Best New Books: Week of 1/23/2018

If there is any unifying theme showing up in this week’s exciting new releases, it would be the lives of women facing trials inflicted on them by men, making them perfectly timed for our current #MeToo cultural moment. This is especially prevalent in the new mystery and suspense books coming out, which include some of the best reviewed of the year so far. We also have some interesting general fiction titles, a pair of promising romances, and a non-fiction book that might help us all to learn a little bit more about leading a happy life by following the wisdom of our elders.



FICTION



Eternal Life by  Dara Horn

eternal lifeRachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.

But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.

Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.

Description from Goodreads.

“Both heady time travel and a thoughtful meditation on the meaning of life; highly recommended.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A fresh exploration of memory and the future…Poignant and thoughtful.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book


Brass by  Xhenet Aliu

brassA fierce debut novel about mothers and daughters, haves and have-nots, and the stark realities behind the American Dream.

A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams—and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it’s the place they can’t seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she’s pregnant, Elsie can’t help wondering where Bashkim’s heart really lies, and what he’ll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she’s stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie—a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

Description from Goodreads.

“Xhenet Aliu’s bright and brash debut novel bursts forth with fearless wit and a take-no-prisoners attitude. . . . This is not a voice you’ve heard before. . . . . Brass is a unique twist on a mother-daughter story as well as an immigrant’s tale, with reflections on abandonment, dreams, disappointment and the kind of resilience it takes to endure, despite all odds.” – BookPage

“This glimmering debut novel reflects on mother-daughter connections, abandonment and resilience, and dreams that endure despite the odds. . . . Aliu’s riveting, sensitive work shines with warmth, clarity, and a generosity of spirit. Her characters are nuanced and real, capable of taking risks, making mistakes, and growing in unexpected ways. Aliu’s writing is polished and precise, bringing her characters glowingly to life.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Pearl Sister by  Lucinda Riley

pearl sisterFrom the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.

CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.

Description from Goodreads.

“A unique dual timeline saga, rich with history and setting as well as emotion. This fourth book follows CeCe to discover her roots, as three of her sisters have done before her, but also to discover herself — and the journey is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Riley has a distinct gift for setting, and as such the locales along CeCe’s travels come alive under her masterful pen. From the beaches of Thailand to the Australian outback to a London flat, the landscapes are vividly drawn and lushly atmospheric. The dual timeline aspect is seamlessly integrated with the story and will keep readers glued to the page, waiting to see how it all connects.” – RT Book Reviews

“Riley’s meticulous research and attention to detail immerse readers in historical background and bring CeCe and Kitty to life. Fans of Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, and Riley’s previous novels will adore this.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



MYSTERY & SUSPENSE



Need to Know by  Karen Cleveland

need to knowIn pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

Description from Goodreads.

“You really need to read this. Soon everyone will be taking about it. . . . Impossible to put down . . . It will blow your mind.” – Northern Crime

“The Russia page-turner that should be on everyone’s list.” – New York Post

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Wife by  Alafair Burke

wifeHis scandal. Her secret.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

Description from Goodreads.

“This might be the most gripping, insightful work from the best-selling author Alafair Burke yet. She poses a seemingly impossible, if undeniably compelling, challenge: a woman must either save her life or defend her husband, but not both.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Written by a former prosecutor with a genius for plot, this thrill ride of a novel takes a hard look at loyalty and the violence a secret can cause—especially when that secret involves a revered public figure accused of rape.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway | eBook


The Other Side of Everything by  Lauren Doyle Owens

other side of everythingLaura Lippman meets Megan Abbott in this suspenseful literary debut about three generations of neighbors whose lives intersect in the aftermath of a crime.

Bernard White is a curmudgeonly widower who has lived in Seven Springs, Florida for decades and has kept to himself since his wife passed. When his neighbor is murdered, he emerges from his solitude to reconnect with his fellow octogenarians. These connections become a literal lifeline as a second, and then a third, elderly woman is murdered, and “the originals” as they call themselves, realize that they are being targeted.

Amy Unger is an artist and cancer survivor whose emotional recovery has not been as successful as her physical one. After the woman next door is murdered, she begins to paint imagined scenes from the murder in an effort to cope with her own loss. But when her paintings prove to be too realistic, her neighbors grow suspicious, and she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the police.

And then there’s Maddie Lowe, a teenage waitress whose mother recently abandoned the family. As Maddie struggles to keep her family together and maintain the appearance of normal teenage life, she finds herself drawn to the man the police say is the killer.

As they navigate their increasingly dangerous and tumultuous worlds, Bernard, Amy, and Maddie begin to uncover the connections between them, and the past and present, in a novel that ultimately proves the power of tragedy to spark renewal.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] tense, rich debut….Owens impressively captures the emotional landscape of three generations and the varying compromises required of women in each. Fans of crime fiction wanting literary flair and emotional depth will gladly follow this trio of complicated characters.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A literary thriller with everything book groups are looking for: fine writing, a flawlessly constructed story, and relatable characters providing plenty of questionable decisions rife for discussion.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Lauren Doyle Owens… is someone to watch. Her stunning literary murder mystery debut is at once a nail-biter and a brilliantly nuanced evocation of how communities work and don’t work….Ms. Owens builds a vibrantly realized world spreading across three generations. She traces the ebbs and flows of individual and collective destinies, her narrative charged by a lyricism that is constantly evocative and revealing. A large cast of well-drawn supporting characters reinforces the themes of connectedness and renewal. This is a remarkable debut by a distinctive talent of great promise.” – Florida Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


This is What Happened by  Mick Herron

this is what happenedWhat mostly interested him was the way there had been no consequence. Why was it that, with London stuffed so full of CCTV cameras, so much went on that nobody noticed?

Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in the huge city of London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice.

Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to infiltrate the establishment and thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.

Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero—if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.

Description from Goodreads.

“Profoundly disturbing . . . Fans who miss the startling and compelling psychological suspense of Ruth Rendell will relish this unsettling tale.” – Booklist, Starred Review 

“Herron has some fantastical twists in mind that Agatha Christie never dreamed of.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“Takes elements of the familiar spy story, with its secrets and switchback betrayals, and locks them inside a tightly-sealed box of psychological suspense.” – Reviewing the Evidence 

Available Formats:

Print Book


Anatomy of a Scandal by  Sarah Vaughan

anatomy of a scandalSophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

Description from Goodreads.

“The courtroom yields high drama, but Vaughan also dives deep into the characters’ backstories—especially the entitled lives of powerful men—creating a nuanced story line perfectly in tune with our #metoo times.” – People, BOOK OF THE WEEK

“Vaughan weaves together a juicy courtroom drama set among the British elite and told from the perspectives of three characters . . . Exceptional.” – Entertainment Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


If You Knew Her by  Emily Elgar

if you knew herThe perfect life?
Or the perfect lie . . .

When Cassie Jensen arrives on the intensive care ward in St Catherine’s hospital, Alice Marlowe the chief nurse, is fascinated by this young, beautiful woman who strikes her as familiar and yet she doesn’t know why. But then Alice is astonished to discover something about Cassie that she has been keeping secret from everyone, including her devoted husband and family; a secret that changes everything.

Frank is a patient on the same ward who has locked-in-syndrome, so can hear and see everything around him but cannot communicate. Soon he comes to understand that Cassie’s life is still in danger and as the police continue to investigate what really happened to Cassie, only Frank holds the truth, which no one can know and he cannot tell . . .

Description from Goodreads.

“Brilliant and twisted. . . . Emily Elgar brings these three characters together in an unlikely manner, creating a psychological thriller that is every bit as good as many of her peers in the thriller writing genre. Examining the lines where the perfect life and the perfect lie begins to blur, the final twist will leave you reeling— and anxiously awaiting Elgar’s next book.” – BookTrib

“Elgar’s gratifying, well-written tale of family predicaments will be a good match for women’s-fiction readers looking for something a bit darker.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book



ROMANCE



Sisters Like Us by  Susan Mallery

sisters like usThe grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgeling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Description from Goodreads.

“5 Stars! The characters will have you crying, laughing, and falling in love… Another brilliantly well-written story.” – San Francisco Book Review

“Fresh and engaging… There’s a generational subtext that mirrors reality and the complexities of adult relationships…filled with promise of a new serial that’s worth following.” – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Keep Her Safe by  K.A. Tucker

keep her safeNoah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that’s been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family’s life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.

Gracie Richards wasn’t born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it’s all she knows anymore. At least here people don’t care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive…until a man who clearly doesn’t belong shows up on her doorstep.

Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department’s dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.

Complex, gritty, sexy, and thrilling, Keep Her Safe solidifies K.A. Tucker’s reputation as one of today’s most talented new voices in romantic suspense.

Description from Goodreads.

“A heart-pounding romantic thriller…Tucker crafts a shrewd mystery that never falls flat, even as the steady, subtle romantic relationship heats up the page.” – Publishers Weekly

“A master of steamy romance, Tucker skillfully threads Noah and Gracie’s sexual tension throughout the investigation…No one is above suspicion in this taut, sizzling romantic mystery.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book



NONFICTION



Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old by  John Leland

happiness is a choice you makeAn extraordinary look at what it means to grow old and a heartening guide to well-being, Happiness Is a Choice You Make weaves together the stories and wisdom of six New Yorkers who number among the “oldest old”– those eighty-five and up.

In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America’s fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction. Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.

Happiness Is a Choice You Make is an enduring collection of lessons that emphasizes, above all, the extraordinary influence we wield over the quality of our lives. With humility, heart, and wit, Leland has crafted a sophisticated and necessary reflection on how to “live better”–informed by those who have mastered the art.

Description from Goodreads.

“Loaded with charm, wisdom, and decades worth of personal anecdotes, it explores the ‘paradox of old age’ and offers a startlingly simple solution: ‘If you want to be happy, learn to think like an old person.'” – Furthermore

“Engrossing . . . Few books about aging show such clarity and purpose or so deftly blend cleareyed examinations of social issues with a realistic but hopeful cast of mind. In this edifying and often quite moving book, Leland presents the “lessons” taught by his subjects even as they themselves are learning them, and he does so with an empathy and thoroughness that deserve our gratitude.” ―Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Leave a Reply