The Low Desert: Gangster Stories by Tod Goldberg, recommended by Vicki
You gotta love at least one gangster in this collection, filled with hapless and ruthless bad guys: an unlucky lounge singer and petty crook who, after learning you can’t trust a con, takes down his business partner only to discover you also can’t trust a clown; Goon Number Four, who enrolls in a DJ class after retiring from decades as a paid assassin; Dark Billy Cupertine who grew up in The Family and had five kills before he was 17. In all there are 12 stories—some intertwined, some spattered with sly, dark humor—featuring street weary and cynical guys looking for one last score to send them straight. While the action rolls along at a slow boil, the characters are the heart of this work. Goldberg wraps the reader in their crisp stories delivered with pitch perfect and deadpan dialog written as much for the ear as the eye. “The world’s a shit can, Morris. I told you. Don’t go kicking the can.”
“The Low Desert” is a “Southwest Book of the Year” Top Pick. The review originally was published in its latest publication.
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys, recommended by Dennis
Cristian Florescu, a high school student, lives in Romania prior to the fall of the iron curtain and under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. During Ceausescu’s leadership, Romanians are governed by rules, isolation, fear and force. Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He finds himself in a situation where he must betray the people he loves or try to undermine one of the evilest dictators in Eastern Europe. The novel is based on the lives of people interviewed by the author, and provides insight into life in Romania under Ceausescu’s rule. A memorable and impact read.
The Sign for Home by Blair Fell, recommended by Megan S.
Told in alternating viewpoints between an America Sign Language interpreter and his client, “The Sign for Home” is many things: a love story, an introduction into disability that many people don’t often encounter, a reckoning with abuse, and a novel of redemption. Arlo Dilly is a young man who has often been let down by people around him. He’s DeafBlind and relies on an assistance dog and his interpreters to navigate the world. One of those interpreters, Cyril, introduces him to a world of possibilities he never knew existed – but in doing so becomes more entangled with Arlo’s life than an interpreter should. “The Sign for Home” does quite a bit to introduce the reader to American Sign Language, tactile sign language, accessibility, and much more, but ultimately it’s a recognition and celebration that we’re all human and we all deserve the chance to live and enjoy our lives.
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, recommended by Trish
Katy is devastated by the loss of her mother. Her life’s center and best friend is gone. Katy goes on the planned mother-daughter trip to Italy by herself in hopes of recovering from the loss. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, but she befriends a much younger version of her mother. Katy learns about her mother’s past, how to love again and how to reconnect with her husband. Serle’s use of transcendence of time is refreshing.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley, recommended by Debbie
Ben’s sister Jess arrives in Paris thinking it will be a welcome fresh start – only it seems Ben has disappeared. She takes a shower and there aren’t any towels. Is it a clue – or is anything a clue? When I read the prologue, I assumed it would be a murder mystery. Great book, couldn’t put it down!
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Daves, recommended by Megan C.
Check out this modern mystery before it comes to the screen! “The Last Thing He Told Me” is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick that’s being adapted into a limited series on Apple TV+ this July. When Owen mysteriously disappears, his new wife Hannah and his daughter Bailey struggle to discover his true identity. Full of twists and turns, this book is perfect for someone looking to try out the mystery genre, without getting into too much gore or murder. Daves keeps readers guessing with a suspenseful storyline, vivid characters and an engaging amount of tension.
One Night on the Island: A Novel by Josie Silver, recommended by Karen
Cleo is sent to a remote Irish island for work. Mack is traveling to the same island for some soul-searching. Due to a booking mix-up, they have both reserved the same place for the same dates. The island ferry only arrives/departs once a week, so they try to make things work until the next ferry arrives. Are they able to do so? And what does happen once the ferry arrives? A charming story of how the things we think we want are not always the things we need.
Available in electronic format at Greater Phoenix Digital Library and Cloud Library.
Sweet Laurel Savory by Laurel Gallucci & Claire Thomas, recommended by Leah & Megan C.
Are you cooking for someone with special dietary needs, or just looking for some new wholesome recipes to try? “Sweet Laurel Savory” is a cookbook full of unique yummies that are gluten-free and refined sugar-free, with keto, paleo, dairy-free, and vegan options as well. This aesthetically pleasing book has so many eye-catching pictures, that you’re sure to grab your apron and get cooking! After seeing the Rainbow Tortilla pictures, we were convinced to try them out during our library cooking show Biblio Bites. We were then surprised to discover they were nut-free, vegan, and keto friendly (while also being a pretty addition to any plate). Not only is “Sweet Laurel Savory” full of natural meals, but also tips about cooking with basic substitutions like flax eggs, coconut yogurt, and vegan aioli.