Book Buzz: Aquatic Friendships, Austen in Pakistan, and a Magician’s Secrets

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For June, we’re looking at historical fiction set on a unique Korean island, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice that is set in modern Pakistan, and a memoir from a magic enthusiast/amateur magician.

Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women (2019)*

The Island of the Sea Women

Jeju, a Korean island, has a unique traditional culture in which women are the primary breadwinners, diving for seafood, like oysters and octopus. Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women opens at a pivotal moment for her characters and the world itself–1939. On the eve of World War II, Young-Sook and Mi-Ja befriend each other, though these young women come from very different backgrounds. Throughout the years, which include the backdrop of WWII, the Korean War, and the 21st century, the two find their friendship severely tested.

*Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, and Geraldine Brooks.

Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable (2019)


This charming, hilarious retelling of Pride and Prejudice repackages the classic romance with a modern setting. That’s certainly not new–I’ve reviewed modern reduxes of Jane Austen on here before. What is unique and clever about Unmarriageable is the modern setting the story is transported into–Pakistan. Alys Binat is a schoolteacher, determined never to marry. When she meets Valentine Darsee, their disdain for each other is seemingly mutual. Until, maybe it isn’t. Of course, you know how the story goes, but the fun is seeing how this version gets there.

Recommended for Austenites and those who enjoy the work of Kevin Kwan.

Ian Frisch’s Magic is Dead (2018)

Magic is Dead

In this deeply personal memoir, journalist Ian Frisch chronicles his long-time fascination with magic and magicians, as well as a history of magicians and what the contemporary magic scene looks like now. He pays particular attention to his friends in the 52, a group dedicated to revitalizing magic. (Because I’m an Arrested Development fan, G.O.B. “It’s an illusion!” Bluth’s misguided career as a magician is my go-to mental image of magicians, so I’m totally envisioning these folks as the Alliance of Magicians.)

Frisch’s memoir is engaging, but it is very much rooted in his own experiences, so don’t go into this expecting an objective, comprehensive history of magic. Instead, expect a more personal story that is interwoven with information and anecdotes from the world of magic.

Recommended for those who enjoy unique memoirs.

What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information about any of these items.


Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

2 thoughts on “Book Buzz: Aquatic Friendships, Austen in Pakistan, and a Magician’s Secrets”

  1. I loved Unmarriagable. I was a little hesitant to read this one, but I enjoyed the change in setting and time. The author stayed true to the story without it becoming boring and predictable. I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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