Best New Books: Week of 7/10/2018

Summer’s biggest holiday has passed, so now that the fireworks displays are all over, and we will have significantly fewer barbecues to attend, we should all have a lot more time to read. Lucky for us this is a particularly busy week for new books. A whole host of literary fiction, suspense, mystery, romance, fantasy, historical fiction, and nonfiction titles are arriving at the library today. We have a sweeping family saga in modern day Hong Kong, a few buzzy thrillers, the latest essay collection by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella (who will be speaking here tomorrow evening), a unique spin on Rumplestiltskin, and even a comedic mystery featuring the bromantic detective duo of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Check out all of the week’s best titles below, and get reading!



FICTION



What We Were Promised by  Lucy Tan

what we were promisedAfter years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen, join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city.

One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina discovers that a childhood keepsake, an ivory bracelet, has gone missing. The incident contributes to a wave of unease that has begun to settle throughout the Zhen household. Wei, a marketing strategist, bows under the guilt of not having engaged in nobler work. Meanwhile, Lina, lonely in her new life of leisure, assumes the modern moniker taitai–a housewife who does no housework at all. She spends her days haunted by the circumstances surrounding her arranged marriage to Wei and her lingering feelings for his brother, Qiang. Lina and Wei take pains to hide their anxieties, but their housekeeper, Sunny, a hardworking girl with secrets of her own, bears witness to their struggles. When Qiang reappears in Shanghai after decades on the run with a local gang, the family must finally come to terms with the past.

From a silk-producing village in rural China, up the corporate ladder in suburban America, and back again to the post-Maoist nouveau riche of modern Shanghai, What We Were Promised explores the question of what we owe to our country, our families, and ourselves.

Description from Goodreads.

“With its measuring of expectation against reality, What We Were Promised establishes Tan as a new talent with a sharp eye for the intricacies of human relationships.” – Shelf Awareness

“Tan’s talent as a storyteller clearly shines through her strong plot lines and characterization; readers will want to know more about each well-crafted player in the story . . . . A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.” – Library Journal

“A luminous family saga” – Entertainment Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


Clock Dance by  Anne Tyler

clock danceWilla Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life: when she was eleven and her mother disappeared, being proposed to at twenty-one, the accident that would make her a widow at forty-one. At each of these moments, Willa ended up on a path laid out for her by others.

So when she receives a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help, she drops everything and flies across the country. The spur-of-the-moment decision to look after this woman – and her nine-year-old daughter, and her dog – will lead Willa into uncharted territory. Surrounded by new and surprising neighbours, she is plunged into the rituals that make a community and takes pleasure in the most unexpected things.

A bittersweet novel of hope and regret, fulfillment and renewal, Clock Dance brings us the everyday life of a woman who decides it’s never too late to change direction, and choose your own path.

Description from Goodreads.

Clock Dance pulls you right in and keeps on ticking . . . Filled with Tyler’s wry perspective on appealingly quirky, so-called ordinary people . . . Once again, she throws light on the human condition . . . Her novels reassure us that the possibilities for meaningful connection—which so often seem lost in our hectic world—are still out there.” – Newsday

“Stellar . . . A bittersweet, hope-filled look at two quirky families that have broken apart and are trying to find their way back to one another.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Written with brilliantly deceptive ease . . . So absorbing . . . Tyler’s Baltimore is universal, like Trollope’s Barchester, or Flaubert’s Normandy . . . Even though she performs narrative cartwheels that would lead other novelists to be praised as experimental, she does it with such ease that it seems closer to life than to art.” – The Mail on Sunday

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Lido by  Libby Page

lidoWe’re never too old to make new friends—or to make a difference.

Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.

The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she’s swam daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death.

Twenty-something Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

Description from Goodreads.

