Best New Books: Week of 5/7/2019

I hope you’re all caught up with your reading lists, because you’re going to want to add a lot of books to it after seeing all of the great titles coming out this week. We have everything from suspense to mystery to romance to literary fiction to sci-fi and fantasy. Nonfiction readers are in luck as well, with new books coming out by David McCullough and Jared Diamond, along with a highly anticipated title about a fascinating chapter of Harper Lee’s life. These books and many others make this one of the most exciting weeks of the year so far!



FICTION



The Farm by  Joanne Ramos

farmNestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Description from Goodreads.

“A sharp takedown of the idea of American meritocracy.” – Refinery29

The Farm is a smart, thoughtful novel about women, choices, and the immigrant experience that asks the question: How far would you go for the American dream?” – PopSugar

“Traveling from the glitz of Manhattan to multiethnic, immigrant Queens and the isolation of the rural Hudson Valley, this is an exciting read about the politics of motherhood and female autonomy.” – Library Journal

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The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by  Juliet Grames

seven or eight deaths of stella fortunaFor Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted.

In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.

When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.

In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina. A richly told debut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.

Description from Goodreads.

“Grames’ witty and deeply felt family saga begins in a pre-WWII Italian village, where young Stella Fortuna learns the hard truths of life (and death) as she grows up with an abusive father and immigrates with her family to the U.S.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Entrancing… Grames’ debut will find broad appeal as both an illuminating historical saga and a vivid portrait of a strong woman struggling to break free from the confines of her gender.” – BookPage

“[A] vivid and moving debut… With her story of an “ordinary” woman who is anything but, Grames explores not just the immigrant experience but the stages of a woman’s life. This is a sharp and richly satisfying novel.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Light From Other Stars by  Erika Swyler

light from other starsEleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach—if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda’s newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter’s childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time.

Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world. But she finds an unexpected ally in Betheen, the mother she’s never quite understood, who surprises Nedda by seeing her more clearly than anyone else. 

Decades later, Nedda has achieved her long-held dream, and as she floats in antigravity, far from earth, she and her crewmates face a serious crisis. Nedda may hold the key to the solution, if she can come to terms with her past and the future that awaits her. 

Light from Other Stars is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, and the cost of meaningful work. It questions how our lives have changed, what progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.

Description from Goodreads.

“A masterful story that hops through time to tell a tale of love and ambition, grief and resilience… It is full of joy and wonder, a reminder to never stop looking up into the stars and the infinite spaces in between them.” – Nylon

“A tender and ambitious journey through space and time, Light From Other Stars contains stunning twists and turns along the way from Nedda’s childhood to her later life aboard a spacecraft on a mission bound for Mars.” – Vulture

“Keenly wrought characters and evocative prose… [a] heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring conclusion. Grand in scope and graceful in execution… profound.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Guest Book by  Sarah Blake

guest bookThe Guest Book follows three generations of a powerful American family, a family that “used to run the world.”

And when the novel begins in 1935, they still do. Kitty and Ogden Milton appear to have everything—perfect children, good looks, a love everyone envies. But after a tragedy befalls them, Ogden tries to bring Kitty back to life by purchasing an island in Maine. That island, and its house, come to define and burnish the Milton family, year after year after year. And it is there that Kitty issues a refusal that will haunt her till the day she dies.

In 1959 a young Jewish man, Len Levy, will get a job in Ogden’s bank and earn the admiration of Ogden and one of his daughters, but the scorn of everyone else. Len’s best friend Reg Pauling has always been the only black man in the room—at Harvard, at work, and finally at the Miltons’ island in Maine.

An island that, at the dawn of the 21st century, this last generation doesn’t have the money to keep. When Kitty’s granddaughter hears that she and her cousins might be forced to sell it, and when her husband brings back disturbing evidence about her grandfather’s past, she realizes she is on the verge of finally understanding the silences that seemed to hover just below the surface of her family all her life.

An ambitious novel that weaves the American past with its present, The Guest Book looks at the racism and power that has been systemically embedded in the US for generations. Brimming with gorgeous writing and bitterly accurate social criticism, it is a literary tour de force.

Description from Goodreads.

