June Preview

Well I wasn’t able to make it to BookExpo in New York this past week, but it looked like it highlighted some big-named authors with new fiction coming out this fall, notably Jennifer Egan with “Manhattan Beach” (Oct.), Nicole Krauss with “Forest Dark” (Sept.), Jesmyn Ward with “Sing, Unburied, Sing” (Sept.) and the first story collection of Jeffrey Eugenides called “Fresh Complaint” (Oct.). I’m sure many other buzzed about books were there, but we’ll have to wait and see what the word is on those. If you went to the Expo, I hope you had a great time and will give us the lowdown on what transpired and is hotly anticipated. Most importantly, how many books did you pick up, or which authors did you meet?

These days I’m juggling due dates of checked out library books with the onslaught of those coming off hold, and recently I finished listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Franzen’s lengthy 2015 novel “Purity.” Wow that one took me two weeks to get through but the storytelling I found was well worth it. My review of that will follow sometime this week along perhaps with my summer reading list. I enjoyed putting one together last year. It’s fun to decide which books go on the list — as my summer reading usually varies quite a bit from the rest of the year. It’s a prime-time for page-turners or stories you can easily fall into while catching rays on the back deck.

June is usually a great month — busy though. I have a couple trips and much yard work planned. It is very green here now and all the foliage has grown bonkers. So summer begins — I hope you enjoy yours. For now I’ll leave you with some notable new releases of what I see coming out this month.

I’m usually not a reader of really long, thick books, but Rachel Kadish’s novel “The Weight of Ink” (576 pages) seems like a totally immersive experience that’s received quite a bit of high praise.

It’s a story about two British historians who get a hold of a mysterious collection of papers hidden in a historic London home that sends them on an unforgettable quest. They’re 300-year-old letters written by a Jewish woman with an intellect unwilling to be squashed. One part is about her life in 17th-century, plague-ridden London, and the other part is the quest of the present-day historians trying to figure out the puzzle behind her letters. Hmm, I’m game.

Also the Indian author Arundhati Roy has a new book coming out called “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,” which is her first novel in 20 years. I remember reading her debut “The God of Small Things” in 1997 when it won the Booker Prize, but it’s been a long, long time.

Her new book looks to be a complex and challenging read, but one that is said to be rewarding and worth the wait. I gather it’s a bit hard to sum up but features a diverse cast of characters whose stories are interweaved with India’s social and political tensions, particularly the violent retaliations to Kashmir’s fight for self-rule.

Apparently the story includes a lot of violence and suffering but also is suffused with flashes of humor and irony. Ron Charles of the Washington Post has called the novel a “remarkable creation, a story both intimate and international, swelling with comedy and outrage, a tale that cradles the world’s most fragile people even while it assaults the Subcontinent’s most brutal villains.” Hmm I’m curious to see how it compares to her first novel from long ago.

Next up, after that challenge, I’ll likely need Karen Dionne’s fast-paced psychological thriller “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” about a woman whose dangerous father has killed two guards and escaped from prison, disappearing into the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she was raised. The police start a manhunt for him, but the daughter knows she’s the only one who can track him down.

The story sounds unsettling and sinister for sure — it’s been recommended for those who liked Emma Donoghue’s novel “Room” — but is said to be well-done and to keep readers on the edge of their seats. It might be just the right thing while sunning on the back deck.

Then there’s Daniel Riley’s debut novel “Fly Me,” which is said to be a story of dark discovery set in the debauchery of 1970s Los Angeles. It’s about an airline stewardess who falls into a drug-trafficking scheme that clashes with the skyjacking epidemic of the day and one she does her best to break free of.

Apparently the novel is an excellent time capsule of 1970s nostalgia and is a book that author Scott O’Connor says “conjures a place and time as vibrant and compelling as the embattled young woman at the heart of this story.” I like novels set in L.A. and Southern California where I grew up — so count me in for this one. I think its plot gets pretty crazy but we will see.

Lastly in books, Thrity Umrigar’s new novel “Everybody’s Son” looks to be an interesting novel that examines race and privilege in America. It’s about a neglected 10-year-old African American boy who thrives as a foster child to a white U.S. judge and his wife who pull strings in order to keep him. But when the boy discovers the truth about his life and his birth mother, he must come to terms with those who’ve meant the most to him.

