Books For Every Fancy

What’s summertime without a good book to read? Here’s a selection of new titles from several genres—including some from local writers—sure to suit just about anybody’s taste.

Compiled by Sally Haskins


Ship Captain’s Daughter    

Midwest native Ann Lewis documents her childhood growing up as a shipping captain’s daughter on the Great Lakes. The different rhythm of the Great Lakes thawing and freezing meant so much more for Lewis as a child: months of waiting for short trips to see her father at various ports. As their lives revolved around the success of the shipping industry, Lewis’ family led an unusual life at times waiting for the patriarch to return home from one of his 13 ships. Lewis shares vivid and unusual story with readers. (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)

The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names    

Writer Robert E. Gard made his way across Wisconsin to learn the stories behind the names of cities, counties and local places over 50 years ago. Now, in a reprinted edition, summer travelers can bring along a fun guide on their travels throughout the state. Gard found local trivia and hometown lore of Wisconsin small towns in every corner of the state, working to find meanings and stories behind the often-unusual names. Historian Jerry Apps provides the introduction and says the book is “where story, people and place all come together.” (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)

My Son Wears Heels     

Milwaukee-native Julie Tarney was raising her 2-year-old son in the early 1990s when he declared, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” With very few resources and support groups available, Tarney felt lost and unsure of what to do next. With no map to guide her, Tarney set off and followed her instincts to keep her son as happy as possible while feeling confident of himself. Her story of raising her son from toddler to adult with a definite gender identity is heartfelt and defines a loving mother. (University of Wisconsin Press, Sept. 6 release)

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay  

Madison author Kelly Harms weaves a tale about Lily, a young painter who is stuck in her life. As she’s forced to leave her city apartment for something cheaper, she comes across a letter detailing the action needed to finalize an annulment from a Vegas wedding ten years prior. Her focus turns to finding the man she fell for all those years ago, the charming and fun Ben Hutchinson. Ben left a wealthy life to return to his quiet hometown of Minnow Bay, living happily with his family. Lily shows up by chance in Minnow Bay and discovers more possibilities than the husband she forgot she had. (Thomas Dunne Books, Aug. 9 release)

The Excellent Lombards  

Stoughton author Jane Hamilton is back with the coming-of-age story of Mary Frances “Frankie” Lombard, a teenager who loves her family’s apple orchard. Her love of life the way everything is right now changes Frankie’s perspective when she realizes change is inevitable. Her faith in her life as she knows it is shaken once news of possible urbanization and disinheritance goes public. Frankie needs to let go of the ideas she had as a child for her family’s future by deciding whether to hold tight or let go to something you love. (Grand Central Publishing)

Luck, Love & Lemon Pie   

Milwaukee-area author Amy E. Reichert introduces us to MJ Boudreaux, a wife and mother with a husband, Chris, who’s more interested in the casino than in their family. MJ decides to try her hand at poker in an attempt to spend more time with him, but discovers she has a natural gift for the game. MJ finds herself turning to the poker table for comfort as things at home get worse. She finds a place for herself outside her role as mother and wife, bringing her to Vegas after her winning streak continues, but the choice between her family and the glamorous lifestyle she’s being offered could be her biggest risk yet.  (Gallery Books)



The Quickest Kid in Clarksville    

Author Pat Zietlow Miller began her writing career as a sports reporter with a strong interest in track and field sprinter Wilma Rudolph. Now the Madison-based author brings a fictional story of a little girl, Alta, competing with the new girl, Charmaine, in a race to see who relates most to the legendary Olympian. Alta quickly learns that her beat up shoes may not be as fancy as Charmaine’s, but their hearts are both on the same track. (Chronicle, February release)

Sophie’s Squash Go to School    

Pat Zietlow Miller’s follow-up to her original “Sophie’s Squash” brings young readers the lesson of staying loyal to your friends while making new ones. Sophie’s first day of school brings her jitters, but having her best friends at her side (baby squash Bonnie and Baxter) make her confident enough to tackle the day. The other kids, however, aren’t so accepting; they ask if they can eat the squash! When Steven Green tries to be Sophie’s friend, she quickly makes sure he knows she has enough friends—that is, until the squash become too tired to play anymore. (Random House, late June release)


The Inseparables   

Henrietta must deal with the backlash when she agrees to reissue a highly scandalous book she wrote years ago. Her daughter, Oona, is dealing with a messy divorce from a deadbeat husband and must move back in with her mother. Oona’s daughter, Lydia, is facing ridicule from her boarding school classmates following a nude photo leak. This multi-generational novel looks at how a family reinvents itself and the individual identities that make the whole new again. (Little, Brown)

