--It’s a very good month to be a Wisconsin author. This May sees the release of three titles with ties to the Badger State. Longtime local favorite Jennifer Chiaverini continues to explore the lives of real women through a historical fiction lens with Resistance Women. Her central character, Mildred Fish-Harnack, was raised in Milwaukee before moving to Germany where she worked as a spy against the Nazis. It’s on shelves mid-month. Madison-based author Kelly Harms scored recent hits with The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay and The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane. Her latest, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, follows a woman given a brief reprieve from the demands of parenthood to pursue a life in New York far different from the one she had been leading. But when her summer of freedom comes to an end, Amy finds her choices aren’t so clear. Finally, Madison’s David Maraniss combines history with his personal story in A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father. Elliott Maraniss was a veteran whose interests in left-leaning politics and racial justice caught the attention of the House Unamerican Activities Committee and led to Maraniss being blackballed in journalist circles and turmoil for the family before a changing political landscape finally freed him of persecution. Booklist called it “a beautifully realized account of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.” David Maraniss will speak about A Good American Family as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival on May 28 at Central Library.
--Much like the changing of leaves through the seasons, the images on covers seems to echo the changing of reading interests. So one shouldn’t be surprised to start seeing more beachy scenes appearing on new releases, and May is effectively the start of summer reading season. Perennial sandy favorites Dorothea Benton Frank and Mary Kay Andrews offer new sunny escapes to Carolina low country (Queen Bee) and Florida (Sunset Beach) respectively. If warm water isn’t your thing, Sarah Blake heads north with The Guest Book, where a multi-generational family saga is set among the wilds of a Maine island estate. If even that sounds a bit too balmy, Ragnar Jonasson’s The Island mixes murder and a scenic island off the Icelandic coast. In this prequel to 2018’s The Darkness, Jonasson has his Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir investigate when a reunion trip results in the murder of one of four people on the scenic but haunted island. Jonasson’s chilly thriller appears on shelves May 21.
--For a real escape read, there are some notable science fiction and fantasy titles appearing this month. Patricia Briggs continues her popular Mercy Thompson series with Storm Cursed, Hugo- and Nebula-award winning author Ted Chiang (author of Arrival) delivers another through-provoking story collection with Exhalation. Seanan McGuire mixes child horror stories and alchemy with her standalone novel Middlegame; Kirkus calls it “Satisfying on all levels of the reading experience: thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral.” Two giants in the field turn to a similar period of history with their fantasy novels: Guy Gavriel Kay returns to renaissance Italy-inspired Batiara, the world of his Children of Earth and Sky with his latest work, A Brightness Long Ago. And Jo Walton takes as inspiration the renaissance era priest Savonarola in her time travel fantasy Lent.
Click on through for the full list of titles. Happy reading!