“Populated with endearing, multidimensional characters covering a wide span of ages and backgrounds, Page’s debut novel makes it easy for readers to imagine themselves in the mix…Page’s underdog tale can also inspire timely discussions about how to build diverse, place-based communities. A smart suggestion for book clubs and readers who enjoy substance with style.” – Booklist

“Heart-warming.” – Good Housekeeping

“This debut is set to be one of the biggest of the year.” – Grazia

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



MYSTERY & SUSPENSE



All These Beautiful Strangers by  Elizabeth Klehfoth

all these beautiful strangersIn the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Description from Goodreads.

“A compelling mystery…the story of a long-game revenge played out between generations.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of thrillers will have difficulty putting down this excellently plotted, gripping novel.” – School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“This is going to be big.” – Entertainment Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


Somebody’s Daughter by  David Bell

somebodys daughterWhen Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep pleading for help, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Erica’s nine-year-old daughter is missing–and Michael is the father. Unable to quickly determine if Erica is telling the truth, and unwilling to leave the little girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted and never knew he had.

But finding Felicity comes at a price–the closer Michael gets to the truth, the further into jeopardy his marriage falls and the faster his family begins to unravel. As lies that span a decade bubble to the surface and the window for Felicity’s safe return closes, Michael will have just a few short days to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth.

Description from Goodreads.

“Bell escorts readers on a ride-along through 12 adrenalin-charged hours as his characters track multiple leads in the search for a missing child…[a] heart-poundingly addictive thriller until the final page.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] riveting thriller…Bell turns an ordinary life into a tense roller-coaster ride filled with unexpected twists and turns.” – Publishers Weekly

“Bell puts a new twist on the missing-child theme in this fast-paced narrative that spans just 12 hours.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book


Hope Never Dies by  Andrew Shaffer

hope never diesVice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted—the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

Part noir thriller and part bromance novel, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fanfiction—and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] entertaining, offbeat whodunit…Fans of Carl Hiaasen’s comic crime novels will have fun.” – Publishers Weekly

“The cool, cerebral ex-POTUS is a reasonable stand-in for Sherlock Holmes, and his ex-VPOTUS, by turns appealingly modest and laughably self-satisfied, is in some ways a better Watson than the good doctor himself.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The beats of dialogue, the in-jokes, and the quips…make the book an entertaining light read.” – Lexington Herald-Reader

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Last Cruise by  Kate Christensen

last cruiseThe 1950s vintage ocean liner Queen Isabella is making her final voyage before heading to the scrapyard. For the guests on board, among them Christine Thorne, a former journalist turned Maine farmer, it’s a chance to experience the bygone mid-20th century era of decadent luxury cruising, complete with fine dining, classic highballs, string quartets, and sophisticated jazz. Smoking is allowed but not cell phones–or children, for that matter. The Isabella sets sail from Long Beach, CA into calm seas on a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back.

But this is the second decade of an uncertain new millennium, not the sunny, heedless fifties, and certain disquieting signs of strife and malfunction above and below decks intrude on the festivities. Down in the main galley, Mick Szabo, a battle-weary Hungarian executive sous-chef, watches escalating tensions among the crew. Meanwhile, Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist with the Sabra Quartet, becomes increasingly aware of the age-related vulnerabilities of the ship herself and the cynical corners cut by the cruise ship company, Cabaret.

When a time of crisis begins, Christine, Mick, and Miriam find themselves facing the unknown together in an unexpected and startling test of their characters.

Description from Goodreads.

“This sly novel from Christensen (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award for The Great Man) begins as a casual romp and then heads inexorably into darker territory.  The book steadily gains power as the boat loses its, and the portrayal of a small society on the edge of chaos is haunting. Christensen has crafted a Ship of Fools for an era of environmental concerns and social unrest.” – Publishers Weekly

“In her tale of a harrowing voyage at sea, [Kate Christensen] weaves together a perfect microcosm of the world today — overwhelming greed paired with selflessness and community; tribalism at its worst, and humanity at its best. At times hysterical, at times heartbreaking… This is a book that lingers with you long after you’ve finished reading.” – Portland Press Herald 

“Stunning… Christensen delivers another engrossing tale rich in character and social mores that reveals the fragile veneer of civilization.” – Shelf Awareness

Available Formats:

Print Book


Caged by  Ellison Cooper

cagedFBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiance, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who’d been slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage, Sayer is called in to lead the investigation. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a high profile senator, Sayer is thrust into the spotlight.

