Jubilant July Staff Picks
Jane and Marnie, best friends since childhood, share everything. They talk to each other daily even through University. Becoming roommates afterwards, they are completely enmeshed in each other’s lives. When Marnie marries a man that Jane doesn’t like, the lies begin. A really fast-paced psychological thriller, the book is cleverly separated by each lie. When does friendship go too far? Are internet news junkies really journalists? Lots of clever questions and plotlines are explored in this fast-paced read.
I chose this book by its cover, expecting a cheesy, quick read. Instead, I experienced a tantalizing mystery, taking me through twists and turns during the North Carolina’s 1940’s. Morgan Christopher, a striving art student but in prison, is given a “deal” she can’t refuse; restore a mural that was created nearly 80 years ago in exchange for an early prison release. The mural tells the story of Anna Dale who lived amidst racism, danger, and even murder. This opportunity became a life-changer for Morgan.
Everyone needs a good getaway book and this is very much a beach read. This is the story of 2 authors that re-meet cute, sort of. They are both in very different places in their lives the second time around, but decide that they should each write the others genres. While many female authors write literary fiction, there aren't very many male authors that write romance. They each have to relearn how to write with the other's guidance.
This is a lot of fun to read and just shake your head at them
If you liked this, you should read
The Bromance Book Club
Available in Audio and Ebook
This book is the best feel good book I’ve read in recent memory. Alex and Henry are the First Son of the United States and the second Prince of England respectively, and they are at odds. To say the least. However, when they are forced together via a $75,000 cake incident, Alex and Henry realize they have more in common than they ever thought. As they slowly grow closer, the reader gets an insight to a presidential reelection campaign, and the inner workings of Buckingham Palace. The “White House Trio” of Alex, June, and Nora, is a beautiful example of friendship and solidarity in the face of hardship, and love conquering all. This is the perfect read to celebrate PRIDE even after pride month has ended. It is the best romance and, I would argue, the best debut novel that came out of 2019! It’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Also read Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors.
Joan is searching, has been searching for a year, for her lost husband. Victor disappeared after they had a fight about selling her land. After a night of heavy drinking and family tension, Joan finds Victor in a preacher’s tent in a Wal-Mart parking lot with no memory and a new persona. After Victor leaves with the traveling church, Joan vows to get the love of her life back from whatever has overcome him. She turns to her nephew, Zeus, and Ajean, one of the few folks in her community who remember the old traditions stripped from her people, for help.
Dimaline builds suspense and emotion like a tidal wave. You see everything drawing back and together with a sense of dread and wait for it to come crashing over you. A truly excellent suspense novel.
Available in Audio
I can’t applaud the bravery of Sue Monk Kidd on writing this book enough. She has received some criticism for daring to write about Jesus as a man and the possibility that he was married. This is actually not far fetched according to many scholars on Jesus. Ana is a rebellious, educated, spirited woman in her time. Risking her life oftentimes to simply not conform. She is the main character of the story and is brilliantly realized through Sue Monk Kidd’s amazing rich writing. Jesus is really a smaller character in this amazing book. There is a reason it is on the bestseller table. Great Book!
Would you rather have perfect bliss for only three days or have a solid-but-dull relationship all year long? Melanie and Jake are involved in a clandestine relationship over the course of 2 decades, where they meet for one long weekend each year, then part with no texts, phone calls, emails, until the following year rolls along. Can this Same-Time-Next-Year arrangement possibly save a modern marriage? Escape your Corona-Stress summer and delve into this romantic but unconventional love story, while you enjoy the nostalgic journey through the 90’s and early 20’s.
Rebecca Serle writes in a way that cuts right to the core of me, and every time I read one of her books I’m reminded of the fact. The Dinner List begins with Sabrina walking into her birthday dinner to find her list sitting at the table. You know the list? The one with the five people living or dead you would like to have dinner with? Sabrina’s includes her oldest friend, a favorite professor, the father she never knew, Audrey Hepburn herself, and a tragic love. From 8 to midnight, wine is drunk and stories are exchanged. Painful truths are brought to light, and life is revealed in all of its beautiful, funny, painful glory. You can’t stay the same forever, and dwelling in your pain will not necessarily help you understand it. Life goes on whether or not you move with it. Eventually we all have to make a choice. Also read Serle’s other novel, In Five Years, which rocked my world on its axis.
MacLaughlin masterfully retells women’s stories from Ovid’s mythologies. Her retellings humanize the women that have less than a line devoted to them. Sometimes angry, sometimes hilarious, this book is for anyone who loves Greek mythology.
Ready to be transported to the magical pink city Jaipur in the 1950's. This book will take you there and into a world of wealth, poverty, class, and sexism. Lakshmi at just 17 years old escapes an abusive marriage and runs to Jaipur where she reinvents herself and becomes quite successful. The themes in this book may sound dark and intense but the story is so uplifting that those topics become interesting obstacles not devastation. Pregnancy, abortion, eastern old medicine vs new western medicine, domestic violence, classism all set in 1950's India! So well done. Jaipur is definitely on my bucket list now!
Available in Audio and Ebook
Rodham is Curtis Sittenfeld's newest alternative historical fiction. This one explores what the American political landscape might look like if Hillary Rodham had not married Bill Clinton. From her early days as a law student to now, regardless of which side of the political spectrum one falls on, there is no denying that Hillary Rodham has been an incredibly influential figure in American government. So, what would her legacy have been had Clinton never been attached to her name? Sittenfeld explores Hillary as a powerhouse lawyer and advocate, who is a hurricane of potential from the beginning. Obviously this is a fictionalized version of Secretary Clinton, but she is as smart and conflicted and driven as one might expect, and Sittenfeld's writing is as excellent as her legions of fans have come to expect. Personally I have always been interested in how our society seems to define women, not by their own accomplishments, but by their relationships with the men in their lives, right down to their names. If you share this curiosity, this is a great book for you. If you're interested in the sequences of events one action can set off and the butterfly effect thereafter, this is a good book for you. Curtis Sittenfeld also has an excellent modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice entitled 'Eligible' that's worth reading.
