Best New Books: Week of 7/23/2019

The heat has finally broken, which means it’s perfect weather for sitting outside with a book! As usual, we have several excellent new titles arriving at the library today across a variety of genres, so check out the list below, and then enjoy a great story in the far more comfortable sunshine!



FICTION



The Lager Queen of Minnesota by  J. Ryan Stradal ★

lager queen of minnesotaTwo sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can’t help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.

With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home… if it’s not too late.

Meanwhile, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up–will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?

Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved, and delighted.

Description from Goodreads.

“Everything about this book satisfies — from how the characters grow to how beer-making is described to Stradal’s hilarious assessment of lagers vs. IPAs. You may never drink a beer in ignorance again.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This book tastes great, is quite filling and never bitter.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“Stradal’s writing is sharp and funny while still managing to treat each character with warmth and respect…  this is an ultimately hopeful and heartwarming story… Readers will love watching these truly original characters overcome their challenges and take care of each other. An absolutely delightful read, perfect for a summer day with a good beer and a piece of pie.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…complex female characters, sudden tragedies, [and] culinary descriptions that awaken all your senses.” – Entertainment Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


You’ve Been Volunteered by  Laurie Gelman

you've been volunteeredIf you’ve ever been a room parent or school volunteer, Jen Dixon is your hero. She says what every class mom is really thinking, whether in her notoriously frank emails or standup-worthy interactions with the micromanaging PTA President and the gamut of difficult parents. Luckily, she has the charm and wit to get away with it—most of the time. Jen is sassier than ever but dealing with a whole new set of challenges, in the world of parental politics and at home.

She’s been roped into room-parenting yet again, for her son Max’s third grade class, but as her husband buries himself in work, her older daughters navigate adulthood, and Jen’s own aging parents start to need some parenting themselves, Jen gets pulled in more directions than any one mom, or superhero, can handle.

Refreshingly down-to-earth and brimming with warmth, Dixon’s next chapter will keep you turning the pages to find out what’s really going on under the veneer of polite parent interactions, and have you laughing along with her the whole way.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gelman gets right to the point reuniting readers with the main character they fell in love with in her debut, Class Mom… Her antics are laugh-out-loud funny, and she shows no signs of slowing down. The tone and pacing are excellent, and new characters, who come with their own issues and snark, are delightful.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“All mothers will find themselves relating to Jen’s struggles as a mother and wife in You’ve Been Volunteered.” – WorkingMother.com

“Jen’s cheeky and mildly cynical worldview will delight any mom who has ever had to convince fellow parents to bring gluten-free cupcakes to the class party. Give to fans of Allison Pearson and of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic books.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


The Marriage Clock by  Zara Raheem

marriage clockTo Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents, finding a husband in their South Asian-Muslim American community is as easy as match, meet, marry. But for Leila, a marriage of arrangement clashes with her lifelong dreams of a Bollywood romance which has her convinced that real love happens before marriage, not the other way around.

Finding the right husband was always part of her life-plan, but after 26 years of singledom, even Leila is starting to get nervous. And to make matters worse, her parents are panicking, the neighbors are talking, and she’s wondering, are her expectations just too high? So Leila decides it’s time to stop dreaming and start dating.

She makes a deal with her parents: they’ll give her three months, until their 30th wedding anniversary, to find a husband on her own terms. But if she fails, they’ll take over and arrange her marriage for her.

With the stakes set, Leila succumbs to the impossible mission of satisfying her parents’ expectations, while also fulfilling her own western ideals of love. But after a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates and even ambush dates, the sparks just don’t fly! And now, with the marriage clock ticking, and her 3-month deadline looming in the horizon, Leila must face the consequences of what might happen if she doesn’t find “the one…”

Description from Goodreads.

“Please cancel your weekend plans, because once you dive into The Marriage Clock, it’ll be impossible to tear yourself away. This romantic and insightful book introduces us to Leila Abid, who’s torn between her traditional parents trying to arrange her marriage and her own desire for agency.” – Cosmopolitan

“Raheem’s debut uses chick-lit tropes to smartly skewer modern ways of dating and to bring humor to more traditional South Asian ones.” – Booklist

“Zara Raheem’s The Marriage Clock is a unique, beautiful story about a woman coming to accept herself – and the notion that maybe marriage isn’t everything.” – All About Romance

Available Formats:

Print Book



SUSPENSE



Beijing Payback by  Daniel Nieh

beijing paybackVictor Li is devastated by his father’s murder, and shocked by a confessional letter he finds among his father’s things. In it, his father admits that he was never just a restaurateur—in fact he was part of a vast international crime syndicate that formed during China’s leanest communist years.

Victor travels to Beijing, where he navigates his father’s secret criminal life, confronting decades-old grudges, violent spats, and a shocking new enterprise that the organization wants to undertake. Standing up against it is likely what got his father killed, but Victor remains undeterred. He enlists his growing network of allies and friends to finish what his father started, no matter the costs.

Description from Goodreads.