It sounds like a moving and timely novel from an author I have not tried yet. Author Celeste Ng says of it: With assured prose and deep insight into the human heart, Umrigar explores the moral gray zone of what parents, no matter their race, will do for love.” Hmm, it sounds like it’s a story worth exploring.

As for movie picks in June, it looks like “Wonder Woman” will surely make a dent at the box office. Critics like it too apparently as it’s received a 94% approval rating on the site Rotten Tomatoes. So who knows, I may eventually see my first superhero movie in many many years. I was going to wait for Aquaman — which is coming out in 2018, but maybe “Wonder Woman” is worth it? What do you think, have you seen it? It’s sure to be huge, and will likely do wonders for DC Entertainment, but I haven’t been a big superhero film watcher since the days of lovely Christopher Reeve and his Superman movies. As for other films this month, I’m hoping the romantic-comedy “The Big Sick” might have some laughs in it. Gosh it seems we could all use some laughs about now. So let’s hope this one has some in it; it looks a bit promising.

As for albums coming out in June there’s a slew of new ones by a variety of singers from pop divas Katy Perry and Lorde to singer-songwriter, country-alternative types like Jason Isbell, Steve Earle, Roger Waters, Ani DiFranco, and Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters among others. I’m not sure yet of any of these new ones, but I’ll try the latter as my pick this month. The Honeycutters hail from Asheville, N.C., and I’m new to them.

What about you — which upcoming books, movies, and music are you looking forward to this month?

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28 Responses to June Preview

  1. Brian Joseph says:

    Some day I attend Book Expo. At the very least I hope to get to at least one book festival this year.

    The Weight of Ink sounds very good. The length should not deter me. A novel whose protagonists are historians will inevitably interest me.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yeah Brian, The Weight of Ink looks very tempting to me too. I like historical mystery types of stories. I hope to get to BookExpo next year — it’s sort of a fun experience.

  2. I enjoyed several of Jennifer Egan’s books…I didn’t like A Visit from the Goon Squad, though. (The diagrams turned me off, lol).

    I’m still pondering whether or not I should read Purity. I liked The Corrections, but not Freedom, so it was a toss-up for me. Plus, lengthy novels are somewhat tedious…unless they are fast-paced or have very captivating characters.

    Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog. Enjoy your week!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Laurel, yeah I think you would like Franzen’s novel “Purity” — it’s more accessible & engaging I think than his denser titles. I found it easy which surprised me. I have not tried Jennifer Egan yet but I will try her new book due out this fall. Thx for stopping by!

  3. I was at BEA but didn’t get to stay for the whole thing and am pretty sure I missed all the titles you mentioned. (I’m not 100% sure because my books aren’t here yet.)

    I’m really excited about the new Umrigar!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Kathy, I agree the new Umrigar title sounds quite good. I hope to get to it. I look forward to seeing which books you got at BEA. Nice you managed to get there for a bit of it.

  4. Carmen says:

    The Weight of Ink sounds good. I think I saw it on Netgalley and read the blurb but didn’t request it; my reading schedule is full until December.

    I’m excited about Wonder Woman. I already read a very favorable and enticing review on it. I’m trying to finish with four 2016 movies that competed at the Oscars and then I can begin screening this year’s lot. There are not many out for rent yet that I want to watch, but I already saw two very good ones, namely The Founder and A Dog’s Purpose, which made me tear up four times. I don’t know if you have seen it, but being a dog mom you may like it.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yes Carmen, I’ll definitely have to see A Dog’s Purpose; I didn’t realize it was available yet on rental — great to know! I’m a dog freak. I think Wonder Woman looks good and most of the reviews seem to be favorable. It sounds like you have picked up a lot of Netgalleys if you are busy till December, Nice! I hope to request a few for fall.

  5. Some nice book releases for June. It’s been a long time since I have attended a book expo. Life Lately is busy working and escapades to the mountains.
    Have a safe trip 🙂

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi RT, yeah summer is busy! Much more than winter. I hope you are enjoying your days. The U.S. BookExpo is pretty fun; I might go next year. We’ll see. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. So excited to see Thrity Umrigar has a new book. I’ve only read The Story Hour, but it made me want to read everything else she’s written.

    A Visit From the Goon Squad is my only experience with Jennifer Egan. I loved the audio version, but it is definitely not for the inexperienced listener. Looking forward to Manhattan Beach already!

