Best New Books: Week of 5/15/2018

The weather has finally truly warmed up here in Avalon, which means it’s time to start spending our days soaking up some sun down by the seashore. Of course that also means we need to find some good books to bring with us! Luckily, there are several great beach reads arriving at the library today. Eliza Kennedy, Sarah Winman, and Katherine Center all have titles that are the perfect blend of love, drama, and laughter for days in the sand; while those looking for something suspenseful have great new novels by Jessica Knoll, Michael Koryta, and Julia Heaberlin to look forward to. There’s also a revealing biography of Robin Williams, a fun cozy mystery, and for the more serious-minded beach-goers among us, a pair of histories. So swing by the library, pick up a great book, and spend some time by the ocean!


Do This For Me by  Eliza Kennedy

do this for meRaney Moore is a ruthlessly ambitious, successful lead attorney who is the envy of all in her firm. That is until all hell breaks loose. When Raney finds out that her beloved husband, Aaron, has slept with another woman, she wastes no time downshifting to hating the man, while unraveling in quite the spectacular fashion. But as time marches on, Raney realizes that she still loves Aaron and might want to find a way to repair the damage done, redefining in the process what she thinks of as a “happy marriage.”

A wonderfully fresh take on a marriage in trouble, Do This for Me is a bighearted, warm, and funny novel driven by Eliza Kennedy’s signature wit and humor.

Description from Goodreads.

“An uproarious, sometimes salacious, and always entertaining quick summer read.” – Library Journal

“A fast-paced, outrageously fun pleasure of a book. Bring it to the beach this Memorial Day.” – Refinery29

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Tin Man by  Sarah Winman

tin manThis is almost a love story.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] achingly beautiful novel about love and friendship…Without sentimentality or melodrama, Winman stirringly depicts how people either interfere with or allow themselves and others to follow their hearts.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Half love story and half identity quest, Sarah Winman’s Tin Man is 100 percent beautiful. It’s the perfect book to completely drag you out of your own personal reality and into someone else’s for a little while, and you’ll find yourself reading it again and again.” – PopSugar

Available Formats:

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How to Walk Away by  Katherine Center

how to walk awayMargaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Description from Goodreads.

“With its appealing characters and wisdom about grappling with life’s challenges, Center’s sixth novel has all the makings of a breakout hit.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A story about survival that is heartbreakingly honest and wryly funny, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Elizabeth Berg.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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The Favorite Sister by  Jessica Knoll

favorite sisterWhen five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called “Goal Diggers”, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is “Goal Diggers’” recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Description from Goodreads.

“Knoll explores the blurry line between a reality show and real life–and the duplicity of family ties and friendship—in this razor-sharp, darkly comic thriller…[a] briskly paced whodunit…Though the mystery is engrossing enough in its own right, Knoll’s novel is most notable as a potent takedown of a reality-show-obsessed culture that seeks out the spotlight rather than harder truths.“ – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“You’ll be seeing this pink umbrella on beaches everywhere this summer. The next thriller from the pen of Luckiest Girl Alive has a reality TV show as its setting, and a pair of sisters—who are definitely no Housewives—with a dark secret to get the action going.“ – Elle

“We don’t want to give too much away, but you won’t be able to put this one down—no matter how good the water looks.” – Good Housekeeping

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

How it Happened by  Michael Koryta

how it happenedKimberly Crepeaux is no good, a notorious jailhouse snitch, teen mother, and heroin addict whose petty crimes are well-known to the rural Maine community where she lives. So when she confesses to her role in the brutal murders of Jackie Pelletier and Ian Kelly, the daughter of a well-known local family and her sweetheart, the locals have little reason to believe her story.

Not Rob Barrett, the FBI investigator and interrogator specializing in telling a true confession from a falsehood. He’s been circling Kimberly and her conspirators for months, waiting for the right avenue to the truth, and has finally found it. He knows, as strongly as he’s known anything, that Kimberly’s story — a grisly, harrowing story of a hit and run fueled by dope and cheap beer that becomes a brutal stabbing in cold blood — is how it happened. But one thing remains elusive: where are Jackie and Ian’s bodies?

After Barrett stakes his name and reputation on the truth of Kimberly’s confession, only to have the bodies turn up 200 miles from where she said they’d be, shot in the back and covered in a different suspect’s DNA, the case is quickly closed and Barrett forcibly reassigned. But for Howard Pelletier, the tragedy of his daughter’s murder cannot be so tidily swept away. And for Barrett, whose career may already be over, the chance to help a grieving father may be the only one he has left.