“First-time novelist Nieh is a Chinese-English translator and widely traveled, and his Beijing scenes are gritty and scary… Grabs readers early and doesn’t readily let go.” – Library Journal

“Remarkable… This impressive blend of crime and coming-of-age marks Nieh as a talent to watch.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] staccato-paced, character-driven thriller… Readers will welcome the opportunity to follow good-guy Victor’s path of retribution and self-discovery.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book


A Stranger on the Beach by  Michele Campbell

stranger on the beachThere is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort… and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

Description from Goodreads.

“A Stranger on the Beach will keep you reading―and guessing―from one end of your beach weekend to the other.” – Coastal Living

“Engrossing… breezy intrigue on a hot summer day.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A roller coaster of fear and intrigue.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook



MYSTERY



Lady in the Lake by  Laura Lippman ★

lady in the lakeIn 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know–everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl–assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie–and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life–a jewelery store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people–including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

Description from Goodreads.

“Riveting… This is a superb character study, a terrific newspaper novel, and a fascinating look at urban life and racial discrimination in the ’60s… Lippman’s critical acclaim and sales figures continue to climb, and this genre-crossing thriller will extend her reach still further.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Lippman’s fans will devour this sophisticated crime novel, which captures the era’s zeitgeist while painting a striking portrait of unapologetic female ambition.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…as much a mystery as it is a stylized look at life in 1966 Baltimore. Another must read from Lippman.” – Popsugar

“The story is bigger than the crime, and the crime is bigger than its solution, making Lippman’s skill as a mystery novelist work as icing on the cake. The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama…” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook



SCI-FI & FANTASY



Gods of Jade and Shadow by  Silvia Moreno-Garcia

gods of jade and shadowThe Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Description from Goodreads.

“Snappy dialog, stellar worldbuilding, lyrical prose, and a slow-burn romance make this a standout…” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] magical novel of duality, tradition, and change… Readers will gladly immerse themselves in Moreno-Garcia’s rich and complex tale of desperate hopes and complicated relationships.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“This book builds a world that is vibrant with life, rich in culture, and followed by haunting shadows that makes your spine tingle. Each character and each location is so beautifully constructed that you are completely immersed…” – The Nerd Daily

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



NONFICTION



Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come by  Richard Preston

crisis in the red zoneThis time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end–as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before–30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the outbreak, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict–physical, emotional, and ethical–Crisis in the Red Zone is an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013-2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined–in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.

The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come.

Description from Goodreads.

“…extraordinary… Preston brings nuance and humanity to this story in a way few can… By the end of this exhilarating book, you’ll agree with his ominous conclusion: There is no such thing as one case of Ebola.” – USA Today

“Preston follows up his 1994 book The Hot Zone with another terrifying real-life thriller about the threat of viruses… This nonfiction page-turner will both educate and scare readers.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“An exhaustive and terrifying story of viral mayhem that will rivet readers.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by  Rachel DeLoache Williams

my friend annaHow does it feel to be betrayed by your closest friend? A close friend who turns out to be the most prolific grifter in New York City…

This is the true story of Anna Delvey, the fake heiress whose dizzying deceit and elaborate con-artistry deceived the Soho hipster scene before her ruse was finally and dramatically exposed.

After meeting through mutual friends, the ‘Russian heiress’ Anna Delvey and Rachel DeLoache Williams soon became inseparable. Theirs was an intoxicating world of endless excess: high dining, personal trainer sessions, a luxury holiday… and Anna footed almost every bill.

But after Anna’s debit card was declined in a Moroccan medina whilst on holiday in a five-star luxury resort, Rachel began to suspect that her increasingly mysterious friend was not all she seemed.

This is the incredible story of how Anna Sorokin conned the high-rollers of the NYC social scene and convinced her close friend of an entirely concocted fantasy, the product of falsified bank documents, bad cheques and carefully edited online photos.

Written by Rachel DeLoache Williams, the Vanity Fair photography editor who believed Anna’s lies before helping the police to track her down (fittingly, deciphering Anna’s location using Instagram), this is Catch Me If You Can with Instagram filters. Between Anna, Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland (Anna even tried to scam Billy) and Elizabeth Holmes, whose start-up app duped the high and mighty of Silicon Valley, this is the year of the scammer.

Description from Goodreads.

“My Friend Anna is sensational… the gritty, glittery story of the woman who defined the Summer of Scam.” – Bustle

My Friend Anna is the dishy story you’ve been craving ever since Anna Delvey first made headlines… a harrowing account of what it’s like to be conned.” – Refinery29

“Beach reads should be light, fun, and serve a lot dish. That’s why number one on my summer reading list is My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams.” – Town & Country

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood by  J. Michael Straczynski

becoming supermanIn this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.

For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics.  Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.

Joe’s early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past. 

To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.

Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life.  It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] frank memoir that’s equally harrowing and triumphant.” – Publishers Weekly

“Becoming Superman is a valuable resource for those wishing to look behind the curtain to one of pop culture’s most cherished and esteemed writers… It is an incredible story of familial abuse and its aftermath, of perseverance and fortitude, of endurance and determination. Highly recommended.” – Fantasy Book Review

“A deeply moving testament to the power of storytelling, and a no-bullshit guide to becoming, if not Superman, a better person and writer.” – Tor.com

Available Formats:

Print Book

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