Staff picks: The best books of June

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The best book Tracey read in June was...

 

Neon Gods (Dark Olympus #1) by Katee Robert

Neon Gods (Dark Olympus #1) cover artHe was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell... he was, quite simply, mine.

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth... a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Danie read in June was...

 

Boyfriend Material (Boyfriend Material #1) by Alexis Hall

Boyfriend Material (Boyfriend Material #1) cover artWanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O'Donnell is tangentially--and reluctantly--famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he's never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad's making a comeback, Luc's back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship...and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He's a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he's never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that's when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don't ever want to let them go.

 

 

 

 

The best book Jen read in June was...

 

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things cover artIn Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

"I've often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people' also might never understand. And that's what Furiously Happy is all about."

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny's core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let's Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it's about joy—and who doesn't want a bit more of that?

 

 

 

 

 

The best book John read in June was...

 

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

All Systems Red cover artIn a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn't a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied 'droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as "Murderbot." Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best book Phillis read in June was...

 

Blonde Faith (Easy Rawlins #11) by Walter Mosley

Blonde Faith (Easy Rawlins #11) cover artEasy Rawlins, L.A.'s most reluctant detective, comes home one day to find Easter, the daughter of his friend Chrismas Black, left on his doorstep. Easy knows that this could only mean that the ex-marine Black is probably dead, or will be soon. Easter's appearance is only the beginning, as Easy is immersed in a sea of problems. The love of his life is marrying another man and his friend Mouse is wanted for the murder of a father of 12. As he's searching for a clue to Christmas Black's whereabouts, two suspicious MPs hire him to find his friend Black on behalf of the U.S. Army. Easy's investigation brings him to Faith Laneer, a blonde woman with a dark past. As Easy begins to put the pieces together, he realizes that Black's dissappearance has its roots in Vietnam, and that Faith might be in a world of danger.

 

Read the first in the series here: Devil in a Blue Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Shane read in June was...

 

Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains by Cassie Chambers

Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains cover artAfter rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region—an uplifting and eye-opening memoir for readers of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated.

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills.

Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers’s Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth—the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county—stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma—the sixth child—became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world.

Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services.

Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.

 

 

 

 

The best book Meredith read in June was...

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven cover artSet in the days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Joanne read in June was...

 

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race cover artWhen Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020.

 

 

 

 

The best book Janna read in June was...

 

Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science by Erika Engelhaupt

Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science cover artScience reporter Erika Engelhaupt investigates the gross, strange, and morbid absurdities of our bodies and our universe. From the research biologist who stung himself with every conceivable insect to the world's most murderous mammals, this book explores oft-ignored but alluring facets of biology, anatomy, space exploration, nature, and more. Featuring interviews with leading researchers in the field and a large dose of wit, the author reveals the most intriguing real-world applications of science in all their glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Stephanie read in June was...

 

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

A Secret History of Witches cover artAn ancient and dangerous power is being handed down from mother to daughter through some of the most consequential historic events of the last two centuries.

After Grandmére Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to die with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.

From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Cindy read in June was...

 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People cover artA poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined

Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix up their own marriage. There's a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.

 

 

 

 

The best book Lynda read in June was...

 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow cover artWith his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.”

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humour, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Rachel read in June was...

 

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen 

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) cover artA warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara's homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

Passionate and violent, The Bridge Kingdom is a seductive fantasy perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Sara read in June was...

 

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) by Octavia E. Butler

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) cover artDoro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex or design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny (from Africa to the New World) unimaginable to mortals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Diana read in June was...

 

Making Space, Clutter Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You'll Ever Need by Tracy McCubbin

Making Space, Clutter Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You'll Ever Need cover artDiscover the freedom of a beautiful home, personal purpose, and joyful inner confidence

Decluttering expert Tracy McCubbin offers revolutionary help to anyone who has repeatedly tried to break their clutter's mysterious hold. Her powerful answer lies in the 7 Emotional Clutter Blocks, unconscious obstacles that stood between thousands of her clients and financial freedom, healthy relationships, and positive outlooks.

Once a Clutter Block is revealed--and healed--true transformation of home and life is possible. Her empowering techniques and strategies help you:

-Recognize and overcome your Clutter Block(s) to liberate your home.
-Lighten and purge without the rigidity of the other methods.
-Use your home to attain life goals like health, wealth and love.

