When Knightly Press sales representative Amelia Loman takes the ferry to Alice Island to meet with A. J. Fikry, the owner of Island Books, she goes with optimism. But when Mr. Fikry likes nothing on her list and disparages the memoir that she loves, Amelia leaves his office in tears, chagrined at his boorish behavior. Of course, this is a love story. What else could it be? The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin has mystery, romance, child-rearing and book recommendations rolled into one fast-paced and funny novel. It is perfect for a June getaway. —Maureen Millea Smith
Give some thought to an invigorating red wine this summer. The northern regions of Italy, snuggling into the countries of Austria and Switzerland, are home to a wide variety of light-bodied reds.
Two grapes from this region are Schiava and Lagrein. Schiava produces a light-bodied red, low in tannin, allowing it to pair perfectly with grilled seafood or a zesty strawberry/spinach summer salad. Lagrein flavors range from dark Bing cherry to blueberries and whipped cream. One of the tastiest Lagreins is from Weingut Niklas. It’s loaded with notes of blackberry, cassis, black pepper and blueberries, making this a perfect pair to anything off the grill. Cin Cin! —Leslee Miller
My pick for June is Ray Sings, Basie Swings, which features some of the greatest Ray Charles vocals of all time. The original recording happened in Europe in 1973, with Count Basie and his orchestra. And although Ray’s vocals were stellar, the big band wasn’t recorded very well. So the producers of this CD recut the big-band sound with the 2006 Count Basie Orchestra, and even though the title says “Basie,” he isn’t actually on the recording. This CD includes many favorites like “Georgia On Mind” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Who doesn’t get up on June mornings and sing to themselves, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” when the air is crisp and the sky is blue? Ray Charles could really tell a story through song. —Patty Peterson