Jaunty June Staff Picks
Jonesing for a jubilant jaunt through pages? June's staff picks might have what you are looking for!
Looking for a fun light read, this a really fun read. I actually laughed out loud in parts. A unique delivery, every chapter is a letter that struggling artist Roxy writes to her to her current roommate and ex boyfriend Everett. They live in funky Austen and are resisting the commercialization of the artsy community. Reminded me a lot of Boulder many years ago. Light, funny escapism!
Lakshmi is the most highly requested henna artist in Jaipur, India. During her sessions, as she learns the secrets of the wealthy women she serves, Lakshmi becomes their confidante, and is seen as much more than a henna artist. Lakshmi becomes a healer of everything feminine, providing contraceptive teas, mystical conception potions and even abortion sages; whatever is needed to help Indian women fulfill their desires. This intriguing story, full of Indian culture, takes place in 1955, only several years after the caste system was outlawed by rule, but in reality very much alive!
Gideon the Ninth is everything I ever wanted in a lesbian necromantic space opera and then some, with the best blurbs I’ve ever seen printed on a book to boot. It is dark and horrifying and I wanted to be right in the middle of every little bit of the story. When the necromancers and their cavaliers of the nine houses arrive to fight for the privilege of becoming a deathless Lyctor in service of the Emperor Undying, you think you know how things are going to go down. You are wrong. Then you’re wrong again. Gideon is a foul-mouthed, willful, surprisingly relatable indentured servant of The Ninth House thrust into the role of a cavalier with no ceremony. Harrowhawk is the sullen, cruel, and dismissive heir to The Ninth House called by her emperor to serve. And The Ninth House itself? Well, it’s holding a secret.
You think you know these characters, but they keep surprising you in the best and most horrific ways. The scenery is dark and beautiful and evocative. You can smell the musty wood of the floors and feel the bone dust swirling in front of your face. As you read, you are being haunted by an unknown element, but you are also traveling this story with Gideon and Harrow, and their banter and barbs keep you safe.
The next harrowing installment is coming August 2020, and you couldn’t keep me away if you killed me.
This collection of short stories blows my mind, present tense. It continues to blow my mind well after reading this superb collection. Lui crafts futures that are eerily close to our present. Thoughts and Prayers is an especially poignant story about the weaponization of memory and technology. If you enjoy thinking about the future, whatever joy or tragedy that might entail, this is the book for you.
The Eighth Life is a sweeping tale about (mostly) 3 things: a family, a country, and a chocolate recipe. We are introduced to the family at the start of the Russian Revolution, with matriarch Stasia entering into a promising but ultimately disappointing marriage to a Red Soldier. Through her eyes, we see the transformation of her home country of Georgia, and the broader region, under the cruel communist regime. Stasia’s father, a renowned chocolatier under the old regime, passed along his highly secretive and highly addictive hot chocolate recipe to his daughter upon her marriage, making her swear to only make it under the strictest discretion. Throughout the book, the hot chocolate’s uplifting yet addictive powers provide comfort and healing to some, and despair and ruin to others. Considering this book is over 900 pages long, the chocolate recipe acts as a poignant reminder that the past is never as far away as we think.
This book was originally written in German, but the English translation has lost none of Haratischvili’s dryly poetic style, which reminds me of authors like Sylvia Plath and F. Scott Fitzgerald, both quaintly antiquated and yet strangely timeless. You may find this book to be a timely reminder that when the world outside is falling apart, somehow, life goes on.
Fans of Lolita will probably find this novel fascinating. Based in the heart of the #MeToo movement the story follows a former student that from her perspective had a passionate love affair with her boarding school English teacher at just 14 years old. As the teacher is outed and pursued by other students to face consequences of his behavior, the now 24 year old Vanessa must confront her perceptions. This book is so well written from Vanessa’s perspective the author has repeatedly had to declare that this is not a biography. This novel is dark, complex, moving, riveting and will have you thinking about it long after you set it down.
- Kim B.
One never knows where life will take you. What is waiting around the corner? Antonia Yega, a retired University professor, is learning how to live with “the hole in her heart” after her husband suddenly dies. Antonia is one of four sisters originally from the Dominican Republic. She has strong ties to her Latina sisterhood, who together endure commotion, heartbreak, and healing. The novel provides thought-provoking issues of love, loss, the dynamics between the complex relations of sisterhood, immigration, and the undocumented.