It's time to break through your Clutter Blocks and discover the lasting happiness waiting for you on the other side!

 

 

 

 

The best book Cindy read in June was...

 

How Y'all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived by Leslie Jordan

How Y'all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived cover artViral sensation and Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan regales fans with entertaining stories about the odd, funny, and unforgettable events in his life in this unmissable essay collection that echoes his droll, irreverent voice.

When actor Leslie Jordan learned he had “gone viral,” he had no idea what that meant or how much his life was about to change. On Instagram, his uproarious videos have entertained millions and have made him a global celebrity. Now, he brings his bon vivance to the page with this collection of intimate and sassy essays.

Bursting with color and life, dripping with his puckish Southern charm, How Y’all Doing? is Leslie doing what Leslie does best: telling stories that make us laugh and lift our spirits even in the darkest days. Whether he’s writing about his brush with a group of ruffians in a West Hollywood Starbucks, or an unexpected phone call from legendary Hollywood start Debbie Reynolds, Leslie infuses each story with his fresh and saucy humor and pure heart.

How Y’all Doing? is an authentic, warm, and joyful portrait of an American Sweetheart— a Southern Baptist celebutante, first-rate raconteur, and keen observer of the odd side of life whose quirky wit rivals the likes of Amy Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, David Rakoff, and Sarah Vowell.

 

 

 

 

The best book Fiona read in June was...

 

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk cover artIt’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Mercedes read in June was...

 

Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3) by Max Gladstone

Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3) cover artThe third novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

 

Read the first in the series here: Three Parts Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Alison read in June was...

 

The Boatbuilder by Daniel Gumbiner

The Boatbuilder cover artAt 28 years old, Eli "Berg" Koenigsberg has never encountered a challenge he couldn't push through, until a head injury leaves him with lingering headaches and a weakness for opiates. Berg moves to a remote Northern California town, seeking space and time to recover, but soon finds himself breaking into homes in search of pills. Addled by addiction and chronic pain, Berg meets Alejandro, a reclusive, master boatbuilder, and begins to see a path forward. Alejandro offers Berg honest labor, but more than this, he offers him a new approach to his suffering, a template for survival amid intense pain. Nurtured by his friendship with Alejandro and aided, too, by the comradeship of many in Talinas, Berg begins to return to himself. Written in gleaming prose, this is a story about resilience, community, and what it takes to win back your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Sean read in June was...

 

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Little Weirds cover artHello and welcome to my book. Inside you will find:

× The smell of honeysuckle
× Heartbreak
× A French-kissing rabbit
× A haunted house
× Death
× A vagina singing sad old songs
× Young geraniums in an ancient castle
× Birth
× A dog who appears in dreams as a spiritual guide
× Divorce
× Electromagnetic energy fields
× Emotional horniness
× The ghost of a sea captain
× And more

I hope you enjoy these little weirds.

Love,
Jenny Slate

 

 

 

The best book Meaghan read in June was...

 

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

The Soulmate Equation cover artSingle mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents--who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno--Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father's never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn't "father material" before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that's predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly's founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can't wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we'll pay you. Jess--who is barely making ends meet--is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the "Diamond" pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist--and the science behind a soulmate--than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

 

 

 

 

The best book Linda read in June was...

 

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

On Second Thought cover artAinsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book that Finn read in June was...

 

Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Winter's Orbit cover artWhile the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat's rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam's cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam's death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war... all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Joaquin read in June was...

 

Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors by Matt Parker

Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors cover artThe book-length answer to anyone who ever put their hand up in math class and asked, "When am I ever going to use this in the real world?"

"Fun, informative, and relentlessly entertaining, Humble Pi is a charming and very readable guide to some of humanity's all-time greatest miscalculations--that also gives you permission to feel a little better about some of your own mistakes." --Ryan North, author of How to Invent Everything

Our whole world is built on math, from the code running a website to the equations enabling the design of skyscrapers and bridges. Most of the time this math works quietly behind the scenes . . . until it doesn't. All sorts of seemingly innocuous mathematical mistakes can have significant consequences.

Math is easy to ignore until a misplaced decimal point upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to crash, or someone divides by zero and stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean.

Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses, and mathematical mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman Empire, and an Olympic team, Matt Parker uncovers the bizarre ways math trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

 

 

 

 

The best book Cameron read in June was...

