Best New Books: Week of 4/30/2019

Between Avengers: Endgame and the final season of Game of Thrones, you might find yourself struggling to squeeze in time for a good book, but when you see this week’s list, you will definitely want to try. With everything from histories to mysteries, there is bound to be something that catches your eye, and we’ve even got some Young Adult and Children’s books to recommend this week as well! So let’s get to it!



FICTION



The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by  Balli Kaur Jaswal

unlikely adventures of the shergill sistersBritish-born Punjabi sisters Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina have never been close – so when their dying mother instructs them to go on a pilgrimage across India to carry out her final rites, the sisters are forced together as they haven’t been for years.

Rajni is an archetypal eldest child – bossy, knows best, always right – but her perfect son dropped a devastating bombshell before she left and now she’s floundering.

Middle sister Jezmeen was always a loudmouth, translating her need for attention into life as a struggling actress. But her career is on the skids after an incident went viral and now she’s desperate to find her voice again.

Shirina has always been the perfect sister, who confounded expectations by having the most traditional arranged marriage of them all and moving to the other side of the world. But her perfect marriage isn’t what it seems and time is running out to make the right choice.

Each sister has her own reasons for agreeing to this ludicrous trip, and as the miles rack up, the secrets of the past and present are sure to spill out…
 

Description from Goodreads.

“An absolute delight… sad, joyful, and exciting all at the same time.” – Bookpage, STARRED REVIEW

“The women are complex but also wholly recognizable in their differing perspectives… This road-trip story is suspenseful without making the reader feel manipulated. The author has a knack for efficient yet affecting summary and swift-moving scenes, which together make the sisters’ past dynamics and present relationships feel wonderfully rich. Jaswal handles myriad familiar themes related to the complicated experiences of womanhood, immigration, and grief with a fresh voice and mostly seamless prose. This women-driven story explores family relationships and histories with grace, humor, and warmth.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…witty, emotional… Teen and adult fans of women’s fiction will find much to appreciate here.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


Spring by  Ali Smith

springWhat unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times?

Spring. The great connective.

With an eye to the migrancy of story over time, and riffing on Pericles, one of Shakespeare’s most resistant and rollicking works, Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In a time of walls and lockdown Smith opens the door.

The time we’re living in is changing nature. Will it change the nature of story?

Hope springs eternal.

Description from Goodreads.

“This is a novel that contains multitudes, and the wonder is that Smith folds so much in, from visionary nature writing to Twitter obscenities, in prose that is so deceptively relaxed. Jokes detonate throughout, from the bleak to the whimsical, as surprising and moving connections are revealed between all three novels… As her Seasonal Quartet moves towards completion her own role in British fiction looks ever more vital.” – The Guardian

“Smith is a masterful storyteller. With just a few words she can build engaging worlds and identifiable characters… What makes Smith extraordinary is the way she layers her work. The structure of Spring is fluid—she weaves in different voices and modernist riffs that come out of nowhere and stop you in your tracks… Through her account of unlikely friendships, Smith brings human values to the fore. Savor it, because there is just one installment left.” – The Evening Standard

“All is revealed in the spring of 2019. As in the first two books, Smith alludes to contemporary issues, such as #MeToo, Brexit, and fake news, but on immigrants she grabs a megaphone… Roots, shoots, and buds abound amid myriad references to death and rebirth, from the Hanged Man pub to Orpheus, Norse mythology’s Ragnarok, and Shelley’s ‘The Cloud.’ The three novels have a few common elements—the pain and pleasure of creativity; the pairing of an older adult and an intelligent youth; the showcasing of an English female visual artist, here Tacita Dean—but they are self-contained and increasingly urgent in their hope that art might bring change… Smith’s work is always challenging and always rewarding.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



SUSPENSE



Little Darlings by  Melanie Golding

little darlingsEveryone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Description from Goodreads.

“Golding’s novel will strike true fear into the heart of any parent. At the same time, the novel explores the fierce and desperate love we have for our children, written with beautiful intensity… A gorgeous, creepy, modern fairy tale reminiscent of Angela Carter.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A modern story of ghosts and fairy tales… Golding beautifully blends the supernatural with the everyday, keeping readers riveted to the page as they question what is true.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“It’ll make you question whether mother really does know best or if motherhood is truly the dream it’s made out to be.” – Fangoria

Available Formats:

Print Book | PlayawayeBook


A Good Enough Mother by  Bev Thomas

good enough motherRuth Hartland is a psychotherapist with years of experience. But professional skill is no guard against private grief. The mother of grown twins, she is haunted by the fact that her beautiful, difficult, fragile son Tom, a boy who never “fit in,” disappeared a year and a half earlier. She cannot give up hope of finding him, but feels she is living a kind of half-life, waiting for him to return. 

