Book Buzz: Historical Fiction, Once, Twice, Thrice; Literary Science Fiction; Turmeric; and Space Race Rom Coms

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For June, we’re looking at historical fiction set during the Great Depression, the Russian Revolution, and World War II; Emily St. John Mandel’s newest book; a cookbook solely devoted to this month’s spice; and a rom com that pairs an astronaut with a movie star.

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Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

When Sunja is born in the 1910s in Yeongdo, a small fishing village, in what is now South Korea, she has no expectation of ever leaving her hometown. Her parents, including her kindly but disabled father Hoonie, run a boardinghouse that largely caters to local fishermen. It seems inevitable that Sunja, as her parents’ only surviving child, will also spend her entire life in Yeongdo running the family boardinghouse.

However, as a teenager, Sunja migrates to Japan to start a new life, as many Koreans did during this time when Korea was a Japanese colony. This decision, made largely to avoid the intense shame she will face in her hometown for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy and connected to marriage to a virtual stranger to save face, touches off a family saga spanning decades that examines the experiences of Zainichi, Japan’s Korean population. As with many Zainichi, Sunja and her family find themselves experiencing intense discrimination in Japan and must navigate finding their way in a country that is technically home but doesn’t feel like it.

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Book Buzz: Coming-of-Age Tales, Florence, Danish Mysteries, Survival Memoirs, and the Mexican War

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For May, we’re looking at a coming-of-age story set in the 90s, a WWII story with an Italian setting, a new-ish series of Danish procedural mysteries, a Holocaust memoir, and historical fiction about the Mexican War.

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Book Buzz: Magical Realism, the Titanic, Tacos, Chefs with a Side of Murder, Black Foodways, and Tractors

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For April, we’re looking at magical realism about an Ecuadorean family, historical fiction about one of the most famous shipwrecks, a romantic comedy about a food truck, murder mysteries with a culinary twist, a fascinating cookbook/anthology about Black food culture around the world, and a nonfiction examination of the now little-remembered Tractor Wars of the early 20th century.

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Keilan Morrissey’s Beach House

Kyle and Nicole are two young New York professionals, happy, in love, and excited for their much-needed vacation to Florida. They’ve rented a picturesque beach house with a stunning view . . . that includes a strange group of people. They wear dark cloaks and never seem to leave the beach. Kyle and Nicole are, by turns, puzzled, amused, and creeped out by their eerie neighbors. Why are they there? Why don’t they leave? And why do they want to talk to the young couple?

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Philippe Sands’ The Ratline (2020)

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time–it’s well-written, insightful, thought-provoking, moving, and disturbing all at once–and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since reading it.

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Molly May’s Witnesses for the Lamb (2021)

The arrival of new books at the library is always a matter of interest to me. Partially because I consider it research for this blog but also partially because I’m nosy and just want to see what’s new that I might like! A few weeks ago, Mary-Esther pulled this one aside and asked me if I’d heard about it or the crime in question. I hadn’t, but I was intrigued. Thanks to Mary-Esther for the excellent suggestion! This is a fascinating book about a bizarre crime that happened virtually next door to us forty years ago.

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Book Buzz: Cuban Revolutionaries, Irish Family Sagas, Romantic Pen Pals, Teenaged Journalists, and Historic Kidnappings

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at biographical fiction set in 19th century Cuba and Gilded Age New York City, a family history trilogy set in Ireland and beyond, a modern romance between pen pals, a YA book about a budding young writer who stumbles across more than she bargained for with her first assignment, and an audiobook that is the first nonfiction from a novelist.

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Book Buzz: Pack Horse Librarians (Again), Poison Gardens, Hippo Mysteries, and Problem Wildlife

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For December, we’re looking at historical fiction about Kentucky pack horse libraries during the Great Depression, a fantasy about a green thumb and deadly plants, a comedic children’s mystery, and Mary Roach’s latest nonfiction romp.

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What a Wonderful World: Hot Chocolate Brown

This year, our theme at the library is What A Wonderful World. We’re focusing on a different color for each month, and December’s is hot chocolate brown. To that end, we’re highlighting books at the library with that color (or something close to it) on the cover!

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