 

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

No One Is Talking About This cover artAs this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms "the portal," where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats--from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness--begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal's void. An avalanche of images, details, and references accumulate to form a landscape that is post-sense, post-irony, post-everything. "Are we in hell?" the people of the portal ask themselves. "Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?"

Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: "Something has gone wrong," and "How soon can you get here?" As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.

Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

 

 

 

 

The best book Beth read in June was...

 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt cover artTambién de este lado hay sueños.
On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

 

 

 

 

The best book Rachael read in June was...

 

Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff

Raft of Stars cover artWhen two hardscrabble young boys think they’ve committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it’s too late?

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

 

 

 

 

The best book Finn read in June was...

 

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) cover artSeven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The best book Jessie read in June was...

 

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Not My Problem cover artAideen has plenty of problems she can’t fix. Her best (and only) friend is pulling away. Her mother’s drinking problem is a constant concern. She’s even running out of outlandish diseases to fake so she can skip PE.

But when Aideen stumbles on her nemesis, overachiever Meabh Kowalski, in the midst of a full-blown meltdown, she sees a problem that—unlike her own disaster of a life—seems refreshingly easy to solve. Meabh is desperate to escape her crushing pile of extracurriculars. Aideen volunteers to help. By pushing Meabh down the stairs.

Problem? Solved. Meabh’s sprained ankle is the perfect excuse to ditch her overwhelming schedule. But when another student learns about their little scheme and brings Aideen another “client” who needs her “help,” it kicks off a semester of traded favors, ill-advised hijinks, and an unexpected chance at love. Fixing other people’s problems won’t fix her own, but it might be the push she needs to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best book Assh read in June was...

 

20th Century Boys, Band 01 (20th Century Boys #1) by Naoki Urasawa

20th Century Boys, Band 01 (20th Century Boys #1) cover artMankind would not have made the new age, encountering the crisis at the end of the last century, that almost wiped them out... if it weren't for "them". In 1969, "they" who were still in their youth, created a symbol. In 1997, as the footsteps of the disaster slowly starts to show out, the symbol revives. This is the story about several boys, that save the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Alora read in June was...

 

Blade of Secrets (Bladesmith #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Blade of Secrets (Bladesmith #1) cover artEighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims' secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world's known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

A teenage blacksmith with social anxiety accepts a commission from the wrong person and is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she's ever made.

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Diana read in June was...

 

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Fable (Fable #1) cover artFor seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

The best book CJ read in June was...

 

Old Yeller (Old Yeller #1) by Fred Gipson

Old Yeller (Old Yeller #1) cover artAt first, Travis couldn't stand the sight of Old Yeller. 

The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene.

Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis's family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The best book Susan read in June was...

 

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

When Stars Are Scattered cover artHeartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

 

 

 

 

The best book Meaghan read in June was...

 

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos

Your Mama cover artA sweet twist on the age-old “yo mama” joke, celebrating fierce moms everywhere with playful lyricism and gorgeous illustrations. Perfect for Mother’s Day.

Yo’ mama so sweet, she could be a bakery. She dresses so fine, that she could have her clothing line. And, even when you mess up, she’s so forgiving that she lets you keep on living. Heartwarming and richly imagined, YOUR MAMA twists an old joke into a point of pride that honors the love, hard work, and dedication of mamas everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Laurel read in June was...

 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl cover artFor fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby.

Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid's life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole...and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Danielle read in June was...

 

If Kids Could Drive by Marisa Kollmeier & Teepoo Riaz

If Kids Could Drive cover artImagines a world in which children would drive cars with marshmallow bumpers to roadside restaurants with only children's menus, and every trip would include a stop at an amusement park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best book Meaghan read in June was...

 

The One Thing You'd Save by Linda Sue Park

The One Thing You'd Save cover artIf your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park explores different answers to this provocative question in linked poems that capture the diverse voices of a middle school class. Illustrated with black-and-white art.

When a teacher asks her class what one thing they would save in an emergency, some students know the answer right away. Others come to their decisions more slowly. And some change their minds when they hear their classmates’ responses. A lively dialog ignites as the students discover unexpected facets of one another—and themselves. With her ear for authentic dialog and knowledge of tweens’ priorities and emotions, Linda Sue Park brings the varied voices of an inclusive classroom to life through carefully honed, engaging, and instantly accessible verse.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for even more recommendations? Check out May's Staff Rec List