Here’s to Us

Laurel, Belinda and Scarlett are all married to Deacon Thorpe and despise one another. Their mutual understanding of avoiding the other families over the years has worked so far, but things come crashing down when Deacon suddenly dies at his summer cottage. The three very different women must come together with their children, per Deacon’s request, and share the cottage for the summer to sort out his affairs. Each wife has secrets to hide and memories made with Deacon, but can the women come together to celebrate the life of the man they all loved? (Little, Brown)

When writer Grace Hammond finds herself single, jobless and without an apartment, she heads back to her small hometown to rediscover herself. She’s great at fixing other people’s errors with her grammar skills, but can’t figure out how to get her own life together. Her stay in the sleepy Connecticut hometown forces Grace to come to terms with a tragedy from her past, along with more than one love interest. Her choice between a possible glamorous life with one man and a more familiar life with another is depicted in this novel of self-discovery. (Little, Brown)


Dead Loudmouth        

On a quiet summer morning in Loon Lake, the community is shaken to learn of a tragedy the night before at the local gentleman’s club. The victim is the club owner and wealthy member of a private fishing and hunting preserve society. When Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris calls on her friend to help solve the case, the pair discover that the accident was a murder and turn to fishing and tracking expert Ray Pradt for more help. Summer in Loon Lake has never looked so dark in the frantic search for answers. (Tyrus Books)


Love & Friendship

Lady Susan is a witty, self-absorbed widow on a search for new love for her and her coming-of-age daughter. Their money is going fast and Lady Susan attempts to find new husbands and secure their futures in the socialite world. Her efforts are noticed by the town and she becomes known as “the most accomplished coquette in England,” forcing Lady Susan to go back to square one. The women seek refuge at a family member’s country estate to escape the rumors and create their new plan for love. (Little, Brown)

Imagine Me Gone  

Beginning in 1960s London, Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression. She must choose whether to stay with him despite the suffering it may bring her, or run from the big responsibility. When Margaret decides to marry John as intended, the story changes viewpoints to see the repercussions of her decision and how it made an impact on her children’s lives. The love of a mother for her children and a woman for her husband is told in this beautiful, yet frequently funny novel. (Little, Brown)

The Bones of Paradise  

Set 10 years after the battle at Wounded Knee, two very different women are brought together by the murders of their loved ones. Dulcinea, returning from self-exile, desperately wants to reconnect her broken family and claim the land that her husband left behind. Rose struggles to come to terms with her sister’s death and seeks revenge after all her people have been through. The secrets of Dulcinea’s family are exposed through the investigation of the murders, while the nation caught between its past and future clings to the authenticity of its history. (HarperCollins)


My Journey with Maya    

Tavis Smiley brings readers the story of his 28-year friendship with Maya Angelou. Despite a 37-year age difference, the two met in 1986 when the new college graduate was invited to join Angelou on a visit to Africa. His job was to handle her bags, but Angelou’s selfless manner brought the two together for an unlikely friendship. Angelou positioned herself as a maternal mentor figure for Smiley, talking about all topics in her gardens and while on the road for lectures. Smiley writes of the personal impact Angelou made on him, just as she impacted the world. (Little, Brown,)

 Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube     

At 18, Blair Braverman left her California home with a one-way ticket to Norway where she learned to drive sled dogs. Soon enough she found herself as a tour guide on an Alaskan glacier, facing her fears and adapting to life as a “tough girl” while tackling danger on a daily basis. Her determination to prove she belongs in the Great White North alongside the gutsy explorers inspires readers page after page. Braverman shares her fears, including the possibility of losing her sled dog team or getting lost in the icy tundra, in this memoir of newfound independence and bravery. (HarperCollins)

Rise of the Rocket Girls   

The 1940s and ‘50s brought America the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which needed mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories. Surprisingly, supervisors turned to an elite group of women armed with a pencil, paper and their mathematical skills to help. Breaking boundaries of gender and space, the women known as “human computers” brought the first American satellites to life and made it possible for the solar system to be explored. Author Nathalia Holt speaks to members of the team and looks at where we’re heading with women in science. (Little, Brown)

The Rival Queens   

Set in Renaissance France, Queen Catherine de’Medici and her daughter, Queen Marguerite de Valois, can’t see eye to eye on how their kingdom should run. The personalities between the women are extremely opposite; Catherine is more ruthless while Marguerite is a free spirit. When Catherine orders Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin against her will, Catherine uses the wedding to create conflict within both France and her own family. This historical epic is a true story of mother and daughter power mixed with court politics and clashing personalities. (Little, Brown)

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