Enter a new patient, Dan–unstable and traumatized–who looks exactly like her missing son. She is determined to help him, but soon, her own complicated feelings, about how she has failed her own boy, cloud her professional judgement. And before long, the unthinkable becomes a shattering reality….

An utterly compelling drama with a timebomb at its core, A Good Enough Mother is a brilliant, beautiful story of mothering, and how to let go of the ones we love when we must.

Description from Goodreads.

“A compelling, ingenious novel about grief, love, the healing process, and what it means to mother. . .  Perfect for fans of psychological fiction, in particular Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient.” – Booklist

“[An] exceptional debut. . . Thomas melds astute psychological insight with powerful storytelling in this moving thriller.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A brilliant, genre-defying exploration of the complexities of motherhood, and of the constant conflict between reason and emotion. . . So eclectic that it won’t be pigeon-holed in a genre, it’s simply a great work of taut, engaging fiction.” – Thriller Books Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book



MYSTERY



The Invited by  Jennifer McMahon

invitedIn a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago.

As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day. 

Description from Goodreads.

“[The] blend of ghost story and modern mystery is flawlessly compelling and evocative. A masterful twist on the haunted-house story.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] powerful supernatural thriller… Whether one believes in ghosts, McMahon’s consummately crafted chiller is guaranteed to haunt.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW 
 
“The latest from McMahon is like a nesting doll – a thriller inside a murder mystery inside a ghost story – and will chill readers with every sideways glimpse of a passing shadow.” – Library Journal 

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Murder on Trinity Place by  Victoria Thompson

murder on trinity placeThe year of 1899 is drawing to a close. Frank and Sarah Malloy are getting ready to celebrate the New Year at Trinity Church when they notice Mr. Pritchard, a relative of their neighbor’s behaving oddly and annoying the other revelers. Frank tries to convince Pritchard to return home with them, but the man refuses and Frank loses him in the crowd. The next morning Sarah and Frank are horrified to learn Pritchard was murdered sometime in the night, his body left on Trinity Place, the side street near the church.

The police aren’t too interested in the murder, and the family are concerned that the circumstances of the death will reflect badly on Pritchard’s reputation. To protect the family from scandal, Nelson asks Frank to investigate. Frank and Sarah delve into Pritchard’s past and realize there may have been a deadly side to the dawning of the new century.

Description from Goodreads.

“Period details and charm abound in a mystery that packs some real surprises.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…very enjoyable, the core mystery was fascinating, and the side-stories added to the pleasure.” – Criminal Element

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



HISTORICAL FICTION



Cape May by  Chip Cheek

Cape May Beach in New JerseyLate September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences.

Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.

Description from Goodreads.

“This remarkable debut novel offers a sobering reminder of how the possibilities of life, when first encountered, often carry their own riptide.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Cheek’s smoldering debut novel focuses on naïve newlyweds from rural Georgia on their honeymoon in the chilly off-season of historic Cape May, New Jersey in the 1950s, at a moment of fading postwar innocence. When a trio of hedonistic socialites appear on the scene, the gin-infused dynamic of this ensemble drama subverts the couple’s romance and fidelity. In propulsive prose, Cheek provides an eerie, suspenseful thrill, and the callow narrator reflects the world on the brink of change.” – The National Book Review

“This erotic debut novel will draw in readers and stay with them. The author’s perceptive exploration of innocence and experience, corruption and betrayal, makes for compelling reading.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | PlayawayeBook | eAudiobook


Park Avenue Summer by  Renée Rosen

park avenue summerNew York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss, who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.

Description from Goodreads.

