Best New Books: Week of 1/9/2018

You can tell the Holiday season is officially over as the publishing industry is in full swing. A number of notable releases come out this week, ranging from literary fiction to sci-fi to historical fiction to buzzy suspense. The Immortalists, The Wife Between Us, Grist Mill Road, and The Boat People in particular are receiving a lot of early praise. Peruse the list below and see if anything catches your eye, and then let us know what you think after you read them!



FICTION



The Immortalists by  Chloe Benjamin

immortalistsIf you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

Description from Goodreads.

“An imaginative and satisfying family saga…A cleverly structured novel steeped in Jewish lore and the history of four decades of American life. The four Gold siblings are wonderful creations, and in Benjamin’s expert hands their story becomes a moving meditation on fate, faith, and the family ties that alternately hurt and heal.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Search no further for your inaugural 2018 book club pick.” – Elle

“Beautifully written and intricately detailed, it’s impossible to put down and sure to be one of those books you’ve got to re-read again and again.” – Popsugar

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The  Wife Between Us by  Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekannen

wife between usA novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

The Wife Between Us is the debut novel of co-authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Hendricks, a former book editor with a major New York publishing house, lives in Manhattan with her family. Pekkanen, the author of seven bestselling solo novels, lives in Maryland with her three sons. The Wife Between Us has been sold in 30 countries and optioned for film by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. It is a Book of the Month Club Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and an Indie Next Pick. Hendricks and Pekkanen are currently at work on their next novel, also a psychological thriller.

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers who were enthralled by B.A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl will love the skewed psychology and shifting perspectives of this domestic thriller.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] jaw-dropping psychological thriller. This is not another eye-rolling story about the jealous ex-wife stalking her replacement…Unforgettable twists lead to shocking revelations all the way through the epilogue.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway


The Boat People by  Sharon Bala

boat peopleWhen a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war reaches Vancouver’s shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the “boat people” are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks—and that these terrorists now pose a threat to Canada’s national security. As the refugees become subject to heavy interrogation, Mahindan begins to fear that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son’s chance for asylum.

Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis.

Description from Goodreads.

“This earnest debut novel forcefully explores the issues surrounding immigration…deeply moving and nuanced, The Boat People asks what price a country is willing to pay when public safety comes at the cost of human lives.” – Booklist

“Brisk, bracing and astonishingly prescient…Bala is ahead by a century in the cricket store of politically powerful fiction.” – Atlantic Books Today

Available Formats:

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HISTORICAL FICTION



Fools and Mortals by  Bernard Cornwell

fools and mortalsA dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, Fools and Mortals takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

Description from Goodreads.

“Cornwell is superb with mood and setting, whether ugly—London’s ‘reek of sewage and smoke’—or elegant: ‘city churches mangled the air by striking eleven’…. A master craftsman at work: imaginative, intelligent, and just plain fun.” – Kirkus Reviews

“As skillful a blend of history and fiction as any novelist can achieve…. Anyone reading ‘Fools and Mortals’ will not see or read Shakespeare the same again.” – San Antonio Express-News

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The English Wife by  Lauren Willig

english wifeFrom the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

Description from Goodreads.

“Willig has a knack for creating sympathetic characters and fully fleshed settings, adding some juicy plot twists to this atmospheric period piece.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A dark and scintillating tale.” -Pam Jenoff; The Orphan’s Tale

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway


A Dangerous Crossing by  Rachel Rhys

dangerous crossingThe ship has been like a world within itself, a vast floating city outside of normal rules. But the longer the journey continues, the more confined it is starting to feel, deck upon deck, passenger upon passenger, all of them churning around each other without anywhere to go…

1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.

But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.

Description from Goodreads.

