Best New Books: Week of 3/5/2019

We aren’t sure why, but the beginning of the month tends to see significantly more new books released than any other week, and this time is no exception. The week’s best include several highly anticipated works of literary fiction, suspense, nonfiction, romance, sci-fi, and several mysteries, so with so much choice we’d best get right to the list!



FICTION



Gingerbread by  Helen Oyeyemi

gingerbreadPerdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. In fact, the world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval–a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi’s inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

Description from Goodreads.

“In Oyeyemi’s idiosyncratically brilliant latest (following Boy, Snow, Bird), she spins a tale about three generations of women and the gingerbread recipe that is their curse and their legacy…. Oyeyemi excels at making the truly astounding believable and turning even the most familiar tales into something strange and new. This fantastic and fantastical romp is a wonderful addition to her formidable canon.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[Gingerbread] has the tinge of the folkloric to it: There are family feuds, a childhood friend named Gretel, and many more archetypal touchstones. Tying this all together is Oyeyemi’s deft hand, virtuosic lyricism, and graceful ability to find transcendence in all aspects of life, sweet and spicy alike.” – Nylon

“Oyeyemi’s latest is a clever subversion of fairy tale tropes to expose the secrets, entanglements, and estrangements within a family…Both a scathing indictment of capitalism and a tribute to the maddeningly inescapable endurance of family bonds, this enchanting tale will resonate with literary fiction lovers.” – Booklist

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The River by  Peter Heller

riverWynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is smaller, more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in Northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddles and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and paperback western novels. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: the next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a head-long, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.

Description from Goodreads.

“A fiery tour de force… [The River] recalls his debut, The Dog Stars, with its poetic, staccato sentences and masterfully crafted prose… The story itself resembles a trip down a river—some parts are peaceful and allow for quiet introspection and big, deep breaths. But then you hit the rapids and the danger and risk jump off the page, forcing a sense of urgency. In those thrilling parts, reading required self-discipline. I wanted to know what happened so badly that I’d read too fast and had to retrace my steps to savor Heller’s storytelling. And what a story he tells… I could not put this book down. It truly was terrifying and unutterably beautiful.” – Denver Post

“Using an artist’s eye to describe Jack and Wynn’s wilderness world, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Heller has transformed his own outdoor experiences into a heart-pounding adventure that’s hard to put down.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Suspenseful… With its evocative descriptions of nature’s splendor and brutality, Heller’s novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart—and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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The Altruists by  Andrew Ridker

altruistsArthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children.

Those children are Ethan, an anxious recluse living off his mother’s money on a choice plot of Brooklyn real estate; and Maggie, a would-be do-gooder trying to fashion herself a noble life of self-imposed poverty. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation. But in doing so, he unwittingly unleashes a Pandora’s box of age-old resentments and long-buried memories–memories that orbit Francine, the matriarch whose life may hold the key to keeping them together.

Spanning New York, Paris, Boston, St. Louis, and a small desert outpost in Zimbabwe, The Altruists is a darkly funny (and ultimately tender) family saga in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, with shades of Philip Roth and Zadie Smith. It’s a novel about money, privilege, politics, campus culture, dating, talk therapy, rural sanitation, infidelity, kink, the American beer industry, and what it means to be a “good person.”

Description from Goodreads.

“With humor and warmth, Ridker explores the meaning of family and its inevitable baggage. The Altruists may not paint the prettiest picture, but it’s a relatable, unforgettable view of regular people making mistakes and somehow finding their way back to each other.” – People

“A widowed father and his adult children find their way after years of getting on one another’s nerves. With prickly, strangely endearing characters and sharp writing, this novel is tender and hilarious.” – Good Housekeeping 

“Beautifully written, with witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fascinating characters, Ridker’s impressive, deeply satisfying debut is an extraordinarily insightful look at a family broken apart by loss and struggling to find a way back to each other and themselves.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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The Island of Sea Women by  Lisa See

island of sea womenMi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“A stupendous multigenerational family saga, See’s latest also provides an enthralling cultural anthropology highlighting the soon-to-be-lost, matriarchal haenyeo phenomenon and an engrossing history of violently tumultuous twentieth-century Korea. A mesmerizing achievement. See’s accomplishment, acclaim, and readership continue to rise with each book, and interest in this stellar novel will be well stoked.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“See perceptively depicts challenges faced by Koreans over the course of the 20th century, particularly homing in on the ways the haenyeo have struggled to maintain their way of life. Exposing the depths of human cruelty and resilience, See’s lush tale is a wonderful ode to a truly singular group of women.” – Publishers Weekly 

“On an island off the South Korean coast, an ancient guild of women divers reckons with the depredations of modernity from 1938 to 2008 in See’s latest novel…. See did extensive research with primary sources to detail not only the haenyeo traditions, but the mass murders on Jeju beginning in 1948, which were covered up for decades by the South Korean government… It is a necessary book.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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When All Is Said by  Anne Griffin

when all is saidA tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.

Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel.
 

Description from Goodreads.

“Highly recommended; this unforgettable first novel introduces Griffin as a writer to watch.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

A proper tear-jerker, but one that will ultimately leave you feeling hopeful.” – Grazia

“It’s all beautifully done; a tale told in the plain but poetic prose of a man who recognises the tragic truths gleaned from a life of love and loss. A gem of a book.” – Sunday Express

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MYSTERY



Before She Knew Him by  Peter Swanson

before she knew himHen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

Description from Goodreads.

“…exceptional… Surprising twists help keep the suspense high to the end.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A twisty, fast-paced tale that depicts picket-fence suburbia’s seamy, murderous underside… Swanson is at his best in exploring the kinship—or what some see as the kinship—between artist and killer, one of the themes of Swanson’s great model and forebear, Patricia Highsmith… A dark, quick-moving, suspenseful story.” – Kirkus Reviews

“What would happen if a serial killer met the perfect confidant, someone who would never be believed if they revealed his secrets? Nothing good… Swanson has crafted another bar-raising psychological thriller with this tense, unexpected spin on serial killers and those obsessed with them.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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Unto Us a Son Is Given by  Donna Leon

unto us a son is given“Your situation is always ambiguous, isn’t it, Guido?,” his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, observes of Donna Leon’s soulful detective, Guido Brunetti, at the beginning of her superb 28th Brunetti novel, Unto Us A Son Is Given. “The world we live in makes that necessary,” Brunetti presciently replies. Count Falier was urging his Venetian son-in-law to investigate, and preferably intervene in, the seemingly innocent plan of the Count’s best friend, the elderly Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada, to adopt a much younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws this man would then be heir to Gonzalo’s entire fortune, a prospect Gonzalo’s friends find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why the old man, a close family friend, can’t be allowed his pleasure in peace. And yet, what seems innocent on the Venetian surface can cause tsunamis beneath. Gonzalo unexpectedly, and literally, drops dead on the street, and one of his friends just arrived in Venice for the memorial service, is strangled in her hotel room–having earlier sent Gonzalo an email saying, “We are the only ones who know you cannot do this,” referring to the adoption. Now with an urgent case to solve, Brunetti reluctantly untangles the long-hidden mystery in Gonzalo’s life that ultimately led to murder–a resolution that brings him way more pain than satisfaction.

Once again, Donna Leon brilliantly plumbs the twists and turns of the human condition, reuniting us with some of crime fiction’s most memorable and enduring characters.

Description from Goodreads.

“Once again, Leon transforms what might have been a straightforward mystery into something much richer and more resonant―in this case, a meditation on love, loss, family, and prejudice . . . Many crime novels place domestic story lines alongside crime plots, but Leon masterfully blends the two, enhancing our understanding of both . . . Far more than a whodunit, the real subject of this novel (and Leon’s work in general) is what we all do to one another.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Leon says Venetians are ‘accustomed to swimming in the swirling froth of information and misinformation that flowed through so much of daily life,’ and readers can trust her to guide them safely to dry land.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…sobering… Leon provides a sad reflection on the devastating impact of selfish desires on innumerable lives.” – Publishers Weekly

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The Wolf and the Watchman by  Niklas Natt och Dag

wolf and the watchmanIt is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

Description from Goodreads.

“In his debut novel, Natt och Dag examines the effects of a brutal murder on those who investigate it—and explores the psychological causes for the crime…Chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A masterpiece of a novel.” – Historical Novel Society

“Calls to mind another auspicious debut murder mystery set in an unfamiliar place and time: Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s been nearly 40 years since that foreign-language historical thriller captured the world’s imagination, thoroughly engrossing readers and propelling its author into international stardom. So we’re about due, and Natt och Dag is certainly a worthy candidate.” – Bookpage

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The Stranger Diaries by  Elly Griffiths

stranger diariesClare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature. 

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.” 

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

Description from Goodreads.