Description from Goodreads.

“Ingenious.. Koryta’ s plotting is sure-footed, and the secrets he discloses, one by one, at the novel’s end are both surprising and plausible… How It Happened [is] a book the reader won’t soon forget.” – The Washington Post

“With this searing look at an investigator’s obsessive efforts to close a case that has awakened childhood demons, bestseller Koryta has produced his most powerful novel in years… Koryta, when he’s at the top of his game, has few peers in combining murder mysteries with psychological puzzles.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Is Koryta capable of telling a less-than-gripping tale? … flawless, unpredictable storytelling streaked with his usual dark undercurrents. Crime fiction doesn’t get any more enjoyable.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook

Paper Ghosts by  Julia Heaberlin

paper ghostsCarl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. Before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip. Only she’s not his daughter and, if she has her way, he’s not coming back…

Because Carl’s past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he’s killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel. Now they’re following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel. Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he’s guilty of nothing and she’s the liar. Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she’s taking a terrible risk. For if Carl really is a serial killer, she’s alone in the most dangerous place of all…

Description from Goodreads.

“A rich hybrid work that’s at once a zany, dialogue-propelled two-hander, a murder mystery, a road novel, a pair of psychological case studies and a meditation on photography. It would make a fine indie movie, although screen adaptation would entail sacrificing Heaberlin’s evocative prose.” – The Sunday Times

“The tension crackles on the page. . . . Heaberlin writes with passion and poetry about Texas, photography, and the comedy and tragedy of dementia. . . . It elevates the often tawdry genre of the serial killer novel to a work of art.” – The Sunday Express

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Charmed Bones by  Carolyn Haines

charmed bonesPrivate detective Sarah Booth Delaney doesn’t quite know what to expect when she’s urgently called to a school board meeting for Sunflower County, Mississippi. But she certainly wasn’t expecting this: three Wiccan sisters are in the midst of a showdown with the Board of Education. They want to open a Wiccan school in Zinnia, Mississippi, and the conservative town vows to do anything necessary to stop them from opening their school.

Sarah Booth and her partner in the detective agency, Tinkie Bellcase, are quickly enlisted to investigate the Wiccan sisters’ real reasons for coming to town. Sarah Booth learns the sisters have rented a manor house and land from a reclusive local artist, Trevor Musgrove. But the case takes on a far more serious tone when Trevor Musgrove is found dead, and all evidence seems to point directly at the witch sisters.

Description from Goodreads.

“Haines comes through in showcasing her heroine’s romance and friendship where it really matters.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Enchanting…Fans of humorous paranormal cozies will be rewarded.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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My Mother’s Son by  David Hirshberg

my mothers sonIn the spirit of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay comes My Mother’s Son, the meticulously-crafted debut novel from David Hirshberg.

The story is told by a radio raconteur revisiting his past in post-World War II Boston, the playground and battleground for two brothers whose lives are transformed by discoveries they never could have imagined. From the opening line of the book, “When you’re a kid, they don’t always tell you the truth,” the stage is set for this riveting coming-of-age story that plays out against the backdrop of the Korean War, the aftermath of the Holocaust, the polio epidemic, the relocation of a baseball team, and the shenanigans of politicians and businessmen. Hirshberg deftly weaves together events, characters, and clues and creates a rich tapestry of betrayal, persecution, death, loyalty, and unconditional love that resonates with today’s America.

Description from Goodreads.

“This colorful and complex portrait of a 1950s Jewish family is warm and nostalgic, yet grounded by deep history.” – Foreword Reviews

“In recalling the polio epidemic of the 1950s, the Korean War, Holocaust memories, the relocation of the Boston Braves to Milwaukee, and the election of John F. Kennedy, Hirshberg offers us a glimpse of the past through the eyes of a young boy moving into his teens. This amazing mosaic of fact and fiction will hold readers in its grip from the first to last page.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Robin by  Dave Itzkoff

robinFrom his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in “Mork & Mindy” and his Academy Award-winning performance in “Good Will Hunting”, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations – all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.

But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like “Dead Poets Society”; “Good Morning, Vietnam”; “The Fisher King”; “Aladdin”; and “Mrs. Doubtfire”, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters. And in “Good Will Hunting” he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.

Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression – topics he discussed openly while performing and during interviews – and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched so many lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“A must-read.” – Vogue

“Will make you weep in missing him just as much as you laugh in remembering him.” – Entertainment Weekly

“[Williams’] life was one of compulsive creativity and genuine kindness and perpetual insecurity and frequent infidelity and uniquely electric imagination. Dave Itzkoff’s biography ‘Robin’ gets its hands around as much of that life as possible. It’s an incisive, comprehensive, very fine book. . . and the author captures it with grace and evenhanded perception.” – Chicago Tribune

Available Formats:

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Rome: A History in Seven Sackings by  Matthew Kneale

romeRome, the Eternal City. It is a hugely popular tourist destination with a rich history, famed for such sites as the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s, and the Vatican. In no other city is history as present as it is in Rome. Today visitors can stand on bridges that Julius Caesar and Cicero crossed; walk around temples in the footsteps of emperors; visit churches from the earliest days of Christianity.

This is all the more remarkable considering what the city has endured over the centuries. It has been ravaged by fires, floods, earthquakes, and—most of all—by roving armies. These have invaded repeatedly, from ancient times to as recently as 1943. Many times Romans have shrugged off catastrophe and remade their city anew.

Matthew Kneale uses seven of these crisis moments to create a powerful and captivating account of Rome’s extraordinary history. He paints portraits of the city before each assault, describing what it looked like, felt like, smelled like and how Romans, both rich and poor, lived their everyday lives. He shows how the attacks transformed Rome—sometimes for the better. With drama and humor he brings to life the city of Augustus, of Michelangelo and Bernini, of Garibaldi and Mussolini, and of popes both saintly and very worldly. He shows how Rome became the chaotic and wondrous place it is today. Rome: A History in Seven Sackings offers a unique look at a truly remarkable city.

Description from Goodreads.

“Kneale’s account is a masterpiece of pacing and suspense.  Characters from the city’s history spring to  life in his hands.” – The Sunday Times

“A richly textured chronicle, teasing meaning out of intense turbulence.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire by  Bret Baier & Catherine Whitney

three days in moscowIn his acclaimed bestseller Three Days in January, Bret Baier illuminated the extraordinary leadership of President Dwight Eisenhower at the dawn of the Cold War. Now in his highly anticipated new history, Three Days in Moscow, Baier explores the dramatic endgame of America’s long struggle with the Soviet Union and President Ronald Reagan’s central role in shaping the world we live in today.

On May 31, 1988, Reagan stood on Russian soil and addressed a packed audience at Moscow State University, delivering a remarkable—yet now largely forgotten—speech that capped his first visit to the Soviet capital. This fourth in a series of summits between Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, was a dramatic coda to their tireless efforts to reduce the nuclear threat. More than that, Reagan viewed it as “a grand historical moment”: an opportunity to light a path for the Soviet people—toward freedom, human rights, and a future he told them they could embrace if they chose. It was the first time an American president had given an address about human rights on Russian soil. Reagan had once called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Now, saying that depiction was from “another time,” he beckoned the Soviets to join him in a new vision of the future. The importance of Reagan’s Moscow speech was largely overlooked at the time, but the new world he spoke of was fast approaching; the following year, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, leaving the United States the sole superpower on the world stage.

Today, the end of the Cold War is perhaps the defining historical moment of the past half century, and must be understood if we are to make sense of America’s current place in the world, amid the re-emergence of US-Russian tensions during Vladimir Putin’s tenure. Using Reagan’s three days in Moscow to tell the larger story of the president’s critical and often misunderstood role in orchestrating a successful, peaceful ending to the Cold War, Baier illuminates the character of one of our nation’s most venerated leaders—and reveals the unique qualities that allowed him to succeed in forming an alliance for peace with the Soviet Union, when his predecessors had fallen short.

Description from Goodreads.

“From someone who covered all of Ronald Reagan’s summits, Three Days in Moscow is a fascinating read. Bret Baier’s enthralling new history is a timely reminder at a point of resurgent US-Russian tensions of the historic role Ronald Reagan played in negotiating landmark nuclear agreements that helped end the Cold War.” – Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News

“[A] satisfying handling of what was arguably the highlight of Reagan’s time as president.” – San Antonio Express-News

Available Formats:

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