When an American Oil Company, Pexton, arrives in a small village in Ghana, the life of the Africans changes drastically. Toxic waste appears in the once clean river, dirt inhabits the air, poison appears in well water and many people, mostly children, die. Nevertheless, for 30 years Pexton continuously denies danger. This fictional story, which could well be a true one, shows what the world of greed can impose on a peaceful community. The residents of Kosawa are dying to promote American profit, and their fight for change runs out of patience. As I read this story, I could feel the frustration of these people fighting for change, similar to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Available in Audio
This psychological thriller is actually written by sisters who combine their styles to produce a really fast fun thriller. Joanne has been displaced by Piper, the new attractive, mysterious, young woman in Theo's life. Fearing for the safety of the children Joanne begins to investigate Piper's past only to discover she has changed her name after losing 2 husbands in tragic "accidents". Twists and turns abound! Written from Piper's perspective alternating to Joanne's perspective moves this novel along.
Sex and Vanity is the new novel from Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan. It is so much fun! What's more fun than laughing at crazy rich people? Crazy rich people laughing at themselves? Maybe. The new story revolves around the crazy rich Asians of America instead of Singapore. The descriptions of all the places are beautiful, and of course just reading it made me feel underdressed. I ended this one just wanting to sit out on the street with a coffee looking my most fabulous. Even the stressful bits are entertaining. This book was everything I was hoping it'd be. Lucie, the main character, is dynamic, delightful, and endearing, but definitely a touch naive. Her cousin Charlotte has such a good character arc. Cecil makes me want to rage quit and punch a baby. George is mysterious, sexy, and awesome. Rosemary is quirky and smart and forgiving. Marian is #momgoals. Sex and Vanity holds up to the legacy of CRA but doesn't double down on the same storylines (but there are some fun crossover mentions!) There are hilarious name drops through the whole thing, and a great little 'who's who' on every new character as they're introduced. It holds up the whole tragic central theme/conflict within the story and the characters' lives of "it's not who you are, it's who your family is." Definitely pick one up. I'm already dying for part two!
Available in Audio and Ebook
If you enjoyed The Glass Castle or Educated, definitely add this book to your list. David who grows up as a Cherokee on Navajo reservations in New Mexico and eventually relocated to Washington DC is fascinating. Crow and his two siblings are raised by a violent, homicidal father who talked his way out of San Quentin prison. While there his father was tested and although never receiving a formal education he ranked as genius IQ. He did not use his intelligence for good. Brutal at times but in the end very uplifting.
Available in Audio
If you wonder what the Black Lives Matter is all about, then you MUST read this book! And if this true account doesn't fill you with rage, then you must not be breathing! I am irate! I am shaken to the core by the unfairness of our criminal justice system, and how unaware I was of the extent of this disparity.
Bryan Stevenson, a young, Black, intelligent, passionate lawyer keeps beating the drum of justice, defending those most desperate; poor people of color, men, women, children and those on Death Row. The account of Stevenson's many cases clearly shows how broken and corrupt up our legal system is. A guilty White man has a better chance that an innocent Black man.
This book has been made into a movie, which I have not seen yet, but the book in itself is very powerful, a MUST read!
Available in Audio and Ebook
Learn the stories of the victims of Jack the Ripper. In this true story you will learn how each and every one of the girls lived up until the day they were killed. I found this book beautifully sad and enveloping all wrapped in one. I had heard stories about these women, but never knew anything until I read this book.
I learned so much about the mysterious Amish culture as I devoured this nightmare with no escape! Author Misty Griffin exposes the sexual assault and child abuse that runs rampant in an Amish religious community that is steeped in secrecy. She should know! She endured this living hell, and is intent to raise awareness of this abusive situation. The Amish don’t consider themselves citizens of any country, and thus do not live by the rules of the land. Already, the result of her book is making a difference in law enforcement and public safety.
Written in prose, this story for teens gives space to think about sudden loss, forgiveness, and unlikely bonds.
Camino from Dominican Republic
Yahaira from New York City
Secrets and lies unfold
I enjoyed this powerful novel by the author of Poet X.
Ben has been kicked out of their home after coming out as nonbinary. Cold, shocked, lonely, they call Hannah, the sister they haven't seen in 10 years. As Ben starts to adjust to this new life, Nathan comes barreling in to lead them through school, friendships, and their growth as a person navigating this world.
I Wish You All the Best is the queer story I didn't know that I needed. It is lovely, heartbreaking, and reaffirming. Watching Ben grow as a person throughout this book is cathartic. It is an excellent book that brings me much joy and I hope it brings you joy as well.
Available in Audio
Superman Smashes the Klan is an original take on a classic Superman story. Luen Yang takes Clark Kent's alien-ness and juxtaposes it to the Lee family's outsider status as a Chinese family in the mostly white suburbs of Metropolis. When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross in the Lee's front yard, Superman has to confront the reality of racism and xenophobia in Metropolis and himself.
I really enjoyed this book and the art style. Gurihiru's illustration lends this graphic novel a sort of innocence that disarms the reader and forces them to engage with potentially uncomfortable material.
This book is perfect if you have a kid that is struggling with anxiety. It shows that it’s okay to be afraid, and it’s okay to have trouble expressing yourself. It shows that there are ways to be yourself even if you can’t show it at first. I loved this book and would definitely recommend it as a way to teach kids to cope with anxiety, as well as teach kids what it’s like to have anxiety because these are feelings not every kid understands.