“An American epic in the truest sense… Blake humanely but grippingly explores the heart of a country whose past is based in prejudice.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Blake can write with the dramatic heft of Arthur Miller… The Guest Book is monumental in a way that few novels dare attempt.” – Washington Post

“The story of the Miltons engages not just with history and politics, but with the poetry of the physical world. This novel sets out to be more than a juicy family saga―it aims to depict the moral evolution of a part of American society. Its convincing characters and muscular narrative succeed on both counts.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Last Time I Saw You by  Liv Constantine

last time i saw youDr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list…

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Description from Goodreads.

“From murder and madness to secrets and fraught family relationships, the non-stop glitz gives this tale soapy sheen that makes for perfect escapist summer reading.” – New York Journal of Books

“Another clever whodunit jam-packed with enough twists, turns, and secrets to keep avid thriller readers second-guessing until the bitter end.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Increasingly ingenious twists… expertly ratchets up the tension.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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SUSPENSE



 

The Paris Diversion by  Chris Pavone

paris diversionAmerican expat Kate Moore drops her kids at the international school, makes her shopping rounds, and meets her husband Dexter at their regular cafe a leisurely start to a normal day, St-Germain-des-Pres.

Across the Seine, tech CEO Hunter Forsyth stands on his balcony, perplexed that his police escort just departed, and frustrated that his cell service has cut out; Hunter has important calls to make, not all of them technically legal.

And on the nearby rue de Rivoli, Mahmoud Khalid climbs out of an electrician’s van, and elbows his way into the crowded courtyard of the world’s largest museum, in the epicenter of Western civilization. He sets down his metal briefcase, and removes his windbreaker.

That’s when people start to scream.

Everyone has big plans for the day. Dexter is going to make a small fortune, finally digging himself out of a deep financial hole, via an extremely risky investment. Hunter is going to make a huge fortune, with a major corporate acquisition that will send his company’s stock soaring. Kate has less ambitious plans: preparations for tonight’s dinner party–one of those homemaker obligations she still hasn’t embraced, even after a half-decade of this life–and an uneventful workday at the Paris Substation, the clandestine cadre of operatives that she’s been running, not entirely successfully, increasingly convinced that every day could be the last of her career. But every day is also a fresh chance to prove her own relevance, never more so than during today’s momentous events.

And Mahmoud? He is planning to die today. And he won’t be the only one.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] fast-paced thriller… shelve alongside le Carré, Forsyth, and other masters of foreign intrigue.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A terrific writer, he paints a beautiful picture on the page, bringing Paris right to life for readers, who—through his plentiful, vibrant descriptions—will feel like they’re there with Kate as things unfold. Likewise, in addition to his clean prose, he knows how to spin a solid mystery, and his latest will no doubt keep readers guessing along the way until he’s ready to reveal the truth.” – The Real Book Spy

“…Pavone’s clever setup and nimble execution buoy the book to an action-packed finish. Fans of latter-day le Carré will be well satisfied.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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MYSTERY



The Stone Circle by  Elly Griffiths

stone circleDCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to “go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there.” He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle’s baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh – another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle – trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.

As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn’t save. The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

Description from Goodreads.

“This superb series never disappoints. Its patented combination of mysterious circumstances, police procedure, and agonizing relationship problems will keep you reading, and feeling, all night.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Enticing… fans of forensic mysteries will find plenty to like.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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HISTORICAL FICTION



The Flight Portfolio by  Julie Orringer

flight portfolioIn 1940, Varian Fry–a Harvard educated American journalist–traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for thirteen months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall.

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls’ ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel’s hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to put down, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer’s gifts as a novelist.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gorgeous… lush… meticulously researched… classic storytelling through a transgressive lens… The Flight Portfolio offers a testament to the enduring power of art, and love, in any form.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Magnificent… As in 2010’s superb The Invisible Bridge, Orringer seamlessly combines compelling inventions with complex fact… Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Gripping. Orringer is a beautiful prose stylist who captures depth of meaning about complex human issues, and she addresses head-on the moral dilemma of making value judgments on individual lives… Vivid.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by  Kim Michele Richardson

book woman of troublesome creekIn 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack Horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] gem… readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of rural Kentucky life. ” – Publishers Weekly

“With a focus on the personal joy and broadened horizons that can result from access to reading material, this well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky. A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…one of the most original and unusual contributions they will encounter in the realm of the current literature of the American South… Kim Michele Richardson’s presentation of her protagonist’s challenges and perseverance within a culture hostile to deviation from norms is a significant accomplishment. Equally valuable is her reminder of the priceless necessity, the enduring thrill, of books and reading.” – Southern Literary Review

Available Formats:

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ROMANCE



The Bride Test by  Helen Hoang

bride testKhai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working… but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Description from Goodreads.