This is a story of sadness, humor, and a woman who needs to find a new way forward. This short novel packs a lot of thinking into it, and will stay with you once the pages are closed.
When curious Carly decides to look into the never solved disappearance of her beautiful aunt in 1982, she finds herself living where her aunt did and working at the creepy hotel her aunt also worked on the night shift. This is a spooky murder mystery. Part ghost story, part serial killer pursuit, part detective noir, this novel is a page turner. Be warned the creaks and groans in your own home may frighten you while reading this spooky novel.
Three strong, fearless women from three countries (India, Italy, Canada) are able to “move mountains” to overcome what life has dealt them. Although each woman navigates her own culture and socio-economic status, their stories intersect and overlap, like a braid. This power-house story made me think about all the ways to be a woman, and realize that although we live across borders, cultures and circumstances, there is an invisible unity that we women possess. This would be a terrific book-club choice. There is so much to discuss!
For fans of bookstores and classic murder mysteries, this is the book for you! An indie bookstore bookseller writes a list of, in his opinion, the eight perfect literary murders. Subsequently someone appears to be committing murders straight off his list! Of course, Agatha Christie is in the list and true to her brilliant lead this book has genius plot twists. Great fun, fast read and you may come away with eight more must read murder mysteries to add to your stack of books!
Ana is a 10 year old when the Croatian War of Independence breaks out in the 1990’s. After watching her parents get murdered, Anna is the one who survived. She becomes a child soldier, until she is rescued by UN Peacekeepers, who arrange an adoption for her in the U.S. Ten years later, Ana is a student at a New York university, and realizes that all the violence of her past has been bottled up inside her head for a decade. The guilt of surviving the nightmare still haunts her dreams. When Ana returns to visit her homeland, her past is nearly as cathartic for the reader as it is for Ana.
This unforgettable story illustrates the horrifying period of time in the Balkan States and portrays the trauma experienced by a child growing up in a war zone. War forever changes the life of the individual.
I enjoyed Eight Perfect Murders so much that I decided to give Swanson another go. I was not disappointed. Before She Knew Him just came out in paperback in February. When her husband Loyd moved into a nice neighborhood outside Boston. Hen suspects her new next-door neighbor may be a serial killer. Is her bipolar disorder making her paranoid or is she right? Terrific psychological thriller with many twists and turns. Fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware will love Peter Swanson. Count me a fan.
Paola Cognetti plans to celebrate his farewell to youth (turning 40) by exploring the lost culture of Tibet in the Himalayas. The result is this story, a journal-of self-discovery. With prayer flags and Namaste, “calm” permeates his journal as he tries to find meaning in the things he sees and doesn’t see. If you are a mountain hiker, or just enjoy being with nature, you’ll love this inspirational book.
What can I say? I like reading about people doing hard things. I like reading about women growing into confident, competent, badasses. I like reading about the foodservice industry because I’ve worked in it and let me tell you, it’s crazy. And Wine Girl covers it. Victoria James’ story doesn’t start with restaurants though-it starts with family. Good foodie books usually do, because they understand the ties between food and human connection. There’s a reason “wine and dine” is a phrase that exists. Wine Girl journeys through graveyard shifts, manual labor, and weeded dining rooms. The walk from the family kitchen to the NYC fine dining scene is filled with diner jobs, sexism, and good old fashioned resilience, and rarely does Victoria slow up and shout, “Corner! Sharp!” when about to come at you with some of her finer points (knife pun.) If you start the book with minimal wine knowledge, you’ll probably learn a thing or two. If you start only knowing how to slap a bag, you definitely will. Ultimately, it’s a book about moxie and gumption, which are characteristics we should all try to emulate. It’s about love, and who doesn’t want that? I’d compare it to Anthony Bourdain’s writing, or Jeff Gordinier’s Hungry, but I liked Wine Girl in a much more personal manner.
