Scene | Great Reads
Send for Me
By Lauren Fox
Set in World War II Germany and present-day Wisconsin, “Send for Me” uncovers the story of a family who fled to the Midwest in the years before World War II. Annelise works in her parent’s bakery in Germany, dreaming of her future. As anti-Jewish sentiment grows in Germany, Annelise is given the chance to leave Germany with her husband and young daughter but is forced to leave her parents behind to an uncertain future. Many years later in Wisconsin, Annelise’s granddaughter Clare is dreaming of her own future when she finds a stash of Annelise’s letters, uncovering years of her family’s sacrifices and heartbreaks that sheds new light on her family’s past and future.
Out of Water
By Sarah Read
This horror short story collection offers up a menagerie of dark, unsettling stories that are perfect for a fall evening. Full of atmosphere, tension, and secrets, each story offers up a variety of enigmatic characters and situations. From archeologists at ancient burial sites to a mother and son tentatively trying to rebuild their broken relationship, horrifying events unfold to lure the reader into dark, fantastical tales. Read’s language is rich, and despite the chilling events, you’ll find yourself eagerly turning the page, desperate to discover what happens next.
Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters
By Anita Kushwaha
An intergenerational story about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters, three women find themselves bonded by the secrets they keep from their daughters. Veena, Mala, and Nandini are very different women, but they are haunted by their decisions and unforeseen consequences. Nandini’s daughter Asha is shocked to discover on her eighteenth birthday that she was adopted. Veena, recently widowed, agonizes about her daughter’s future. And Mala must carry her own secret, the burden of which threatens her mother’s ambitions. The unfolding family drama is a story full of heartbreak, love, and hope.
Lauren Fox, Sarah Read, Anita Kushwaha, and many more authors will be guests at the Fox Cities Book Festival, October 14-16, 2021, for more information about the authors and events, head to foxcitiesbookfestival.org
The Henna Artist
By Alka Joshi
This lush and vivid novel set in 1950s India was an amazingly immersive read. A young woman named Lakshmi escapes an abusive marriage to make her own way in the city of Jaipur. On the cusp of modernity, the ancient city is the perfect place for Lakshmi to make a name for herself as a henna artist. Her burgeoning talent finds her catering to the wealthy society ladies of Jaipur. But even as she is welcomed into their upper-class world, Lakshmi must keep her own secrets to secure her precarious position in a world where reputation is everything. Her plans come crashing to a halt when her estranged husband tracks her down, this time with Lakshmi’s long-lost sister in tow. An intense and heartwarming journey of self-discovery and love.
By David Heska Wanbli Weiden
A gritty crime novel for fans of thrillers and vigilante justice. Set on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, our story follows local hired muscle Virgil Wounded Horse. When the justice system fails, people call Virgil to deliver justice for them. But when hard drugs start finding their way onto the reservation, Virgil decides to take matters into his own hands to stop it. On a trail that leads him from drug cartels in Denver to corruption in his own hometown, Virgil has to figure out how far one man can go to face his own demons, and to change the tide of suffering in his community.
This Simplicity of Cider
By Amy E. Reichert
This cozy romantic novel is perfect for orchard season in Wisconsin. Set in our very own Door County, this novel follows Sanna Lund, a woman struggling to keep her family’s orchard running. With her brother not helping matters, she is trying to convince her father to give her time to turn the business around instead of selling the land to developers. When single father Isaac Banks comes to town with his ten-year-old son, they bring much needed help to the orchard. But Isaac has his own troubles to contend with, from shielding his son from his troubled mother to balancing his burgeoning feelings for Sanna. A lighthearted and warm love story set against a picturesque backdrop that is sure to remind readers of their favorite summer memories.
Alka Joshi, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Amy E. Reichert, and many more authors will be guests at the Fox Cities Book Festival, October 14-16, 2021. For more information about the authors and events, head to foxcitiesbookfestival.org
By Alex Michaelides
Fans of “The Silent Patient” will love the latest psychological thriller by Alex Michaelides. Set in England at Cambridge University, group therapist Mariana Andros becomes obsessed with discovering who murdered the friend of her niece. Her main suspect is the classics professor Edward Fosca, who has a cult-like following amongst his female students. Mariana’s obsession with the murder spirals out of control, testing her relationships and her reputation as she seeks to prove that Edward is the murderer. Full of Greek mythology and set against the moody atmosphere of the elite university, this thriller was full of twists that had me guessing at every turn.
Sisters in Arms
By Kaia Alderson
This historical novel follows the women of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Grace Steele and Eliza Jones are among the first class of female officers, traveling a long way from their homes in Harlem to navigating the segregated U.S. Army while stationed overseas in Europe. Among the first Black women to serve, Grace and Eliza know that the pressure is on them to prove that they are just as capable and worthy of serving their country. Based on the true story of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, these women delivered mail and packages from loved ones to American servicemen battling on the front lines during World War II.
