Best New Books: Week of 8/27/2019

One of the best things about a great book is how it can totally transport you into another world, sometimes for pure escapism, but other times to help you better understand the lives of our fellow humans. The 4 new fiction releases we’ve highlighted this week do a tremendous job of helping with the latter, ranging from the experiences of a volunteer in Afghanistan, to the journey of a family escaping Syria, to the lives of 4 women who first meet in college, to a collection of short stories that takes a look at our very humanity. Of course, if you’re looking for escapism, we have a pair of certain-to-be-bestselling mysteries that should catch your eye as well.



FICTION



Everything Inside by  Edwidge Danticat ★

everything insideRich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

In these eight powerful, emotionally absorbing stories, a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seem like noble reasons, but with irreparable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream even as she fights for her survival; two lovers reunite after unimaginable tragedy, both for their country and in their lives; a baby’s christening brings three generations of a family to a precarious dance between old and new; a man falls to his death in slow motion, reliving the defining moments of the life he is about to lose.

This is the indelible work of a keen observer of the human heart—a master at her best.

Description from Goodreads.

“Vast, moving, and intimate… Everything Inside explores all at once the full scope of human experience [and] tackles head on the complexity and impossibility of feeling.” – Literary Hub

“Danticat is a master… In these narratives of unexpected romance, personal tragedy, and family complications, her compassionate sensitivity to the ties that bind us shines through.” – Esquire

“Outstanding; deeply memorable… funny, charming, touching… Set among the Haitian ‘dyaspora,’ the tales describe the complicated lives of people who live in one place but are drawn elsewhere. Families fracture and reform… In propulsive prose, and with great compassion, Danticat writes both of her characters’ losses and of their determination to continue.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED & BOXED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Beekeeper of Aleppo by  Christy Lefteri

beekeeper of aleppoNuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. It is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

Description from Goodreads.

“Nuri’s story rings with authenticity, from the vast, impersonal cruelties of war to the tiny kindnesses that help people survive it… A well-crafted structure and a troubled but engaging narrator power this moving story of Syrian refugees.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Great for book club… Christy Lefteri, who volunteered at a refugee center in Athens, tells a powerful story about the refugee experience, hope, and love.” – Real Simple

“In fluid, forthright language, Lefteri brings us humbly closer to the refugee experience as beekeeper Nuri and his wife, an artist named Afra who has gone blind from the horrors she’s witnessed, escape Aleppo and travel dangerously to Great Britain… There’s no overloading the deck with drama; this story tells itself, absorbingly and heartrendingly.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


A Door in the Earth by  Amy Waldman

door in the earthParveen Shamsa, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. 

When she discovers a bestselling book called Mother Afghanistan, a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane’s experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.

When she arrives, however, Crane’s maternity clinic, while grandly equipped, is mostly unstaffed. The villagers do not exhibit the gratitude she expected to receive. And Crane’s memoir appears to be littered with mistakes, or outright fabrications. As the reasons for Parveen’s pilgrimage crumble beneath her, the U.S. military, also drawn by Crane’s book, turns up to pave the sole road to the village, bringing the war in their wake. When a fatal ambush occurs, Parveen must decide whether her loyalties lie with the villagers or the soldiers – and she must determine her own relationship to the truth.

Amy Waldman, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times after 9/11, has created a taut, propulsive novel about power, perspective, and idealism, brushing aside the dust of America’s longest-standing war to reveal the complicated truths beneath. A Door in the Earth is the rarest of books, one that helps us understand living history through poignant characters and unforgettable storytelling.

Description from Goodreads.

“Waldman writes about the clash of cultures and ideals with clean-lined grace and quiet eye-level empathy.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Waldman is an ingenious and probing situational novelist… In this deeply well-informed, utterly engrossing, mischievously disarming, and stealthily suspenseful tale of slow and painful realizations, she hits the mark over and over again… Every aspect of this complex and caustic tale of hype and harm is saturated with insight and ruefulness as Parveen wises up and Waldman considers womanhood and choice, literacy and translation, hubris and lies, unintended consequences, and the devastating chaos of war.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Through a kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives, Waldman delivers a breathtaking and achingly nuanced examination of the grays in a landscape where black and white answers have long been the only currency. A bone-chilling takedown of America’s misguided use of soft power.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Other’s Gold by  Elizabeth Ames

other's goldAssigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorne College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.

The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] impressive debut… Ames’s well-drawn characters and startling prose will linger with you.” – Real Simple

“Elizabeth Ames’s addictive debut, The Other’s Gold, is in some ways a conventional book, a campus novel, centered on the friendship of four women who fall into categories that seem a bit too predictable (the pretty one, the sporty one, etc.). But, just as collegiate first impressions can mutate and evolve, the book—along with its characters—grows increasingly complex, charting the way that the bonds forged in those heady moments when people are permitted to reinvent themselves can become the defining ties of adult life… This novel will resonate with anyone who guards an inner circle forged in dorm rooms and dining halls, but it is also, in the end, more than that.” – Vogue

The Other’s Gold is as beautifully written and epic in scope as A Little Life, but featuring women characters.” – Refinery29

Available Formats:

Print Book



MYSTERY



A Better Man by  Louise Penny

better manIt’s Gamache’s first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Flood waters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.

As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin should be abandoned. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.

Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel…, he resumes the search.

As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.

In the next novel in this “constantly surprising series that deepens and darkens as it evolves” (New York Times Book Review), Gamache must face a horrific possibility, and a burning question.

What would you do if your child’s killer walked free?

Description from Goodreads.

“Enchanting… one of his most ennobling missions.” – New York Times Book Review

“The appeal of this series and especially of Gamache himself has always been Penny’s ability to show her hero moving from the tangible, brutal facts of murder to the emotions within, the stories in the blood. There are multiple stories, often contradictory, to be found in the many-tentacled web of human tragedy and suffering that Gamache teases to the surface in this moving exploration of ties that both bind and destroy.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

A Better Man, with its mix of meteorological suspense, psychological insight and criminal pursuit, is arguably the best book yet in an outstanding, original oeuvre.” – Wall Street Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


The Girl Who Lived Twice by  David Lagercrantz

girl who lived twiceLisbeth Salander–the fierce, unstoppable girl with the dragon tattoo–has disappeared. She’s sold her apartment in Stockholm. She’s gone silent electronically. She’s told no one where she is. And no one is aware that at long last she’s got her primal enemy, her twin sister, Camilla, squarely in her sights. 

Mikael Blomkvist is trying to reach Lisbeth. He needs her help unraveling the identity of a man who lived and died on the streets in Stockholm–a man who does not exist in any official records and whose garbled last words hinted at possible damaging knowledge of people in the highest echelons of government and industry. In his pocket was a crumpled piece of paper with Blomkvist’s phone number on it. 

Once again, Salander and Blomkvist will come to each other’s aid, moving in tandem toward the truths they each seek. In the end, it will be Blomkvist–in a moment of unimaginable self-sacrifice–who will make it possible for Lisbeth to face the most important battle of her life, and, finally, to put her past to rest.

Description from Goodreads.

“A murder mystery inside an espionage conspiracy wrapped in an action thriller—a unique concoction that should leave Salander’s legion of followers clamoring for more.” – Wall Street Journal
 
“A quest for revenge and atonement that plumbs the depths of Russian troll factories and scales the heights of Mount Everest.” – Time

“…it all makes for good bloody fun… Formulaic, but it’s a formula that still works, as Salander and assorted bad guys spread righteous mayhem wherever they go.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s