Fun in the sun: our summer reads

These books are the perfect companions to hot summer days, afternoons by the lakeshore, or evenings inside savoring the AC. As our bookseller Vicki put it, "All winter I look out the window and ponder over what beach I'm going to set my little chair on when I spend my one-week summer vacation absorbed in a few good books by the sea. I introduce to you some dear old friends, books that went to the beach with me and books that were good company."

The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season Cover Image
ISBN: 9781525804557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graydon House - June 9th, 2020

Whenever I travel to a place, I like to find a bookstore and buy at least one book (often a mystery) that is set in the state or city that I am visiting. Ironically, the only place that I am traveling these days is my home state of Michigan, and not very far either!  I was glad to discover Molly Fader, who is a prolific author of fiction and romances (under a pseudonym). In her new novel, she gives you a taste of the mechanics of the cherry harvest at a small orchard near Alpena, Michigan, a few family mysteries (what is Aunt Peg hiding?) and a believable romance between a single mother and her neighbor.  More people stuck at home have been looking for relief when they turn off the news. "Bitter and Sweet" provides non video entertainment without embarrassment. When you are done, you can pass it  along to your girlfriends and they'll thank you. —Carla

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Just Kids Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060936228
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 2nd, 2010

I devoured this book in one day, seated in my rickety old camp chair on a dock that was mostly submerged in a small Michigan lake: sun shining, birds singing, my dog nearby. It was the right book, at the right time, in the right place. Patti Smith is an exceptional writer and a wonderful storyteller. Her honesty and revelations about that special time in American cultural history, NYC of the 60's and 70's, was eye-opening, sweet and bittersweet, and absolutely full of love. —Vicki

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316421973
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Redhook - May 12th, 2020

 have much to thank Alix Harrow for; this book quite exceptionally whisked me away from reality to a world full of natural chaos, potential, and magic.  Our narrator is January Scaller, a quick, ironic, powerful, and cool 17 year old who has grown up as the ward of a rich and stern man who wants her to follow his rules, and “be a good girl.”  Close to her 17th birthday, January finds a book called The Ten Thousand Doors that opens up the world (and surrounding worlds), to her in an increasingly more real, and tangible way.  Harrow has created a novel that is a joyful ode to fantasy, portals, and world-building. I loved this book, may it take you all the places you want to go! —Charlotte

Catherine House: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062905659
Availability: Backordered
Published: Custom House - May 12th, 2020

What 18 year old wouldn't want to go to an elite academic college like "Catherine House,' with free tuition and free room and board (a bacchanal of anachronistic gourmet meals, endless dessert teas, and all the wine you can drink). The only "catch" appears to be that you can't leave the expansive campus for three years or be in touch with the outside world. Ines Murillo finds herself on the run and grateful for the least initially.  This is a skillfully written school thriller with a dystopic secret which will remind you of everything from "Brave New World," to Ivy League fraternities and secret societies, and Scientology.  Creepy and intelligent, the author makes good use of her art history knowledge. —Carla

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385341004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - May 5th, 2009

This gentle novel is perfect when you need a break from harsh reality. It is set in Britain in 1946, just as the country is beginning to claw its way back to some kind of normalcy after WWII. It is a love story, but it isn’t just a story of romantic love. There is love between friends both new and old, filial love, and, most of all, a love for books.  It isn’t all sweetness and light, though, as much of the book relates the experience of some of the Guernsey islanders during the German occupation. Some were hilarious, most are decidedly less so. You may admire, and maybe fall in love with these lovely people (well, most of them anyway), as I did. —Deb

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All Adults Here: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634697
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2020

Most of the fiction that I've read has been mysteries or classics, but recently I've been turning to some fun commercial authors who've been updating the formula.  Frankly, they write much better than the authors that I have picked up (and put down) in the past. All Adults Here is one such author new to me. The three grown siblings of the Strick family  in Upstate New York, haven't spent a lot of time together in recent years. The goat farmer, intentionally pregnant and single, the beautiful man-child former teen star, and the striving firstborn who never feels he measures up, are about to brought together over the course of a few months of small family traumas. It will also bring them closer to their mother and her wise beyond her years grand-daughter. The book is filled with great small town details, that will increase your nostalgia for your hometown, but not for high school. —Carla

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His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Book 1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780440418320
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yearling - May 22nd, 2001

Pullman's "His Dark Materials Trilogy" consists of three books: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. I absolutely cherish this series, which I read while undergoing cancer treatment—I found a safe haven in the characters. The series follows two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they travel across parallel universes. Visually rich, utterly captivating, I was happily lost in the series and then found myself lost when I finished them; I didn't want to return to the real world. Though it was written for young adults, I highly recommend Pullman's trilogy for any and all ages. —Vicki