“With serious moments offset by spot-on humor, this romance has broad appeal, and it will find a special place in the hearts of autistic people and those who love them.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Prepare to fall in love all over again… The Bride Test is a charming love story that is equal parts sexy and sweet.” – PopSugar

“A stunning, superior romance.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by  Sonali Dev

pride prejudice and other flavorsIt is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Description from Goodreads.

“Ideal for romantics and foodies alike.” – Booklist

“Dev adroitly addresses matters of racism, classism, rape culture, and immigrant experiences in this entertaining contemporary story… a complex and riveting work.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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Sunset Beach by  Mary Kay Andrews

sunset beachDrue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm.

Description from Goodreads.

“Andrews’s gift for drawing fascinating characters and her captivating dialogue will pull readers through to the end.” – Publishers Weekly

“Author May Kay Andrews has written another delightful book full of great characters, a twisty-turn[y] story that keeps the reader engaged right to the end. A perfect summer read.” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

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SCI-FI & FANTASY



Exhalation by  Ted Chiang

exhalationThis much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: “Omphalos” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.”

In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth—What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?—and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.

Description from Goodreads.

“Exquisitely crafted… One after another, Chiang’s stories claim their place in your mind until you’re completely swept up in his provocative and at times even charming world… Each story is a carefully considered, finely honed machine. . . . What makes Exhalation particularly brilliant is that not one of the stories feels like it’s designed to be thought-provoking in a stilted, academic way. Chiang is an entertaining, empathetic writer first, before being one of contemporary sci-fi’s intellectual powerhouses, and each story reads that way… [Chiang is] one of the most exciting voices in his field.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“Chiang’s long-awaited second collection… continues to explore emotional and metaphysical landscapes with precise and incisive prose… Chiang remains one of the most skilled stylists in sf, and this will appear to genre and literary-fiction fans alike.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“An instant classic… Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers in a big way.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[Chiang] is so good that this book qualifies as an event.” – Newsday

Available Formats:

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Middlegame by  Seanan McGuire

middlegameMeet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Description from Goodreads.

“Satisfying on all levels of the reading experience: thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A]n ambitious piece of world building from a master of the craft… thoroughly engaging.” – Booklist

“McGuire sets a high bar for alchemy-based stories in this new stand-alone, twisting themes of time and space as seen through the eyes of children… This singular work keeps readers thinking long after the final page.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

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Westside by  W.M. Akers

westsideNew York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind.

It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave.

It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home.

Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?”

Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face.

All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it.

Introducing a truly remarkable female detective, Westside is a mystery steeped in the supernatural and shot through with gunfights, rotgut whiskey, and sizzling Dixieland jazz. Full of dazzling color, delightful twists, and truly thrilling action, it announces the arrival of a remarkable talent.

Description from Goodreads.

“Akers’ debut novel is an addictively readable fusion of mystery, dark fantasy, alternate history, and existential horror… It’s like a literary shot of Prohibition-era rotgut moonshine—bracing, quite possibly hallucination-inducing, and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before… The illegitimate love child of Algernon Blackwood and Raymond Chandler.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Full of action and colorful characters, this genre mash-up is expertly done and will be enjoyed by fans of mysteries and fantasy alike.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A cast of meticulously developed and memorable characters as well as strong worldbuilding and atmospherics… Fans of genre-bending fiction will relish this inventive mix of mystery and the paranormal.” – Publishers Weekly

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Million Mile Road Trip by  Rudy Rucker

million mile road tripWhen a seemingly-innocent trumpet solo somehow opens a transdimensional connection to Mappyworld, a parallel universe containing a single, endless plain divided by ridges into basin-like worlds, three California teens find themselves taken on a million mile road trip across a landscape of alien civilizations in a beat-up, purple 80s wagon . . . with a dark-energy motor, graphene tires and quantum shocks, of course. Their goal? To stop carnivorous flying saucers from invading Earth. And, just maybe, to find love along the way. 

