Hi! Here are our personal favorite upcoming books from Summer 2009. But don’t take our word for it. Read them youselves!

Dave’s Pick
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
“Wait, WHAT are you reading?!” is the reaction I got a few times when I told my friends the title of the book flashing across my e-reader. They would ask me if I was a Satanist or something, and I would answer no, but that sort of thing just got a whole lot cooler. Who knew stealing souls could be such funny business? Well, apparently, the British can make anything funny. In the tradition of The Gone-Away World, the wit involved here is subsuming. The book’s title character is an unsmiling, perpetually annoyed spigot of hilarious nastiness, and I can’t get enough. I want Johannes to be real. A sampling: “I’m not holding a soiree either. You have a problem with sarcasm, don’t you? Now do you have anything else fascinating to impart or can I kick your wrinkly little carcass down the embankment as I so dearly wish?” This riotous send-up of the classic Faustian tale is endlessly fascinating, to the point where I kind of want to sign my soul away just to see what would happen.

Erica’s Pick
The Natural Laws of Good Luck: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage by Ellen Graf
Marriage today comes in many variations.  In my late twenties and a newlywed myself, I’m a bit “traditional.”  But what if I were divorced, facing middle age, and searching for love?  What would a marriage look like to me then?  For Ellen Graf, she took a chance and married a Chinese businessman, with a past of his own.  He moved from China to her upstate New York farmhouse and so began their “unconventional” marriage.  Despite the language barrier, a host of cultural misunderstandings and financial crises, Ellen and Zhong-Hua were able to face these challenges and their new life together with humor, patience, and love.  Ellen now eats rock fungus and Zhong-Hua learned how to drive, albeit often following his own rules!  At times, The Natural Laws of Good Luck can read like the funniest of humor memoirs, but at its heart is a story of acceptance, love and renewal at midlife by taking a brave leap into the unknown.  Rather inspiring, really, no matter what “type” of marriage you may have yourself.

Marie’s Pick
The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis
When author Carolina de Robertis began writing as a child, her parents begged her to put their family stories on paper. Available in August, the result of family oral tradition and lots of listening and research, is her debut novel. The Invisible Mountain is as lush in character, plot and language as the South American landscape in which it is set. More than a narrative of the Firrelli’s, a Uraguayan family with Italian roots that run deep within the Venetian canals, de Robertis’s novel traces the stories of three generations of women:  Pajarita, the baby who went missing only to be discovered in a tree; her daughter, Eva, a rebellious poet who finds love in the most unlikely of places; and Eva’s daughter, Salomé, who risks her life hiding weapons for guerilla rebels under bed. Infused into the societal and political unrest of Eva Perón’s Buenos Aires and the gleaming city of Montevideo are the bits of magical realism, sweeping sticks-in-your-mouth prose, and an addictive storyline rich in cultural significance. This striking start will delight fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende who will find themselves fully immersed in the “sharp t‘s and j‘s, y‘s and g‘s” that tie these women together.

Marcia’s Pick
Border Songs: A Novel by Jim Lynch
Even though the Advance Reading Copy (ARC) is designed to make you get a jump on the publication of the book itself – to get you to talk about the book – to spread the good word — in general, help to SELL the book — there are very few ARCs that I can remember that literally start off with four solid pages of praise.   This praise is not  all in-house either.  Most of it comes from bookstore staff across the country and contains phrases like, “a truly wonderful and thoughtful novel,” “in a class by itself,” “beautifully rendered scenes,” “curious, brilliant, often visionary characters,” and lest I built it up TOO much, I’ll close the quotes with this one: “I savored every chapter, every character, every lovely sentence, every plot twist and turn.  It is a superbly crafted novel…” Brandon Vanderkool is the heart and soul of this story.  At 6’8″ and extremely dyslexic, he doesn’t seem a likely choice to take center stage, and he does have a lot of competition from the assortment of characters populating this novel.  I won’t even attempt to describe the plot.  Suffice it to say that there’s a lot going on around the U.S./Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest and Brandon is pushed by his father into the very thick of it when he joins the Border Patrol. Also there is a perfect marriage between book and cover.  Kudos to the selection of Walton Ford’s Falling Bough (2008) as the painting which draws you into the book.

Jen’s Pick
The Rapture by Liz Jensen
The marketing copy calls it Girl Interrupted meets The Dead Zone and I have to say it is spot on.  As the novel opens, 16-year-old Bethany Krall is in a psychiatric hospital for brutally killing her mother and is assigned to Gabrielle Fox, a young therapist recently crippled in a car accident.  It seems Bethany’s previous therapist left under mysterious circumstances and Gabrielle soon understands why.  Still struggling to come to terms with life in a wheelchair, she is easily manipulated by the twisted teen who seems to have an uncanny, even spooky ability to foretell natural disasters and even knows things about Gabrielle’s life that she shouldn’t know.  Gabrielle’s skepticism turns to wary belief as Bethany’s predictions of earthquakes and hurricanes come eerily true.  She enlists the help of a geophysicist and the two attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery just as Bethany shares her most shocking and horrific revelation.  Can they convince society that Bethany’s warnings should be heeded?  Can they save the world before it is too late?  This gothic, apocalyptic novel is a mesmerizing read.  You won’t be disappointed…just scared silly.

Our Summer Staff Picks!

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