“A delightful and empowering read.” – PopSugar

Park Avenue Summer is a sweet, romantic story about making it in that big city, having your dreams come true, while finding friends, recapturing family, and finding forever love. Be still my heart. I loved it and found it hard to put down until the ending. It is a delicious delight that is simply wonderful! Thank you, Ms. Rosen.” – Fresh Fiction

“Where the book sparkles brightest is in Rosen’s complete success in creating a soapy, small-town-girl-in-the-big-city story that includes sophisticated bad boys, designer clothes, and lots of smoking and day drinking. An ode to idealized 1960s New York, this champagne bubble of a novel takes the Mad Men approach to depicting single, twentysomething women.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Red Daughter by  John Burnham Schwartz

red daughterIn one of the most momentous events of the Cold War, Svetlana Alliluyeva, the only daughter of the infamous Soviet despot Joseph Stalin, abruptly abandoned her life in Moscow in 1967, arriving in New York to throngs of reporters and a nation hungry to hear her story. By her side is Peter Horvath, a young lawyer sent by the CIA to smuggle Svetlana into America.

She is a contradictory celebrity: charismatic and headstrong, lonely and haunted, excited and alienated by her adopted country’s radically different society. Persuading herself that all she yearns for is a simple American life, she attempts to settle into a suburban existence in Princeton, New Jersey. But one day an invitation from the widow of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright arrives, and Svetlana impulsively joins her cultlike community at Taliesin West. When this dream ends in disillusionment, Svetlana reaches out to Peter, the one person who understands how the chains of her past still hold her prisoner. Their relationship changes and deepens, moving from America to England to the Soviet Union and back again, unfolding under the eyes of her CIA minders, and Svetlana’s and Peter’s private lives are no longer their own.

Novelist John Burnham Schwartz’s father was in fact the young lawyer who escorted Svetlana Alliluyeva to the United States. Drawing upon private papers and years of extensive research, Schwartz imaginatively re-creates the story of an extraordinary, troubled woman’s search for a new life and a place to belong, in the powerful, evocative prose that has made him an acclaimed author of literary and historical fiction.

Description from Goodreads.

“Richly detailed… an insightful and compelling saga of a woman desperately trying to escape her infamous past… Fact and fiction mingle seamlessly in a story of the defection and lonely wanderings of Josef Stalin’s only daughter. ” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“In this gripping historical novel about the defection of Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, Schwartz explores the wider political context that sharpens private tragedy… This lovely novel’s strength is the aching portrait of Svetlana: ‘not American, not Russian, neither this thing or that thing but always now between these things, which is the tragedy of my life.’ Filled with historical details that enliven and ground the fictionalized elements, Schwartz’s elegant novel captures the emotion and strain of Alliluyeva’s second life in the U.S.” – Publishers Weekly

“A perceptive exploration of identity, motherhood, and how one woman valiantly tried to shed the heavy mantle of her father’s infamous legacy… Schwartz again demonstrates his adroitness at illustrating the troubled lives of high-profile twentieth-century women.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



NONFICTION



From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by  Tembi Locke

from scratchIt was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef Saro on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

Description from Goodreads.

“Actress and TEDx speaker Locke movingly describes the process of grieving and finding solace during three summers in Italy after the death of her husband… Locke’s raw and heartfelt memoir will uplift readers suffering from the loss of their own loved ones.” – Publishers Weekly

“Tembi Locke’s moving, vivid memoir is an epic cross-cultural romance, a tragedy, a tale of self-discovery and, best of all, a testament to the simple healing powers of good food.” – Shelf Awareness

“In her literary debut, actor and TEDx speaker Locke offers a warm memoir of romance, wrenching loss, and healing… A captivating story of love lost and found.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book



YOUNG ADULT



The Tiger at Midnight by  Swati Teerdhala

tiger at midnightEsha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

Inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology.

Description from Goodreads.

“Teerdhala’s debut, immersed in Indian fantasy, features two compelling protagonists who must question their loyalties and decide what they’re willing to sacrifice for the chance at a new future. Fast-paced action and a budding romance between emotionally layered characters make this a promising start to a gripping new series.” – ALA Booklist

“Set in a fantastical South Asia, this combination of romance, action, and magic will appeal to fans of Sabaa Tahir and Renée Ahdieh. A strong choice for YA fantasy shelves.” – School Library Journal

“[A] lush blend of folklore, fantasy, and romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book



CHILDREN’S



The Lost Boy’s Gift by  Kimberly Willis Holt

lost boy's giftThere are places where you want to go and places where you want to leave. There are also places where you want to stay.

Nine-year-old Daniel must move across the county with his mom after his parents’ divorce. He’s leaving behind his whole life—everything—and he’s taking a suitcase of anger with him. But Daniel is in for a surprise when he settles into While-a-Way Lane and meets his new neighbors—the Lemonade Girl, the hopscotching mailman, the tiny creatures, and especially Tilda Butter. Tilda knows how to look and listen closely, and it’s that gift that helps Daniel find his way in that curious placed called While-a-Way Lane.

