuspenseThe Retreat: A Novel of Suspense by Sherri Smith. This mystery centers around four women who go to a weekend wellness retreat. It is meant to be an escape, but it winds up with a dead body, stalkers, and betrayal. The characters are three-dimensional and flawed. This book is not as predictable as the plot may sound and has a twist ending you might not have seen coming! ~ Kirstin Swartz
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American CityInvisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliot. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrea Elliott shows in the most vivid detail possible the day to day reality of poverty and homelessness through the lives of one family in New York City. It is nearly impossible to encapsulate what this family endures. The focus is on Dasani, the oldest child in the family, as she and her siblings are moved from homeless shelter to public housing to the homes of family members to foster homes. It is a story full of contradictions, heroes and villains, hope and heartbreak. Elliott has written an impossible to ignore masterpiece about this country and our neighbors. ~ Stan Hynds
Eat a Peach: A MemoirEat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang. I'm a big fan of David Chang's restaurant Momofuku and was extremely interested in learning a bit about his backstory. Chang combines a self-deprecating sense of humor with the hard truths of his mental health journey as he discusses the various obstacles of growing up in a Korean-American household, finding your place in a cutthroat profession, and opening up a successful culinary business in NYC. ~ Samantha Beitler
Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New YorkLast Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green. A particularly vicious serial killer was preying upon gay men in New York. Body parts were found stuffed in trash bags in areas around the city. The victims frequented various bars that catered to Manhattan's gay community, and the consensus was that the killer was very likely a patron, too. The police placed a low priority on the investigation into the grisly crimes and, during the years when AIDS was cutting its own swath of death across the city, there was little outcry from the public. This painstakingly researched book about the hunt for a monster is also a concise, fascinating history of the period when gay people cast off the shadows of secrecy and denial and found the voice, the courage, and the political power to demand equality. ~ Alden Graves
The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World WarThe Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War by Malcolm Gladwell. This is Gladwell's first foray into a straight historical subject, yet his trademark incisive revelation of unexpected truths is on full display. I was mortified, actually, physically revolted by the facts revealed here. His thematic elements regarding the beginnings of the Air Force in the years immediately before and then during WWII draw the reader into these “founding aviators” abiding goal to use aerial combat as a significant force for the benefit of all, including combatants, to shorten wars and lessen overall casualties through the use of targeted aerial assault. What actually happened will stay with me forever ~ Jon Fine
The Summer Friend: A MemoirThe Summer Friend: A Memoir by Charles McGrath. Summer memories of youth and adulthood alternate in McGrath's congenial memoir. A new friendship forged later in life and its inevitable conclusion make the summer reminiscences all the more poignant. ~ Mike Hare
River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the NileRiver of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard. Millard brings her vigorous research and readability to the 19th Century quest to find the source of the Nile. Two Englishmen, Richard Burton and John Speke, collaborated, then competed with each other in the search, where the raw beauty and danger of the unexplored African subcontinent is palpable, and where survival, and sanity, are not guaranteed. ~ Mike Hare