Incense and Sensibility
By Sonali Dev
In this third installment of The Rajes series, Dev continues her Jane Austen inspired retellings with an Indian American twist. California gubernatorial candidate Yash Raje has pursued his campaign with single minded dedication. But when a hate-fueled attack wounds him, he can no longer take the stage without crippling fear. His need to get back on the campaign trail leads him to stress management coach India Dashwood. Though their paths had crossed ten years ago, neither had planned on seeing the other again, and confronting the passion that continues to burn under the surface threatens to overturn everything they have worked to achieve. Full of heart and the warmth of family that Dev writes so well, she continues to be a favorite. If you’d like to read the first book, then check out “Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors.”
“After all, everyone’s entitled to be the hero of their own story. So I must be permitted to be the hero of mine. Even though I’m not. I’m the villain.”
By Angeline Boulley
Daunis Fontaine is a biracial young woman who has struggled to fit in among the community of her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie and the nearby Ojibwe reservation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After a series of tragic deaths and brushes with criminal activity, Daunis must go undercover to root out corruption to protect her community. This story is a rich union of Anishinaabe language and tradition that blends seamlessly with a crime investigation set in mid-2000s Michigan. One of my highlights of the year has been reading this debut novel from Angeline Boulley. Although the book is written for a teen audience, this crime thriller is immensely enjoyable for readers of all ages. At times heartbreaking and yet full of healing, this book explores every facet of family and community.
By Steven Rowley
“The Guncle” is a hilarious and heartwarming novel about an unsuspecting uncle having to care for his niece and nephew over the summer. Patrick, lovingly known as Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short) has always loved spending time with his niece and nephew during short visits and holidays. But as a once-famous sitcom star living in Palm Springs, he doesn’t have much time for children with his Hollywood lifestyle (think Auntie Mame, but with a gay man). When tragedy strikes and leaves the six- and nine-year-old in his care, he must learn fast to push aside his own grief to care for his brother’s children. A witty novel about love and family, the depth, humor, and heart of this story will have you reaching for the tissues and laughing out loud.
Humankind: A Hopeful History
By Rutger Bregman
This thought-provoking take on the innate goodness of humanity was a grounding read. Rutger Bregman is a Dutch historian who has studied and written about history, philosophy, and economics. His book examines several moments in history in order to debunk long-held myths regarding whether humans are by nature selfish and self-interested. He takes us through stories from apartheid in South Africa, World War II, and stories of survival on deserted islands to explore the idea that humans are ultimately wired for cooperation rather than competition. He builds on his research to propose new ways to structure work, school, and other organizations that can benefit from this theory of human nature. A positive take on our relationship with our fellow man, it was an interesting read that explored many aspects of history and social science.
“When someone dies, everything about them becomes past tense. Except for the grief. Grief stays in the present. It’s even worse when you’re angry at the person. Not just for dying. But for how.”
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
By Mark Sullivan
In 1943 in Milan, Italy, Pino Lella is a teenager who is more concerned about chasing girls than a war that still feels so far away. But when Milan is bombed and his family home is destroyed, Pino begins working in secret for the Allied Forces. Through circumstances out of his control, he becomes a driver for a Nazi General in Italy, but his position soon allows him to uncover secrets for the resistance. The book is based on the real life of Pino Lella, and Sullivan spent three weeks interviewing Lella to learn as much as possible about the man’s experiences resisting the Nazis in Italy. Though this is a fictional account of Lella’s life, many of the harrowing events are based on real events, and it is a fascinating story of courage during World War II.
A Lowcountry Bride
By Preslaysa Williams
This sweet romance set in Charleston, South Carolina is a perfect read for summer. As a Black Filipina, Maya is working hard to make a name for herself at a bridal fashion design house in New York, but her boss doesn’t see the beauty in Maya’s original designs. When her father has an unexpected fall back home in Charleston, Maya rushes home to help him. There she meets Derek Sullivan, a retired Navy captain with struggles of his own. After the passing of his mother last year, Derek is struggling to keep his mother’s former business afloat. The bridal boutique was everything to his mother, and he will do everything he can to keep the business alive to one day pass on to his own daughter. However, he is still reeling from the tragic death of his wife and struggling to raise his teenage daughter. Maya and Derek work together to make their dreams, and love, blossom.
My Remarkable Journey
By Katherine Johnson
This memoir from NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (as portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”) finally let’s Johnson tell her own story in detail. She began working on the book alongside writers Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore to chronicle her amazing life. Born in West Virginia in 1918, Johnson lived an amazing 101 years before passing away in 2020. Johnson delivers an amazing and grounding memoir about her life as a Black woman in science, but also gives us a century of racial history in the United States as well as the role of educators at segregated schools and historically Black colleges and universities that gave her the tools to pursue her dreams. A fitting reminder of the importance of education, Johnson is an inspiration.