Action presidents is a great series for anyone interested in history no matter the age. In #1 George Washington the author takes you through Washington’s entire life, not just his successes. Impressively even though the book is presented as a comic the facts are cited, and any myths or uncertain events are clearly shown for the reader. I learned more about Washington in this book than I did throughout High School and College as a History Major. If you or your child is interested in American history at all this book is for them. It is factual, fun, and doesn’t gloss over our founding father’s shortcomings without falling into the 20/20 trap of judgment. 10/10.
The Dimwood Forest series has been one of my favorites since childhood. Avi is a prolific writer but by far his most well known and loved is this series with its main character Poppy the mouse. Over 20 years ago Avi introduced us to Poppy and Ragweed, but until now we had no idea how the two met, now, by popular demand Avi has given us the answer. Follow Ragweed as he meets and tries to save Poppy from a sticky situation, all the while trying to avoid the attention of a naive young raccoon named Lotar. Adventure, danger, and self-discovery awaits in Ragweed and Poppy, and I highly recommend it.
This a story about faith. Not just what you believe in but having faith in yourself no matter what the world throws at you. While this book may hit closer to home now that we have had our own pandemic, this is a must-read. This story was written from two sisters’ points of view but not from the first person. I really liked this author’s writing style and how she carried the story along.
If you liked this, you should read:
The Grace Year
In this world with a French twist and feel, Sabine and Ailesse are both from a great line of Leurress. Women who lure the dead to the gates of the beyond.
Bastien is on a mission to kill the Bone Crier that killed his father years ago.
As each learns more about the others, the three become entwined in each other to the point of if someone dies it will greatly affect the others. This is told from each of the three’s point of view, and is a riveting read of a magical siren and soul-ferrie, and her soulmate. But there is so much more.
I really liked Cosimano’s last novel Holding Smoke!! Each of her books have very unique plots and twists that you don’t see coming. Seasons of the Storm is no different.
In Seasons of the Storm, many of her characters have already faced death and chose to have another chance at life. But not life as they know it, life in the house of Chronos (Father Time) and Gaia (Mother Earth). They have been given the chance to be reborn as a season. But each season must hunt and kill the previous season year after year. But what happens when they want out? Death again? Or the chance to be with someone they love?
If you liked this, you should read:
The Chaos of Stars by Kierstin White
The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1) by Kiersten White
Deka strives to be the same as everyone else, in part because she is visibly and intuitively different from all of her peers. She lives by the doctrines set for women by her society, she is humble, meek, and subservient to the men around her. As a blood ceremony to prove purity looms, she prays for the red blood that will mark her as a worthy and eligible woman.
Forna develops her characters beautifully. We see Deka and her compatriots grow emotionally and intellectually into fully realized people through the course of the book. It mirrors the growth so many folks have needed to go through to accept and love themselves in a society that labels them monsters. This is a great adventure, perfect for folks who enjoyed The Hunger Games, Children of Blood and Bone, or The Divergent series.
This is a cute book listing beautiful things about our planet and small things we can do to keep it around. It focuses on reusing and recycling in a way that kids can understand, like how you can sew up a pair of socks instead of buying a new pair, or how you can make grocery bags in to mats. The illustrations are beautiful and interactive, perfect for keeping a kid interested.
Abigale want’s a pet for her birthday, and not just any pet! Abigale adopts a tree and names him Fido. This is a cute book about caring and adapting. The illustrations are great at telling the story in congruence with the words.
This is a beautiful poem paired with beautiful drawings. If you or your child loves words and the art of them, this is the perfect book for you.
I was fortunate to be nearly an adult when I began to witness my grandfather’s onset of dementia. However, I don’t know how I would have felt if I had witnessed his decline as a young child. I think this book is a very sweet story about a little boy named Billy and his wonderful Nana. He begins to realize that Nana doesn’t always remember things, but his mother helps him understand that Nana just needs some help remembering sometimes. I like that they pepper a little bit of Spanish in the book as well, just like many bilingual households. The best part is that the author includes helpful tips on how to address dementia with children. Bonus? Looks like there’s a tasty cherry empanada recipe at the end as well.
“From self-confidence grows compassion, and from compassion strength blooms.”
Sometimes I feel that our society lacks a little compassion for others. In this book, the Dalai Lama talks about his humble beginnings where his mother planted a seed of compassion in him. He gives examples about how a little kindness goes a long way. By planting a seed of compassion, nourishing it, and protecting it, the world will be a better place.