The Stranger Diaries is an utterly mesmerizing thriller. If you like chilling thrillers, this is what you should be reading next.” – Washington Book Review

“An English teacher with an expansive knowledge of gothic literature finds herself tangled in a web of murder and mystery that begins more and more to be a kind of twisted work of gothic storytelling in this impressive new mystery. Griffiths writes at the perfect intersection of procedural and psychological thriller, with her latest adding a strong dose of dark atmospherics to spin a truly unnerving story.” – CrimeReads

“Griffiths’ exceptional standalone The Stranger Diaries is a spring 2019 must-read…Griffiths masterfully blends Gothic influence with modern-day suspense sensibility, and the result is effortless, spine-tingling, page-turning fun…accessible and seriously entertaining, while remaining rich in atmosphere as well…I loved this book.” – Crime by the Book

Available Formats:

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SUSPENSE



Cemetery Road by  Greg Iles

cemetery roadWhen Marshall McEwan left his hometown at age eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away ultimately spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington D.C. But just as the political chaos in the nation’s capital lifts him to new heights, Marshall is forced to return home in spite of his boyhood vow.

His father is dying, his mother is struggling to keep the family newspaper from failing, and the town is in the midst of an economic rebirth that might be built upon crimes that reach into the state capitol—and perhaps even to Washington. More disturbing still, Marshall’s high school sweetheart, Jet, has married into the family of Max Matheson, patriarch of one of the families that rule Bienville through a shadow organization called the Bienville Poker Club.

When archeologist Buck McKibben is murdered at a construction site, Bienville is thrown into chaos. The ensuing homicide investigation is soon derailed by a second crime that rocks the community to its core. Power broker Max Matheson’s wife has been shot dead in her own bed, and the only other person in it at the time was her husband, Max. Stranger still, Max demands that his daughter-in-law, Jet, defend him in court.

As a journalist, Marshall knows all too well how the corrosive power of money and politics can sabotage investigations. Without telling a soul, he joins forces with Jet, who has lived for fifteen years at the heart of Max Matheson’s family, and begins digging into both murders. With Jet walking the dangerous road of an inside informer, they soon uncover a web of criminal schemes that undergird the town’s recent success. But these crimes pale in comparison to the secret at the heart of the Matheson family. When those who have remained silent for years dare to speak to Marshall, pressure begins to build like water against a crumbling dam.

Marshall loses friends, family members, and finally even Jet, for no one in Bienville seems willing to endure the reckoning that the Poker Club has long deserved. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.

Description from Goodreads.

“An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment.” – Washington Post

“With a paralyzing twist that will leave you speechless, Iles has created a completely original and unforgettable tale.” – Iron Mountain Daily News

“[A] compulsively readable thriller… Iles once again delivers a sweeping tale of family dysfunction, sexually charged secrets, and the power of wealth, with an overlay of violence and Southern sensibility.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Beautiful Bad by  Annie Ward

beautiful badThings that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry… That something is really, really wrong with me.

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

Description from Goodreads.

“Harrowing…. Evocative descriptions and strong senses of time and place complement the intricate, intelligent plot, which shocks and chills.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A well-constructed thriller… brilliantly conceived… would do Patricia Highsmith proud.” – Booklist

“Recommended for fans of Paula Hawkins, Ruth Ware, and Liane Moriarty.” – Library Journal

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HISTORICAL FICTION



Woman 99 by  Greer Macallister

woman 99She’s only a number now.

When Charlotte Smith’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99.

The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient — and that her search for the truth threatens to dig up secrets that some very powerful people would do anything to keep.

A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Woman 99 honors the fierce women of the past, born into a world that denied them power but underestimated their strength.

Description from Goodreads.

“Macallister sensitively and adroitly portrays mental illness in an era when it was just beginning to be understood, while weaving a riveting tale of loyalty, love, and sacrifice.” – Publishers Weekly

“Exploring sisterhood, trauma, and the power of shared experience, Woman 99 is an undercover glimpse inside a late nineteenth-century treatment facility. Macallister fearlessly probes the dark corners of the era, exposing barbaric treatments and backward thinking surrounding mental illness.” – Booklist

“Readers will become engrossed in Charlotte’s journey of self-discovery as she fights to free herself and her sister from a rigged system.” – Library Journal

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ROMANCE



Daisy Jones and the Six by  Taylor Jenkins Reid

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddEveryone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Description from Goodreads.

Daisy Jones & The Six is just plain fun from cover to cover. . . . Her characters feel so vividly real, you’ll wish you could stream their albums, YouTube their concerts, and google their wildest moments to see them for yourself.” – HelloGiggles

“Reid delivers a stunning story of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll in the 1960s and ’70s in this expertly wrought novel. Mimicking the style and substance of a tell-all celebrity memoir … Reid creates both story line and character gold. The book’s prose is propulsive, original, and often raw. . . . Reid’s gift for creating imperfect characters and taut plots courses throughout this addictive novel.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Reid’s wit and gift for telling a perfectly paced story make this one of the most enjoyably readable books of the year.” – Nylon

Available Formats:

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SCI-FI & FANTASY



The Wall by  John Lanchester

wallRavaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall—an enormous concrete barrier around its entire border. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and attack constantly. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. And then the Others attack. . . .