Million Mile Road Trip is a phantasmagoric roller-coaster ride—mind warpingly smart and wildly funny, with a warmly beating heart. 

Night Shade Books’ ten-volume series with Rudy Rucker collects nine of the brilliantly weird novels for which the mathematician-turned-author is known, as well as a tenth, never-before-published book, Million Mile Road Trip. We’re proud to collect in one place so much of the work of this influential figure in the early cyberpunk scene, and to share Rucker’s fascinating, unique worldview with an entirely new generation of readers.

Description from Goodreads.

“Tipping his hat to Thomas Pynchon, Jack Kerouac, and Douglas Adams, Rucker immerses readers in a fantastical roadtrip adventure that’s a wild ride of unmitigated joy… he ties everything together with internal consistency, playful use of language that keeps his ideas alien yet accessible, and a solid grounding in fourth-dimensional math. This wacky adventure is a geeky reader’s delight.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
 
“Rucker’s book is a fast-paced, absurd, and entertaining road trip through a fever dream—and that’s a good thing.” – Booklist

“A suitably mind-bending, transreal novel that mutates a classic road-trip structure into a wacky sci-fi adventure for the ages… Packed with heady math and physics, written in the style of Kerouac, with plot twists aplenty and symbolism right out of Pynchon, it’s a head trip that’s even weirder than it sounds.” – B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

Available Formats:

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NONFICTION



Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by  Casey Cep

furious hoursThe stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more working on her own version of the case.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

Description from Goodreads.

“…composed of many parts, and any one of those parts would make a good book. Together, they make a great book… This is a story concerned with justice and the truth, but it is also about art, mystery, and our darkest temptations.” – Amazon Book Review

“By fully detailing the crimes before Lee even appears, Cep allows readers to see the case through Lee’s eyes and recognize its nascent literary potential. Above all, this is a book about inspiration and how a passion for the mysteries of humanity can cause an undeniable creative spark. A well-tempered blend of true crime and literary lore.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…a rich, ambitious, beautifully written book… As a portrayal of the life of a writer, the section on Lee is by itself worth the price of admission.” – Washington Post

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No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir by  Ani DiFranco

no walls and the recurring dreamIn her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole.

In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence–from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records.

In these pages, as in life, she never hesitates to challenge established rules and expectations, maintaining a level of artistic integrity that has impressed many and antagonized more than a few. Ani continues to be a major touring and recording artist as well as a celebrated activist and feminist, standing as living proof that you can overcome all personal and societal obstacles to be who you are and to follow your dreams.

Description from Goodreads.

“DiFranco is raw, sensitive, and thoughtful throughout her memoir… Page after passionate page… She’s also very funny… No Walls and the Recurring Dream ultimately offers a trip back in time.” – Jezebel

“[Ani] DiFranco chronicles her rise to fame with engaging candor. Fending for herself by age 15, she survived each unusual day with ingenuity and perseverance… DiFranco is a natural storyteller, infusing these pages—with their frequent offbeat anecdotes, unusual characters, and significant episodes—with wit, humor, and perspective. She also intersperses the narrative with some of her most notable poetry. DiFranco has defied convention yet remained true to herself. A must for her fans, this riveting, thought-provoking work will also appeal to anyone who enjoys a well-written autobiography.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The Grammy-winning [Ani DiFranco] recounts the eventful story of her life as a musician and feminist political activist… Interspersed throughout with feminist/political musings and anecdotes about such music legends as Pete Seeger, Prince, and Bob Dylan, DiFranco’s tale celebrates both independent music and an unconventional life daringly lived. A refreshingly frank and free-spirited memoir from a feminist icon.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The Pioneers by  David McCullough

pioneersAs part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River.

McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.

Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough’s signature narrative energy.

Description from Goodreads.

