Best New Books: Week of 12/4/2018

Mystery lovers rejoice! This week’s best new books feature 4 diverse titles that fit squarely into your preferred genre. We have a folklore-tinged tale, a dark crime story, a topical bit of literary mystery, and a witty cozy. Nonfiction readers also get several titles to choose from and historical fiction and romance are each represented once as well. One book each for children and young adults rounds things out this week.



MYSTERY



Once Upon a River by  Diane Setterfield

once upon a riverA dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

Description from Goodreads.

“Setterfield masterfully assembles an ensemble of wounded, vulnerable characters who, nevertheless, live by the slimmest margins of hope–hope that springs from family, from the search for meaning, from people’s decency to strangers, from the belief that truth heals and sets one free . . . Celebrates the timeless secrets of life, death and imagination–and the enduring power of words. Fans, rejoice!” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“The heart of the story are the relationships that twist and turn, as if they also follow the river.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

” As Setterfield juggles a colorful mob of characters whose lives are upended by the mysterious young girl, the joy of storytelling permeates every moment in this lively and wise historical novel.” – Amazon Book Review

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Broken Ground by  Val McDermid

broken groundSix feet under in a Highland peat bog lies Alice Somerville’s inheritance, buried by her grandfather at the end of World War II. But when Alice finally uncovers it, she finds an unwanted surprise–a body with a bullet hole between the eyes. Meanwhile, DCI Pirie is called in to unravel a case where nothing is quite as it seems. And as she gets closer to the truth, it becomes clear that not everyone shares her desire for justice. Or even the idea of what justice is.

An engrossing, twisty thriller, Broken Ground reaffirms Val McDermid’s place as one of the best crime writers of her generation.

Description from Goodreads.

“Val McDermid’s DCI Karen Pirie is a realistic figure, rooted in research and acting in accordance with the law. She is one of McDermid’s most appealing sleuths . . . McDermid writes with warmth and authority, building Karen’s cases with conviction and making the reader root for her in every possible way. You know you’re in safe hands from the first page.” – BookOxygen

“There’s a reason readers around the world look forward to a new book by the ‘queen of crime’ and Val McDermid’s legions of fans will not be disappointed with this one… McDermid never puts a foot wrong. Her prose is so clear and engaging, this is a book that will keep you turning pages. Like Pirie, you will be hungry for just that one more bit of evidence.” – Crime Fiction Lover

“Pirie is a satisfyingly wry and hard-edged character, and McDermid’s dry tone heightens the growing suspense.” – The Guardian

Available Formats:

Print Book


Not of This Fold by  Mette Ivie Harrison

not of this foldGabriela Gonzalez, a young mother and member of Draper’s “Spanish ward,” is found strangled at a gas station. She was an illegal immigrant, as well as a close acquaintance of Linda Wallheim’s friend Gwen Ferris. Gwen is intent on finding Gabriela’s murderer, as Gabriela had left a message on Gwen’s phone before she died, begging Gwen to meet her at the place she was killed. Linda, though preoccupied with frustrations with how the church and her husband have handled her youngest son’s coming out, reluctantly takes part in Gwen’s vigilante sleuthing, fearing for her young friend’s safety.

The pair discovers a host of suspects: Gabriela’s deported husband, who’s recently returned to Utah; her coworker and possible lover; and her bishop, a man at the head of a powerful, lucrative multi-level marketing company who was paying her for something under the table. Linda and Gwen must discover if one of these men had sufficient motive to kill Gabriela–and soon, as they find they are playing an increasingly dangerous game.

Description from Goodreads.

“The plight of immigrants comes home to the Mormon community of Draper, Utah, in Harrison’s exceptional fourth Linda Wallheim mystery . . . Readers of all faiths will relate to kindhearted, thoughtful Linda, a devout Mormon who isn’t afraid to question the policies and leadership of the LDS church.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Harrison often scathingly confronts religious doctrine, immigration injustice, racism, homophobia, marriage inequity, and male power abuses, all while deftly choreographing a multi-tentacled criminal cover-up . . . readers will continue to applaud Linda’s (thankfully) defiant tenacity.” – Booklist

“A spellbinding murder investigation amidst crises of faith . . . Mette Ivie Harrison’s Not of This Fold is in a class by itself: a captivating story in which intelligence reigns supreme, where right and wrong are examined from various points of view.” – Fresh Fiction 

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Murder at the Mill by  M.B. Shaw

murder at the millA picture hides a thousand lies . . . And only Iris Grey can uncover the truth

Iris Grey arrives at Mill Cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighbouring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.

At the Wetherby’s Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow – but so too are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?

With the snow falling, Iris enters a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets and murder.

Description from Goodreads.

“Complicated relationships create a strong backdrop for a complex mystery, and one hopes, the foundation for more books to come.” – Library Journal

“A contemporary-set cosy crime novel that harks back to The Golden Age of detective fiction. Author Tilly Bagshawe writing under a pseudonym, introduces us to society portraitist Iris Grey whose Christmas country retreat is anything but when a body is found floating by the mill on Christmas Day, instead of tucking into turkey and all the trimmings, Iris finds herself caught up in all manner of sleuthing and intrigue.” – Red Magazine

“A most enjoyable and energetic cozy.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook



HISTORICAL FICTION



The Dakota Winters by  Tom Barbash

dakota wintersIt’s the fall of 1979 in New York City when twenty-three-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter, is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long, Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon.