The Little Paris Bookshop Cover Image
Email or call 734-585-5567 for price
ISBN: 9781594139659
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Large Print Press - March 22nd, 2016

“The settings are ideal for a summer-romance read. Who can resist floating on a barge through France surrounded by books, wine, love, and great conversation?" This little story  is a love letter to books. Monsieur Perdu refers to himself as a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life, using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, mending broken hearts and souls. Sweet. —Vicki

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World Cover Image
By Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (Foreword by), Jane Billinghurst (Translator)
ISBN: 9781771642484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greystone Books - September 13th, 2016

Making the case that the forest is a social network, naturalist Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of forests and trees. Like human families, he believes, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating a healthy ecosystem. He also believes a happy forest is a healthy forest that benefits the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who share it. —Vicki

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Wild Magic (The Immortals #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481440226
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - September 29th, 2015

I try to spend some time with one of Tamora Pierce's books about once a year, because I love them, and because her books make me feel as excited and wonder-filled as I did when I first read them.  In this one, Daine, left with only her pony Cloud, after her village is destroyed by bandits, manages to get a job with Onua, a horse trader, as they both work to bring a herd to the Capital City.  Daine has a serious knack with animals-- it's wild magic, a gift that allows her to converse with animals.  Pierce connects her readers to her fantastical worlds by depicting characters who are respectful of nature and each other, and who stay with you long after you finish the last page.  This is a book that will help reconnect you with that kid who used to read for hours, and loved to get lost in a good story. —Charlotte

Take Me Apart: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374272616
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: MCD - April 28th, 2020

After a breakdown and her resulting job loss, Kate Aitken hires on as an archivist working in the Marin County house where famed art photographer Miranda Brand lived, and where her mutilated body was found 25 years ago. Who killed troubled photographer Miranda Brand? Her jarring photo series are described brilliantly in the book-anyone who has gone to museum exhibitions can visualize them. Was it her jealous less successful artist husband, her jealous lover, her attractive but preoccupied son, who has hired Kate to look over the hoard of papers to prepare them for auction, or was it Miranda's rapacious art dealer?  The book is cleverly composed of alternating archival documents (letters and diary entries from the 80s and 90s) and current day chapters that follow Kate's progress as her suspicions build. A moody first mystery that  gets the art world details right. —Carla

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What We Were Promised Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316437196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - August 6th, 2019

A love triangle; a city on the verge of great wealth; a Chinese American family returning as expats to their homeland; a young woman trying to escape her rural village for the big city—this book is packed with drama and heart. Debut author Tan builds her world of nouveau-riche Shanghai with total authority, capturing not only the absurdity and glamor of a city going through exponential growth, but also how the history of the Cultural Revolution has shaped and still haunts the present day. Don’t even get me started on her characters. I cried just about anytime Zhen Hong came on the page. I loved Sunny, Rose, Karen, Little Cao, and my heart ached deeply for all the rest. This is a novel that I am impatient for others to read, so they can experience what I did. —Lillian

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Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250316776
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - May 14th, 2019

It's hard for me to capture how thoroughly I fell in love with this book! Part romance and part election story, Red, White & Royal Blue tells the story of Alex, First Son of the US, and Henry, Prince of Wales, and their secret love affair amidst Alex's mother's reelection campaign. This book has it all: witty banter, beautiful love letters, timely political commentary, and an awesome squad of characters. Especially in such dark and chaotic political times, this book is a much needed breath of fresh air. Fun, flirty, and so, so smart! —Julia

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062255662
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 3rd, 2014

This novel is Gaiman at his most distilled - a fantastical and at times terrifying world exists alongside our own, and storytelling and myth prove to be the most powerful tools against everything that threatens Ocean's young narrator. Ocean taps into the deep emotional space of memory and myth and is ultimately a beautiful, edgy fairy tale about being a human being. Also, I dare you to not fall in love with the Hempstock women! —Kelsey

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The Prince and the Dressmaker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626723634
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - February 13th, 2018

Look no further for a feel-good graphic novel! With lively costume designs, vibrant colors, charming characters, and a plot heartwarming enough to melt even Ann Arbor winters, it’s no wonder Jen Wang won TWO Eisner awards (the Oscars of comics) for this book. (The awards? Best Writer/Artist and Best Publication for Teens.) A fresh, celebratory story of friendship, breaking barriers, and staying true to one’s self. I left it smiling. —Stephanie