Description from Goodreads.

“Holt applies her talent for writing quiet, heartfelt stories to this study of Daniel, a lonely boy struggling with his parents’ recent divorce… Quirky neighborhood characters occupy the idyllic town, and this serene backdrop gives Daniel and Tilda much-needed opportunities for uninterrupted personal reflection and positive steps forward.” – Booklist

“Touches of the fantastic augment accessible, straightforward prose, which permeates the neighborhood personalities’ lives and motivations, lending this novel a gently bustling yet intimate atmosphere.” – Publishers Weekly

“Holt’s whimsical narrative moves between Daniel’s struggles in his new life, Tilda’s reflections on her old one, and the critters and community that surround them both… A smart, hopeful perspective of life on any lane.” – The Bulletin

Available Formats:

Print Book


Our Castle by the Sea by  Lucy Strange

our castle by the seaGrowing up in a lighthouse, 11-year-old Pet’s world has been one of storms, secret tunnels, and stories about sea monsters. But now the country is at war and the clifftops are a terrifying battleground. Pet will need to muster all her bravery to uncover why her family is being torn apart. 

This is the story of a girl who is afraid and unnoticed. A girl who freezes with fear at the enemy planes ripping through the skies overheard. A girl who is somehow destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone.

Description from Goodreads.

“A plot summary can only hint at the satisfaction of reading this tightly interwoven story with its haunting setting and memorable characters.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Strange seamlessly blends a local legend of four girls turned into ancient standing stones on the lighthouse’s clifftop into a larger story…A standout historical novel with a memorable protagonist, strongly sketched setting, and a compelling, twisty plot.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[Lucy Strange] gives us a real sense of how war and other people’s suspicions can be contagious and fracture the strongest family unit.” – The Times

Available Formats:

Print Book



CHILDREN’S NONFICTION



Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by  Andrea Warren

enemy childIt’s 1941 and ten-year-old Norman Mineta is a carefree fourth grader in San Jose, California, who loves baseball, hot dogs, and Cub Scouts. But when Japanese forces attack Pearl Harbor, Norm’s world is turned upside down. 

One by one, things that he and his Japanese American family took for granted are taken away. In a matter of months they, along with everyone else of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, are forced by the government to move to internment camps, leaving everything they have known behind.

At the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming, Norm and his family live in one room in a tar paper barracks with no running water. There are lines for the communal bathroom, lines for the mess hall, and they live behind barbed wire and under the scrutiny of armed guards in watchtowers.

Meticulously researched and informed by extensive interviews with Mineta himself, Enemy Child sheds light on a little-known subject of American history. Andrea Warren covers the history of early Asian immigration to the United States and provides historical context on the U.S. government’s decision to imprison Japanese Americans alongside a deeply personal account of the sobering effects of that policy.

Warren takes readers from sunny California to an isolated wartime prison camp and finally to the halls of Congress to tell the true story of a boy who rose from “enemy child” to a distinguished American statesman. Mineta was the first Asian mayor of a major city (San Jose) and was elected ten times to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he worked tirelessly to pass legislation, including the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. He also served as Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Transportation. He has had requests by other authors to write his biography, but this is the first time he has said yes because he wanted young readers to know the story of America’s internment camps.

Enemy Child includes more than ninety photos, many provided by Norm himself, chronicling his family history and his life. Extensive backmatter includes an Afterword, bibliography, research notes, and multimedia recommendations for further information on this important topic.

Description from Goodreads.

“By connecting Mineta’s story to the larger events of World War II and its impact on Japanese Americans, the author helps readers learn about a frightening historical injustice… an inspiring story of character and endurance despite hardships. An important, well-told story. An excellent choice for social studies classes, literature circles, and libraries. Extensive back matter enriches understanding of this historical narrative” – School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Warren bases her narrative on interviews as well as other primary and secondary resources, and although readers who have read other work on the internment camps will find much that is familiar, the Mineta family story offers particulars that do not emerge with such clarity in other accounts.”-  Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Interweaving historical background, various accounts, and Mineta’s first-person recollections, Warren skillfully illuminates what it felt like to be targeted and imprisoned. Mineta’s memories range from seeing his father cry after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, to his own pride at the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized for and provided restitution to internment survivors… There are still too few books for youth about U.S. Japanese-American internment, and this affecting volume offers an essential view.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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