A vividly descriptive ride from this enticingly mysterious author, leading up to a killer ending we did not see coming.” – Marie Claire

“Rhys captures the essence of the era, class structure, prejudice and fear of war…Suspense is built from the opening page until the jaw dropping ending due to her sharp plotting. Readers will be completely absorbed in every aspect of the characters’ lives, the voyage and two murders. Dangerous Crossing is a tale to savor.” – RT Book Reviews, TOP PICK

Available Formats:

Print Book



MYSTERY & SUSPENSE



Grist Mill Road by  Christopher Yates

grist mill roadGrist Mill Road is a dark and twisty Rashomon-style narrative which is expertly plotted. The year is 1982, the setting an Edenic hamlet some 90 miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends—Patrick, Matthew and Hannah— are bound together by a single, terrible, and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves could never have predicted, the three meet again–with even more devastating results.

Here is a triple helix of a story structure, a sharp-edged love triangle complete with an Atonement style revelation. Character-driven, gorgeously written and wrenching, it exposes the poisonous resentments, sexual longings, and reservoirs of violence that roil just below the orderly surface of small town life.

Description from Goodreads.

“The plot is darkly, intricately layered, full of pitfalls and switchbacks, smart and funny and moving and merciless; the characters are all that and more. This is a powerful exploration of how truth isn’t a complete and immutable thing, or a pure force of redemption: it’s made up of broken shards that lie buried somewhere in the spaces between people, and when the jagged edges work their way to the surface, they can be devastating.” ―Tana French; In the Woods

“Dark, intense, and disturbing, Christopher Yates’ Grist Mill Road begins with a shock and keeps the suspense burning page after page. A thriller with imagination to spare. Highly recommended.” ―Krysten Ritter; Bonfire

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Black Painting by  Neil Olson

black paintingAn old-money East Coast family faces the suspicious death of its patriarch and the unsolved theft of a Goya painting rumored to be cursed.

There were four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them has visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.

Description from Goodreads.

“The volatility of memory, the treacherous crucible of family lore, and the myths and mysteries of Goya’s Black Paintings all come hypnotically together in Neil Olson’s outstanding novel. With taut, confident prose and breathless plotting, Olson leads us through a dark and dazzling kaleidoscope of a story. Here is a writer to watch.” – Paula McLain; The Paris Wife

“The Black Painting is a fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters caught in a web of family lies, deceits, secrets, mental instability and a possible murder. This powerful tale of love and betrayal centers around a sinister painting that may, or may not, be haunted. A real page-turner.” -B.A. Shapiro; The Art Forger

Available Formats:

Print Book


Operator Down by  Brad Taylor

operator downFormer Delta Force Officer and New York Times bestselling author Brad Taylor delivers a heart-pounding thriller where Pike Logan’s search for a Mossad agent and ally puts him on a collision course with a ruthless military coup in Africa—and tests his loyalties to the Taskforce.

It was to be a simple mission. Nothing more than assessing whether a merchant in the fabled Israeli Diamond Exchange was involved in a scheme that could potentially embarrass the state of Israel. But nothing is ever simple in the world of intelligence, as Aaron Bergman—a former leader of an elite direct action team under the Mossad—should have known. Executing the operation as a contractor, a cutout that gave the State of Israel plausible deniability, he disappears without a trace.

Pike Logan and his team know none of this, but he’s tracking an American arms dealer in Tel Aviv who may—or may not—be attempting to sell sensitive nuclear weapons components to the highest bidder. When Pike’s team breaks up an attempt at killing Shoshana, Aaron’s partner, they stumble upon much more than they expected—a concerted conspiracy to topple a democratic African country.

Beginning to untangle a web that extends through both the American and Israeli intelligence community, Pike is forced to choose between his Israeli friends and his Taskforce mission, even as the execution of the coup begins to form. At the heart of it is Aaron, and his disappearance is the one mistake the plotters made. Because Shoshana is the greatest killing machine the Mossad has ever produced, and she will stop at nothing to help Aaron, even if it means killing Pike Logan.

Description from Goodreads.