Acclaimed British novelist John Lanchester, “a writer of rare intelligence” (Los Angeles Times), delivers a taut dystopian novel that blends the most compelling issues of our time—rising waters, rising fear, rising political division—into a suspenseful story of love, trust, and survival.

Description from Goodreads.

“Dystopian fiction done just right, with a scenario that’s all too real.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] dynamite dystopian novel… Terrifyingly resonant [and] electrifying.” – Publishers Weekly

“From Brexit to migration, this masterly climate change dystopia explores contemporary fears with a blend of realism and metaphor. …a novel that ranks alongside Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and the oeuvre of Kim Stanley Robinson as a fictional meditation on what climate change may mean for the planet. Even if its value as a work of prophecy is as yet unknowable, it will certainly provide future generations with a mirror held up to the anxieties and forebodings of the early 21st century.” – The Guardian

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NONFICTION



An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by  Alex Kotlowitz

american summerThe numbers are staggering: over the past twenty years in Chicago, 14,033 people have been killed and another roughly 60,000 wounded by gunfire. What does that do to the spirit of individuals and community?

Drawing on his decades of experience, Alex Kotlowitz set out to chronicle one summer in the city, writing about individuals who have emerged from the violence and whose stories capture the capacity–and the breaking point–of the human heart and soul. The result is a spellbinding collection of deeply intimate profiles that upend what we think we know about gun violence in America. Among others, we meet a man who as a teenager killed a rival gang member and twenty years later is still trying to come to terms with what he’s done; a devoted school social worker struggling with her favorite student, who refuses to give evidence in the shooting death of his best friend; the witness to a wrongful police shooting who can’t shake what he has seen; and an aging former gang leader who builds a place of refuge for himself and his friends.

Applying the close-up, empathic reporting that made There Are No Children Here a modern classic, Kotlowitz offers a piercingly honest portrait of a city in turmoil. These sketches of those left standing will get into your bones. This one summer will stay with you.

Description from Goodreads.

“In his latest powerful sociological exploration, [Kotlowitz] masterfully captures the summer of 2013 in neglected Chicago neighborhoods, rendering intimate profiles of residents and the “very public” violence they face every day. . . A fiercely uncompromising–and unforgettable–portrait.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Kotlowitz has a ruminative, almost poetic sensibility . . . The violence is made palpable but never romanticized. Kotlowitz’s approach is empathetic in this bold, unflinching depiction of an ever-lengthening crisis.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“As he did in his bestseller There Are No Children Here, Kotlowitz gives readers an opportunity to see for themselves the lives and substance of the people behind the statistics. These are people who, without his book, may very easily stay hidden from view.” – Amazon Book Review

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The Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by  Mallory O’Meara

lady from the black lagoonAs a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O’Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick’s contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney’s first female animators. And at last, O’Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature’s success, and where she went.

A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.

Description from Goodreads.

“Captivating and exhaustively researched…This is a fascinating slice of Hollywood history with a feminist slant, correcting a sexist wrong from decades ago and restoring Patrick to her rightful place of esteem.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“There’s never a dull moment in this beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a pioneering special-effects designer and animator and passionate call for change in the industry that forgot her.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“An idiosyncratic, much-needed biography of ‘a woman before her time’… this passionately written biography will do much to bring Patrick the recognition she deserves.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by  Lynne Olson

madame fourcades secret warIn 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour became the leader of a vast Resistance organization–the only woman to hold such a role. Brave, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country’s conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group’s name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah’s Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. Marie-Madeleine’s codename was Hedgehog.

No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence as Alliance–and as a result, the Gestapo pursued them relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including her own lover and many of her key spies. Fourcade had to move her headquarters every week, constantly changing her hair color, clothing, and identity, yet was still imprisoned twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape, once by stripping naked and forcing her thin body through the bars of her cell. The mother of two young children, Marie-Madeleine hardly saw them during the war, so entirely engaged was she in her spy network, preferring they live far from her and out of harm’s way. 

In Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, Lynne Olson tells the tense, fascinating story of Fourcade and Alliance against the background of the developing war that split France in two and forced its citizens to live side by side with their hated German occupiers.

Description from Goodreads.