But the more Anton finds himself enmeshed in his father’s professional and spiritual reinvention, the more he questions his own path, and fissures in the Winter family begin to threaten their close bond. By turns hilarious and poignant, The Dakota Winters is a family saga, a page-turning social novel, and a tale of a critical moment in the history of New York City and the country at large.

Description from Goodreads.

“Punctuated by clever dialogue and crisp social critiques, Barbash’s incisive, funny, and poignant portrait of talented people and a city in flux illuminates the risks of celebrity and the struggle to become one’s true self.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A beautiful, evocative novel of family devotion, celebrity, downfall, and survival, framed by the political and cultural upheavals of America on the cusp of a new decade. Irresistibly tender.” – Library Journal

“Suffused with warm memories of punk clubs, the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team, young romance, and the A-list residents at the storied Dakota apartments…. Pleasurably endearing for anybody with a soft spot for pop culture, Annie Hall-era Manhattan, and 20-somethingdom at its most freewheeling.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book



ROMANCE



Of Blood and Bone by  Nora Roberts

of blood and boneThey look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

Description from Goodreads.

“Roberts continues her apocalyptic Chronicles of The One with a mesmerizing follow-up that is bold and breathtaking…meeting the next generation and watching the heroine grow into her powers and leadership is enthralling.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[C]an be read on its own and will appeal to fans of fast-paced dystopian tales with a strong heroine.” – Publishers Weekly 

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | PlayawayeBook



NONFICTION



All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson by  Mark Griffin

all that heaven allowsThe definitive biography of the deeply complex and widely misunderstood matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Devastatingly handsome, broad-shouldered and clean-cut, Rock Hudson was the ultimate movie star. The embodiment of romantic masculinity in American film throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Hudson reigned supreme as the king of Hollywood.

As an Oscar-nominated leading man, Hudson won acclaim for his performances in glossy melodramas (Magnificent Obsession), western epics (Giant) and blockbuster bedroom farces (Pillow Talk). In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hudson successfully transitioned to television; his long-running series McMillan & Wife and a recurring role on Dynasty introduced him to a whole new generation of fans.

The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.

As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.

Description from Goodreads.

“A thoughtful exploration of the career and elusive private life of Rock Hudson…. An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Griffin provides trenchant cinematic insight and social criticism along with an equally abundant trove of bon mots and anecdotes. Director Douglas Sirk, who worked with Hudson on eight films said, ‘The only thing which never let me down in Hollywood was my camera. And it was not wrong about Hudson.’ Griffin’s lens also puts Hudson in beautifully focused light.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Hudson’s rags-to-riches story is revealed by Griffin’s comprehensive overview of Hudson’s filmography as well as his frank but objective discussion of Hudson’s complicated personal life.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book


Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life by  Dave Asprey

game changersWhen Dave Asprey started his Bulletproof Radio podcast more than five years ago, he sought out influencers in an array of disciplines, from biochemists toiling in unknown laboratories to business leaders changing the world to mediation masters discovering inner peace. His guests were some of the top performing humans in the world, people who had changed their areas of study or even pioneered entirely new fields. Dave wanted to know: What did they have in common? What mattered most to them? What made them so successful—and what made them tick? At the end of each interview, Dave asked the same question: “What are your top three recommendations for people who want to perform better at being human?”

After performing a statistical analysis of the answers, he found that the wisdom gleaned from these highly successful people could be distilled into three main objectives: finding ways to become smarter, faster, and happier. Game Changers is the culmination of Dave’s years-long immersion in these conversations, offering 46 science-backed, high performance “laws” that are a virtual playbook for how to get better at life.

With anecdotes from game changers like Dr. Daniel Amen, Gabby Bernstein, Dr. David Perlmutter, Arianna Huffington, Esther Perel, and Tim Ferris as well as examples from Dave’s own life, Game Changers offers readers practical advice they can put into action to reap immediate rewards. From taming fear and anxiety to making better decisions, establishing high-performance habits, and practicing gratitude and mindfulness, Dave brings together the wisdom of today’s game-changers to help everyone kick more ass at life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Asprey’s motley collection of firsthand tips will inspire and encourage readers.” – Publishers Weekly

“A provocative book that lies on the edges of the self-help universe.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Great War in America: World War I and Its Aftermath by  Garrett Peck

great war in americaThe Great War’s bitter outcome left the experience largely overlooked and forgotten in American history. This timely book is a reexamination of America’s first global experience as we commemorate World War I’s centennial. The U.S. had steered clear of the European conflagration known as the Great War for more than two years, but President Woodrow Wilson reluctantly led the divided country into the conflict with the goal of making the world “safe for democracy.” The country assumed a global role for the first time and attempted to build the foundations for world peace, only to witness the experience go badly awry and retreat into isolationism.