“Former Delta Force officer Taylor relies on his familiarity with modern combat logistics to create credible characters and complex plots that pulse with intense intrigue, authenticity, and realism. Fans of military thrillers will enjoy how this narrative mirrors current events in the worldwide war on terror.” – Library Journal

“As usual in the Pike Logan series, the spycraft and related technology are fascinating, the dialogue crackles, and all the players are operating in an international sea of moral ambiguity. Recommend Pike Logan to readers who like their spies tough, smart, and bordering on superhuman.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway | eBook


The Chalk Man by  C.J. Tudor

chalk manIn 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT…[the] first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980’s will enjoy the nostalgia.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Utterly Hypnotic. The Chalk Man is a dream novel, a book of nightmares: haunted and haunting, shot through with shadow and light – a story to quicken the pulse and freeze the blood. A dark star is born.” – A.J. Finn; The Woman in the Window
 
“What a great book. A twisty thriller and downright creepy ending. Five stars.”
—Sarah Pinborough; Behind Her Eyes

Available Formats:

Print Book



SCI-FI & HORROR



Gnomon by  Nick Harkaway

gnomonFrom the widely acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World and Tigerman, a virtuosic new novel and his most ambitious book yet–equal parts dark comedy, gripping detective story, and mind-bending philosophical puzzle–set in a not-too-distant-future, high-tech surveillance state.

In the world of Gnomon, citizens are ceaselessly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody during a routine interrogation, Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector, is assigned to the case. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, she finds a panorama of characters and events that Hunter gave life to in order to forestall the investigation: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game. In the static between these mysterious visions, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter–and, alarmingly, of herself, the staggering consequences of which will reverberate throughout the world. Gnomon is a dazzling, panoramic achievement from one of the most original voices in contemporary fiction.

Description from Goodreads.

“Beguiling, multilayered, sprawling novel that blends elements of Philip K. Dick-tinged sci-fi, mystery, politics, and literary fiction in a most satisfying brew. . . Fans of Pynchon and William Gibson alike will devour this smart, expertly written bit of literary subversion.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Gnomon is an extraordinary novel, and one I can’t stop thinking about some weeks after I read it. It is deeply troubling, magnificently strange, and an exhilarating read.” – Emily St. John Mandel; Station Eleven

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Continuum by  Wendy Nikel

continuumElise Morley is an expert on the past who’s about to get a crash course in the future.

For years, Elise has been donning corsets, sneaking into castles, and lying through her teeth to enforce the Place in Time Travel Agency’s ten essential rules of time travel. Someone has to ensure that travel to the past isn’t abused, and most days she welcomes the challenge of tracking down and retrieving clients who have run into trouble on their historical vacations.

But when a dangerous secret organization kidnaps her and coerces her into jumping to the future on a high-stakes assignment, she’s got more to worry about than just the time-space continuum. For the first time ever, she’s the one out-of-date, out of place, and quickly running out of time.

Description from Goodreads.

“Nikel’s inventive spin on time travel and eye for sumptuous detail make her writing a treat to read.” – Publishers Weekly

“Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech… Her characters manifest their time stream’s habits and inflections brilliantly…” – Unreliable Narrators

Available Formats:

Print Book



NONFICTION



A Celebration of Animation by  Marty Gitlin & Joe Wos

celebration of animationFew morose thoughts permeate the brain when Yosemite Sam calls Bugs Bunny a, “long-eared galut,” or a frustrated Homer Simpson blurts out his famous catch-word, “D’oh!” A Celebration of Animation explores the best-of-the-best cartoon characters from the 1920s to the 21st century. Casting a wide net, it includes characters both serious and humorous, and ranging from silly to malevolent. But all the greats gracing this book are sure to trigger nostalgic memories of carefree Saturday mornings or after-school hours with family and friends in front of the TV set.

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers may disagree with the individual rankings—Bugs Bunny at #1, Homer Simpson at #2—but the authors succeed in their goal of capturing a near definitive list of animated legends in this thoughtful and funny book.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book

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