“David McCullough has become perhaps our best-loved chronicler of America’s past… The Pioneers is the account not just of one Ohio settlement but of myriad such places across America, where innumerable immigrants (as the settlers were known) came to make a fresh start in a strange land. It is a story as resonant today as ever.” – The Wall Street Journal

“A rollicking tale of little-known patriots and the big-time impact they had on our country.” – Washington Independent Review of Books

“McCullough tells the story of these pioneer heroes in his characteristic narrative manner, which, as in his other books, combines eloquence, erudition, vividness, and remarkable insight. He is a national treasure.” – New York Journal of Books

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Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by  Jared Diamond

upheavalIn his international bestsellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding of what makes civilizations rise and fall. Now, in his third book in this monumental trilogy, he reveals how successful nations recover from crises while adopting selective changes — a coping mechanism more commonly associated with individuals recovering from personal crises.

Diamond compares how six countries have survived recent upheavals — ranging from the forced opening of Japan by U.S. Commodore Perry’s fleet, to the Soviet Union’s attack on Finland, to a murderous coup or countercoup in Chile and Indonesia, to the transformations of Germany and Austria after World War Two. Because Diamond has lived and spoken the language in five of these six countries, he can present gut-wrenching histories experienced firsthand. These nations coped, to varying degrees, through mechanisms such as acknowledgment of responsibility, painfully honest self-appraisal, and learning from models of other nations. Looking to the future, Diamond examines whether the United States, Japan, and the whole world are successfully coping with the grave crises they currently face. Can we learn from lessons of the past? 

Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond’s books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet.

Description from Goodreads.

“…a well-documented comparative study exploring how nations can change for the better through the sort of coping mechanisms we typically associate with personal trauma. …Diamond’s careful analysis of how nations have coped with their trauma can point toward solutions for stubborn issues – such as income inequality, immigration and climate change – that bedevil the future.” – USA Today

“Diamond offers far-ranging, erudite, lucid accounts of historical cruxes, spiced by sharp-eyed personal observations—he seems to have been everywhere—of national characters and quirks.” – Publishers Weekly

“Vintage Diamond; of a piece with Collapse (2004) and likely to appeal to the same broad audience.” – Kirkus Reviews

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No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by  Rachel Louise Snyder

no visible bruisesWe call it domestic violence. We call it private violence. Sometimes we call it intimate terrorism. But whatever we call it, we generally do not believe it has anything at all to do with us, despite the World Health Organization deeming it a “global epidemic.” In America, domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and yet it remains locked in silence, even as its tendrils reach unseen into so many of our most pressing national issues, from our economy to our education system, from mass shootings to mass incarceration to #MeToo. We still have not taken the true measure of this problem.

In No Visible Bruises, journalist Rachel Louise Snyder gives context for what we don’t know we’re seeing. She frames this urgent and immersive account of the scale of domestic violence in our country around key stories that explode the common myths-that if things were bad enough, victims would just leave; that a violent person cannot become nonviolent; that shelter is an adequate response; and most insidiously that violence inside the home is a private matter, sealed from the public sphere and disconnected from other forms of violence. Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores the real roots of private violence, its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gut-wrenching, required reading.” – Esquire

“A brilliant work… what makes it move with the suspense of a beach novel is Snyder’s passionate storytelling, [which] often soars to the point of lyricism but remains unfailingly honest.” – Ms.

“Snyder [goes] both wide and deep… her empathy for the victims is powerful, and infectious. But so is her interest in the perpetrators, some of whom may be able to recover, to change and atone. And as she makes very clear, those who undertake reform — studying and quantifying risk, asking smart questions about whether women’s shelters help or hurt, counseling survivors and getting them the support they need — are heroes.” – Los Angeles Times

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Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by  Fredrik Backman

things my son needs to know about the worldThings My Son Needs to Know About the World collects the personal dispatches from the front lines of one of the most daunting experiences any man can experience: fatherhood.

As he conveys his profound awe at experiencing all the “firsts” that fill him with wonder and catch him completely unprepared, Fredrik Backman doesn’t shy away from revealing his own false steps and fatherly flaws, tackling issues both great and small, from masculinity and mid-life crises to practical jokes and poop.

In between the sleep-deprived lows and wonderful highs, Backman takes a step back to share the true story of falling in love with a woman who is his complete opposite, and learning to live a life that revolves around the people you care about unconditionally. Alternating between humorous side notes and longer essays offering his son advice as he grows up and ventures out into the world, Backman relays the big and small lessons in life, including:

-How to find the team you belong to
-Why airports explain everything about religion and war
-The reason starting a band is crucial to cultivating and keeping friendships
-How to beat Monkey Island 3
-Why, sometimes, a dad might hold onto his son’s hand just a little too tight

This is an irresistible and insightful collection, perfect for new parents and fans of Backman’s “unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness). As he eloquently reminds us, “You can be whatever you want to be, but that’s nowhere near as important as knowing that you can be exactly who you are.”

