June 2014 LibraryReads Picks

May 13, 2014

The LibraryReads! list of librarian favorites for books to be published in June includes the sample of three below.  We own the print titles and I’ve tried to round out the audiobook titles if we didn’t own them already.  If you are unfamiliar with LibraryReads! there is a link to their site FAQ’s here.  The list is succinct and provides excellent examples of titles that may be bestsellers anyway (like China Dolls) or that may fly just a bit under the radar and therefore ripe for hand selling (like Elizabeth is Misssing and the Ice Cream Queen).

 

Elizabeth Is MissingHealey, Emma. Elizabeth is Missing. Harper, 6/10/14.

SummaryIn this darkly riveting debut novel, a sophisticated psychological mystery, one woman will stop at nothing to fiFInd her best friend, who seems to have gone missing. . . .nbsp; Despite Maud’s growing anxiety about Elizabeth’s welfare, no one takes her concerns seriously–not her frustrated daughter, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son–because Maud suffers from dementia. But even as her memory disintegrates and she becomes increasingly dependent on the trail of handwritten notes she leaves for herself in her pockets and around her house, Maud cannot forget her best friend. Armed with only an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth–no matter what it takes. As this singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present, the clues she uncovers lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II. As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud’s search for Elizabeth develops a frantic momentum. Whom can she trust? Can she trust herself? A page-turning novel of suspense, Elizabeth Is Missing also hauntingly reminds us that we are all at the mercy of our memory. Always compelling, often poignant, and at times even blackly witty, this is an absolutely unforgettable novel.

 

China Dolls : a novel

See, Lisa. China Dolls. Random House, 6/3/14.

The New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See’s highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls . nbsp; It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition. nbsp; The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything. Advance praise for China Dolls nbsp; ” China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another’s lives even as the world serves up painful transformation. Lisa See gets so much just right here. You’ll want to dive right in.” –Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife nbsp; “This is one of those stories I’ve always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo! Here’s a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs.” –Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Songs of Willow Frost nbsp; “In the beginning of See’s stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938. . . . The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman’s voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See’s characters and her winning prose make this book a wonderful journey through love and loss.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review) nbsp; Praise fornbsp; Dreams of Joy nbsp; “Astonishing . . . one of those hard-to-put-down-until-four-in-the-morning books . . . a story with characters who enter a reader’s life, take up residence, and illuminate the myriad decisions and stories that make up human history.” — Los Angeles Times nbsp; “[Lisa] See is a gifted historical novelist. . . . [In Dreams of Joy, ] there are no clear heroes or villains, just people who often take wrong turns to their own detriment but for the good of the story, leading to greater strength of character and more durable relationships.” –San Francisco Chronicle

 

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

Gilman, Susan Jane. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street.  Grand Central, 6/10/14.

In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street. Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, “The Ice Cream Queen” — doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality. Lillian’s rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone . And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

 

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