As public pressure mounts, she discovers that another girl has been taken and is teetering on the brink of death. With evidence unraveling around her, Sayer races to save the second victim but soon realizes that they are hunting a killer with a dangerous obsession…a killer who is closer than she thought.

Description from Goodreads.

“Pathologically twisted…A good choice for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.” – Library Journal

“Cooper’s relentless energetic storytelling elevates Caged beyond the typical serial killer novel as the author weaves in real science to create some unique twists.” – Washington Post

Available Formats:

Print Book



HISTORICAL FICTION



The Summer Wives by  Beatriz Williams

summer wivesIn the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound as a naive eighteen year old, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. Although a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia, Miranda has always lived on the margins of high society. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda is catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the Island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans–the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph has enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and has a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the Island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same–determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice to the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

Description from Goodreads.

“Engrossing and gripping, you will finish this book in one sitting.” – St. Louis Post Dispatch

“With just the right touch of bitters, Williams mixes a satisfyingly tempestuous—and eminently beachworthy—[follow-up] to her beloved Schuyler Sisters series.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

”Another hot book for summer from the prolific Williams… A romantic, multilayered tale.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook



ROMANCE



When We Found Home by  Susan Mallery

when we found homeLife is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old.

Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love.

But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit… until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family–blended by surprise, not by choice–and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Heartwarming…this book is sweet and will appeal to readers who enjoy the intricacies of family drama.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



SCI-FI & FANTASY



Spinning Silver by  Naomi Novik

spinning silverMiryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Description from Goodreads.

“…gorgeous, complex, and magical… rises well above a mere modern re- imagining of classic tales. This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…a thoughtful, emotionally complex, absorbing drama that stands confidently on its own merits.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…a lush, richly imagined, gloriously magical fantasy novel that takes its inspiration from Russian and Jewish folklore. A story full of adventure, wit, dangerous fey and clever queens, it is everything, EVERYTHING that a fairy tale for adults should be.” – All About Romance

Available Formats:

Print Book



NONFICTION



I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses by  Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella

i see life through rose colored glassesIn I See Life Through Rosé Colored-Glasses, the bestselling mother/daughter pair is back with another hilarious and heartfelt collection of essays about the possibilities and pitfalls of everyday life.

Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella’s delightful essays are sure to strike a chord with every woman. Their nine book series is among the best reviewed humor books published today, and has been compared to the late greats Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron.

Description from Goodreads.

“This summer beach read―which is indeed “like a glass of rosé, between two covers”―is sure to cheer readers spanning the generations.” – Publishers Weekly

“Guaranteed laughs: Short, sharp musings on life from perennially hilarious mom-daughter duo.” – Good Housekeeping

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook


From the Corner of the Oval by  Beck Dorey-Stein

from the corner of the ovalThe compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.

Description from Goodreads.

“Obama administration memoirs are rolling in, but in a refreshing twist From the Corner of the Oval swaps policy for good old-fashioned workplace drama. . . . Readers won’t find state secrets so much as they’ll get a glimpse at what life was really like working for the most historical of administrations. There are countless flights on Air Force One, late nights at four-star hotel bars in far-flung locations, and a bravely honest retelling of her workplace affair.” – Entertainment Weekly

“A fly on the wall of almost every important event from 2012 to 2017, Dorey-Stein relates the highs and lows of the Obama presidency intermixed with those from her personal life in a compulsively readable style—think history lesson meets soap opera. In this poignant, brutally honest, and often-funny work of self-reflection, Dorey-Stein pulls no punches and tells all she learned from and about the president who ‘taught me to look up.’” – Booklist

“Hilarious . . . Dorey-Stein writes with honesty and panache.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

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