Though overshadowed by the tens of millions of deaths and catastrophic destruction of World War II, the Great War was the most important war of the twentieth century. It was the first continent-wide conflagration in a century, and it drew much of the world into its fire. By the end of it, four empires and their royal houses had fallen, communism was unleashed, the map of the Middle East was redrawn, and the United States emerged as a global power – only to withdraw from the world’s stage.

The Great War is often overlooked, especially compared to World War II, which is considered the “last good war.” The United States was disillusioned with what it achieved in the earlier war and withdrew into itself. Americans have tried to forget about it ever since. The Great War in America presents an opportunity to reexamine the country’s role on the global stage and the tremendous political and social changes that overtook the nation because of the war.

Description from Goodreads.

“A new history of World War I, viewed through the lens of America, where it ‘was an enormously contentious issue.’ Peck proves a reliable guide to ‘a nation that was rapidly growing up―and yet not mature enough to accept its global responsibilities.’ Students of 20th-century American and European history will enjoy this American view of the war and its long-term consequences.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book


Never Grow Up by  Jackie Chan & Zhu Mo

never grow upEveryone knows Jackie Chan. Whether it’s from Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, The Karate Kid, or Kung Fu Panda, Jackie is admired by generations of moviegoers for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, and mind-bending stunts. In 2016—after fifty-six years in the industry, over 200 films, and many broken bones—he received an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievement in film. But at 64 years-old, Jackie is just getting started.

Now, in Never Grow Up , the global superstar reflects on his early life, including his childhood years at the China Drama Academy (in which he was enrolled at the age of six), his big breaks (and setbacks) in Hong Kong and Hollywood, his numerous brushes with death (both on and off film sets), and his life as a husband and father (which has been, admittedly and regrettably, imperfect).

Jackie has never shied away from his mistakes. Since The Young Master in 1980, Jackie’s films have ended with a bloopers reel in which he stumbles over his lines, misses his mark, or crashes to the ground in a stunt gone south. In Never Grow Up, Jackie applies the same spirit of openness to his life, proving time and time again why he’s beloved the world over: he’s honest, funny, kind, brave beyond reckoning and—after all this time—still young at heart.

Description from Goodreads.

“The book is definitively warts (and cracked skulls and broken bones and gallons of blood) and all… but Chan also reveals a soulful, thoughtful side—just one you wouldn’t want to mess with.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Undeniably fun… winningly upbeat… it provides a heck of a lot of entertainment.” – Publishers Weekly

“This is a worthy addition to library collections not only because of Chan’s worldwide fame but also for the value of a non-Western Hollywood success story.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Deadly Deep: The Definitive History of Submarine Warfare by  Iain Ballantyne

deadly deepA fascinating and comprehensive account of how an initially ineffectual underwater boat—originally derided and loathed in equal measure—evolved into the most powerful and terrifying vessel ever invented—with enough destructive power to end all life on Earth.

Iain Ballantyne considers the key episodes of submarine warfare and vividly describes the stories of brave individuals who have risked their lives under the sea, often with fatal consequences. His analysis of underwater conflict begins with Archimedes discovering the Principle of Buoyancy. Our clandestine journey then moves through the centuries and focuses on prolific characters with deathly motives, including David Bushnell, who in 1775 in America devised the first combat submarine with the idea of attacking the British.

Today, nuclear-powered submarines are among the most complex, costly ships in existence. Armed with nuclear weapons, they have the ability to destroy millions of lives: they are the most powerful warships ever created. At the heart of this thrilling narrative lurks danger and power as we discover warfare’s murkiest secrets.

Description from Goodreads.

“A comprehensive history of the submarine. With this overview of the revolutionary warship, Ballantyne ably introduces readers to a subject that boasts an immense bibliography. A great selection for any general interest collection.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Tells the story of undersea warfare entertainingly, without skimping on technical details. The book is full of entertaining and moving stories, especially of the British submariners. An indispensable book for anyone interested in naval history and a great read for everyone else.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book



YOUNG ADULT



Queen of Air and Darkness by  Cassandra Clare

queen of air and darknessWhat if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the blight that is destroying the race of warlocks.

Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

Description from Goodreads.

“This is a certified page-turner.” – Girlfriend

“With a similar appeal to Twilight by Stephanie Myer and Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas or for Gen X parents (The Vampire Chronicles) there are large families, clans and mythical beings such as Angels, Demons, Shadow Hunters, Vampires, Downworlders and Faeries. Combine this with the irresistible moody atmosphere, forbidden love and the struggle between good and evil along with the symbolism, ritual and mythology and you might find yourself enjoying the Dark Artifices Trilogy just as much as your teen.” – Better Reading

Available Formats:

Print Book



CHILDREN’S



Children of Jubilee by  Margaret Peterson Haddix

Earth ConceptKiandra has to use her wits and tech-savvy ways to help rescue Edwy, Enu, and the others from the clutches of the Enforcers in the thrilling final novel of the Children of Exile series from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.

But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.

Description from Goodreads.

Children of Exile has been a voraciously readable series from the first installment; Children of Jubileeincludes some final plot twists, subplots, and a reveal that left me picking my jaw up from the floor. It’s that good.” – Mom Read It

Available Formats:

Print Book

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