“The organizational genius of Fourcade shines through tales of her cat-and-mouse game with the Gestapo, including multiple daring escapes from Nazi captivity. As well researched and engrossing as her previous books, showcasing her adroit ability to weave personal narratives, political intrigue, and wartime developments to tell a riveting story, Olson’s latest is highly recommended to readers interested in World War II, the history of espionage, women’s history, and European history.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A brilliant, cinematic biography of resistance leader Marie-Madeleine Fourcade . . . Olson’s weaving of Fourcade’s diary artfully and liberally into her own writing and her heart-stopping descriptions of Paris, escapes, and internecine warring create a narrative that’s as dramatic as a novel or a film. Olson honors Fourcade’s fight for freedom and her ‘refusal to be silenced’ with a gripping narrative that will thrill WWII history buffs.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Incredibly absorbing and long-overdue . . . This masterfully told true story reads like fiction and will appeal to readers who devour WWII thrillers à la Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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The Case for Trump by  Victor Davis Hanson

case for trumpIn The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States — and an extremely successful president.

Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn, Hanson argues. And Trump alone had the instincts and energy to pursue this opening to victory, dismantle a corrupt old order, and bring long-overdue policy changes at home and abroad. We could not survive a series of presidencies as volatile as Trump’s. But after decades of drift, America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.
 

Description from Goodreads.

“Hanson is shrewd and insightful on Trump’s appeal… one of the smartest conservative defenses of Trump yet published.” – Publishers Weekly

“…has some genuine merit and originality.” – New York Times

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The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by  Greg Grandin

end of the mythEver since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation—democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America has a new symbol: the border wall.

In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history—from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016. For centuries, he shows, America’s constant expansion—fighting wars and opening markets—served as a “gate of escape,” helping to deflect domestic political and economic conflicts outward. But this deflection meant that the country’s problems, from racism to inequality, were never confronted directly. And now, the combined catastrophe of the 2008 financial meltdown and our unwinnable wars in the Middle East have slammed this gate shut, bringing political passions that had long been directed elsewhere back home.

It is this new reality, Grandin says, that explains the rise of reactionary populism and racist nationalism, the extreme anger and polarization that catapulted Trump to the presidency. The border wall may or may not be built, but it will survive as a rallying point, an allegorical tombstone marking the end of American exceptionalism.

Description from Goodreads.

“An essential, sweeping history of the American frontier, its end and what it has meant to our nation’s sense of itself.” – Los Angeles Times

“…offers a provocative historical exploration of a contentious current issue.” – Publishers Weekly

“An engaging and disquieting analysis of America’s recurring choice between ‘a humane ethic of social citizenship’ and barbarism.” – Kirkus Reviews

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YOUNG ADULT



Field Notes on Love by  Jennifer E. Smith

field notes on loveHaving just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

Description from Goodreads.

“This warm, romantic, never overly sentimental story is told with humor and heart….A deeply satisfying read about a life-changing journey full of poignant moments.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Hugo and Mae’s alternating viewpoints are rich and introspective, and this will appeal to any teen that appreciates a thoughtful love story.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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Lovely War by  Julie Berry

lovely warIt’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Description from Goodreads.

“Scheherazade has nothing on Berry . . . An unforgettable romance so Olympian in scope, human at its core, and lyrical in its prose that it must be divinely inspired.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Proves again that Berry is one of our most ambitious writers. Happily for us, that ambition so often results in great success.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] triumphant piece of historically focused fiction. . . a moving, brutal, and yes, lovely, story of the ways in which people find hope in a world gone mad.” – BCCB Reviews

Available Formats:

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CHILDREN’S



Circle by  Mac Barnett; illustrations by  Jon Klassen

circleThis book is about Circle. This book is also about Circle’s friends, Triangle and Square. Also it is about a rule that Circle makes, and how she has to rescue Triangle when he breaks that rule. With their usual pitch-perfect pacing and subtle, sharp wit, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen come full circle in the third and final chapter of their clever shapes trilogy.

Description from Goodreads.

“Illustrator Klassen’s watercolor, graphite, and digitally created illustrations are evocative in their muted palette and spare presentation…the implied message of the story is a vital one in this xenophobic age and its subtle delivery and imagery encourage further exploration.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In typical Barnett-Klassen style, humor and light philosophical musings mingle to form a story that will entertain children and adults alike. Because much of the story takes place in darkness, readers are called upon to use their imaginations, making this oddball friendship tale an off-kilter treat.” – Booklist

“…the message is highly entertaining in its delivery, and Klassen’s understated work with light (and the absence of it), shadow, and texture carries the story full…circle.” – The Horn Book

Available Formats:

Print Book

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