    Thanks for reminding me about Purity… it’s been on my shelf since the day it was released! Franzen is a favorite and I’m not sure why I haven’t read it yet. Maybe I’ll borrow the audio and make it a read/listen combo. Will keep an eye out for your review post.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi JoAnn, yeah checkout the audiobook of Purity — it’s quite entertaining I thought but it takes 2 weeks of listening! I too look forward to Jennifer Egan’s new book this fall; I’m a newbie to her as well as to Thrity Umrigar’s books. Her new one looks very enticing. Enjoy!

  7. Ti says:

    I’ve got Manhattan Beach and I am really looking forward to it. I’ve seen so many book pics from BEA and I’ve added a handful to my Goodreads list to either request later from Edelweiss or to pick up from the library at some point. The covers are just fabulous this year.

    I haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet but I was at happy hour right next to the theater on Thursday and people were all dressed up and lined up to see it. Everyone I know who has seen it says it’s awesome.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Ti, Good to hear about everyone liking the Wonder Woman movie, excellent! I will have to see it soon. I think I got a e-copy of Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach too, so we will have to compare opinions about it. I probably won’t get to it till September though. Have a great week! ps. I’m flying to see my folks this week in Redlands; I think it looks warm down there.

  8. Judy Krueger says:

    So many good books coming out! I think you hit all of them. I await your Purity review. I also thought the story telling was quite good. And I must see Wonder Woman. I was her for Halloween one time! Ani DiFranco?!! I was such a fan of hers. I was recently wondering what she was doing these days.
    Happy Summer to you!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Judy, you’d make a perfect Wonder Woman — Halloween or not! Anyone who can read & review as many books as you do each month is a superhero. 🙂 I used to be an Ani DiFranco fan too but gosh it’s been a long time. Her new one sounds a bit different from her others but I will have a listen. I have to gather my thoughts about the novel Purity before they escape me. I was impressed actually. Enjoy your week.

  9. Sarah Ryan says:

    Great summer list! Roy’s God of All Things is one of my all-time favorite books. I can’t wait for her new one — at long last! I will look for these others, too. Maybe The Marsh King’s Daughter for when we are in Michigan over the 4th??

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi — did you ever get home from overseas? Summer is on a roll for sure. Actually these are just book releases for June but I’m still making my summer reading list which I hope to post later in the week. The Marsh King book looks spooky. hmm

  10. Alas, I was not able to go to Book Expo, but I am looking forward to ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’ and ‘Everybody’s Son’. I’ve heard great things about ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ too. I’m currently reading ‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ but I haven’t made it to the part where the action picks up. I’ll let you know how it went when I’m done. 🙂

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Kate, yeah I’ll look for your thoughts on the Karen Dionne book before I pick it up. There’s quite a bit to get to this summer. I’m behind as usual. Enjoy!

  11. Great list of June picks. Everybody’s Son is one I hope to be able to squeeze in this month.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Susie, yeah a lot of people are talking about reading the Umrigar book. I hope it’s good. Enjoy!

  12. Sing Unburied Sing is on my TBR list since I haven’t read anything by this author. I was excited to hear that Roy had returned to fiction, but I fear that no book could live up to her debut masterpiece or the following hype. I’m not a big superhero movie goer but I do plan to see Wonder Woman, my favorite superhero as a young girl. I love that a female superhero is doing so well in the box office.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Sarah, yeah it’s nice to see both Wonder Woman back and Roy. I’d like to reread her first one too. It’s been a long time. I have not read Jesmyn Ward either so I’m curious. I hope you are doing well. I’ll stop by soon.

  13. Naomi says:

    I love the title “The ministry of Utmost Happiness”, but it’s The Weight of Ink that really catches my attention!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Naomi, yeah a lot of interest in The Weight of Ink … many like the historical search kinds of stories and this one looks good. Enjoy your week!

  14. Catherine says:

    I don’t know anything about Weight of Ink but it sounds fascinating! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

    I almost feel like I should read Roy’s Small Things again before reading this new one. I have completely forgotten what it was about.

    For whatever reason I used to think that summer was a slow time for releases, but I have a silly amount of June/July new books to read. And I’m feeling too lazy to write reviews!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Catherine, summer seems a glorious time for reading (even Seattle sees sun, am I right?) though I have fallen behind with other things going on. I agree with you — I think I need to read The God of Small Things again. It seems so long ago and I can’t really remember it either. That might be better than picking up her new one, which I’ve heard is not an easy read. Good luck with all your reading!

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