Description from Goodreads.

“Delightful, thoughtful essays on fatherhood… Parents—especially fathers—will appreciate Backman’s witty and touching lessons.” – Publishers Weekly

“Each chapter is filled with Backman’s dry wit and brutal honesty, but behind all of the humor is real, heartfelt sentiment and poignant advice. This will make readers laugh out loud, but new fathers discovering the ups and downs of parenting will especially relate to this hilarious account of fatherhood.” – Booklist

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Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by  Tom Phillips

humansModern humans have come a long way in the seventy thousand years they’ve walked the earth. Art, science, culture, trade—on the evolutionary food chain, we’re true winners. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and sometimes—just occasionally—we’ve managed to truly f*ck things up.

Weaving together history, science, politics and pop culture, Humans offers a panoramic exploration of humankind in all its glory, or lack thereof. From Lucy, our first ancestor, who fell out of a tree and died, to General Zhou Shou of China, who stored gunpowder in his palace before a lantern festival, to the Austrian army attacking itself one drunken night, to the most spectacular fails of the present day, Humans reveals how even the most mundane mistakes can shift the course of civilization as we know it. Lively, wry and brimming with brilliant insight, this unique compendium offers a fresh take on world history and is one of the most entertaining reads of the year.

Description from Goodreads.

“Chronicles humanity’s myriad follies down the ages with malicious glee and much wit… a rib-tickling page-turner.” – Business Standard

“It’s hard to imagine someone other than Phillips pulling off a 250+ page roast of mankind, but his perfect blend of brilliance and goofiness makes it a joy to read.” – Buzzfeed

“Cheeky and vulgar yet surprisingly erudite, the book is like Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens retold by a standup comedian a few drinks in.” – Booklist

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The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America by  Daniel Okrent

guarded gateA forgotten, dark chapter of American history with implications for the current day, The Guarded Gate tells the story of the scientists who argued that certain nationalities were inherently inferior, providing the intellectual justification for the harshest immigration law in American history. Brandished by the upper class Bostonians and New Yorkers—many of them progressives—who led the anti-immigration movement, the eugenic arguments helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other unwanted groups out of the US for more than 40 years.

Over five years in the writing, The Guarded Gate tells the complete story from its beginning in 1895, when Henry Cabot Lodge and other Boston Brahmins launched their anti-immigrant campaign. In 1921, Vice President Calvin Coolidge declared that “biological laws” had proven the inferiority of southern and eastern Europeans; the restrictive law was enacted three years later. In his characteristic style, both lively and authoritative, Okrent brings to life the rich cast of characters from this time, including Lodge’s closest friend, Theodore Roosevelt; Charles Darwin’s first cousin, Francis Galton, the idiosyncratic polymath who gave life to eugenics; the fabulously wealthy and profoundly bigoted Madison Grant, founder of the Bronx Zoo, and his best friend, H. Fairfield Osborn, director of the American Museum of Natural History; Margaret Sanger, who saw eugenics as a sensible adjunct to her birth control campaign; and Maxwell Perkins, the celebrated editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. A work of history relevant for today, The Guarded Gate is an important, insightful tale that painstakingly connects the American eugenicists to the rise of Nazism, and shows how their beliefs found fertile soil in the minds of citizens and leaders both here and abroad.

Description from Goodreads.

“A frighteningly timely book about a particularly ugly period in American history, a bigotry-riddled chapter many thought was closed but that shows recent signs of reopening… One of the narrative’s great strengths is the author’s inclusion of dozens of minibiographies illuminating the backgrounds of the racist politicians and the promoters of phony eugenics ‘research’… [A] revelatory and necessary historical account.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Engrossing… this fascinating study vividly illuminates the many injustices that the pseudoscience of eugenics inflicted on so many would-be Americans.” – Publishers Weekly

“A sobering, valuable contribution to discussions about immigration.” – Booklist

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