Best New Books: Week of 7/24/2018

There’s a chance of rain nearly every day here on the Jersey coast. Luckily, whether it’s a sunny beach day or a storm keeps you trapped inside, it’s always perfect weather to get into a great book! There are several excellent new titles arriving at the library this week, so take a look at what we think are the best, and then get reading!


America for Beginners by  Leah Franqui

america for beginnersPival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.

Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pavil’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week “working” vacation traveling across America be?

Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Prival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.

Description from Goodreads.

“A tender, funny, wrenching, beautifully executed tale of three lost souls who traverse the chasms of cultural, generational, and geographical divides to forge some bonds strong and true enough to withstand life’s gut punches.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

America for Beginners is absorbing and alive and will make you laugh, cry and think about what it means to belong.” – Amazon Book Review

“A heartfelt novel about forgiveness and acceptance.” – Real Simple

Available Formats:

Print Book

Every Time You Go Away by  Beth Harbison

every time you go awayWilla has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

Description from Goodreads.

“A heartwarming story about love transcending time and space…tempering tragedy with wry humor, heartfelt introspection, and an unexpected romance.” – Booklist

“She proves adept at plumbing the adolescent psyche: Jamie is an appealing, authentic character.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…a touching and emotional read in a beautiful beachy setting…” – Carrie’s Book Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Ghosted by  Rosie Walsh

ghostedSeven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

Description from Goodreads.

“Walsh has a good ear for dialogue, and the mystery behind Eddie’s disappearance is a particularly satisfying one.” – The New York Times Book Review

“Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart. . . a romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A perfectly paced domestic drama centered on two lovely, lonesome people, Ghosted is a brilliant debut novel that explores the power of fate. Writing like a British cousin of Liane Moriarty or Maria Semple, Walsh has a gift for blending complex characters, intricate backstories, and neck-snapping plot twists.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook


Believe Me by  JP Delaney

believe meA struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

Description from Goodreads.

“A compelling read . . . redefines the concept of an unreliable narrator . . . [a] rich, nuanced, highly literary take on the Gone Girl theme.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…the author produces a bobsled run’s worth of twists.” – Publishers Weekly

“…very twisty, but superbly constructed.” – The Bookbag

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

A Noise Downstairs by  Linwood Barclay

a noise downstairsCollege professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . . .

Description from Goodreads.

“[Barclay] does a masterful job of layering on the mysteries until we’re almost frantically turning the pages, impatient to find out what the hell is going on. A beautifully executed thriller.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Prepare to be blindsided by an ending you didn’t see coming. Barclay’s nerve-wracking tale will have readers scared to close their eyes at night.” – Library Journal

“[A] twisty psychological tale . . . a satisfying and clever novel. The large cast and the story’s many moving parts perfectly set the reader up for the final climactic twist.” – Mystery Scene

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Aunt Dimity and the King’s Ransom by  Nancy Atherton

aunt dimity and the king's ransomOn a dull and dreary October day, Lori Shepherd and her husband Bill set off for the historic town of Rye, in the southeast coast of England, for a quiet weekend together without the kids. Bill must first pay a visit to a reclusive client–but after Lori drops him off, the storm that’s been brewing intensifies so much she ends up stranded in an ancient, rambling inn called the King’s Ransom, in a tiny attic room up a creaky (and creepy) set of narrow stairs. When Lori begins hearing footsteps and strange noises in the night, Aunt Dimity reminds her rather tartly the inn is almost certainly haunted, but that not all ghosts have any interest in harming the living, don’t you know.

But the longer Lori is stuck at the inn, the stranger things seem. She learns that the inn’s name comes from a king’s ransom in smuggled goods that passed through the village in ages past, and that the inn’s winding hallways connect to a network of smuggler caves and tunnels. And then there’s the inn’s hulking, grizzled cook, a mute ex-con named Steve who seems to be everywhere at once. Are the noises she hears the spirits of smuggling’s past? Or should Lori be more concerned with the living inhabitants of the inn? Joining forces with her new friend Bishop Smallwood, Lori sets out to discover once and for all who–or what–is haunting the King’s Ransom.

Description from Goodreads.

“Coziest of cozies and a good bet for those who miss Dorothy Cannell’s Ellie Haskell mysteries.” – Booklist
“Heartwarming and filled with all kinds of interesting people.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Fans of sweet mysteries will be well satisfied.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook

Whistle in the Dark by  Emma Healey

whistle in the darkJen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

A wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters, Whistle in the Dark is a story of guilt, fear, hope, and love that explores what it means to lose and find ourselves and those we love.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] finely drawn mother/daughter pairing and sharp take on the nitty-gritty of contemporary familial relationships. . . The desperate love of a parent for a child they cannot know is wonderfully true to life, and despite the rather bleak set-up, there are a lot of very funny moments. . . both cathartic and satisfying.” – The Guardian

“Healey’s skill as a writer is laudable for the way she manipulates the English language so that words and the meanings attached to them suddenly become slippery. . . Furthermore, Healey shows how words hold an odd magic, sometimes a sinister power. . . Whistle in the Dark is not to be missed.” – Washington Independent Review of Books

“What starts with a thrillerish seteup—missing teen—takes us to a more familiar but equally disturbing place. Trying to understand what happened to her daughter, Jen learns that we may be our own greatest fear.” – Family Circle

Available Formats:

Print Book


Jell-O Girls: A Family History by  Allie Rowbottom

jell-o girlsA memoir that braids the evolution of one of America’s most iconic branding campaigns with the stirring tales of the women who lived behind its façade – told by the inheritor of their stories.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege – but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.

More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie’s mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother’s life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the “Jell-O curse” and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family’s past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. Jell-O Girls is the liberation of that story.

A gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and a moving portrait of the women who lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, Jell-O Girls is a family history, a feminist history, and a story of motherhood, love and loss. In crystalline prose Rowbottom considers the roots of trauma not only in her own family, but in the American psyche as well, ultimately weaving a story that is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience.

Description from Goodreads.

“A fascinating feminist exploration… a strange, sensitive account of trauma, motherhood, and America.” – Real Simple

“Watch it glimmer, see it shimmer, cool and fruity, Jell-O…. If you’re an American of a certain age, that jingle will come to mind unbidden as you open Allie Rowbottom’s devastating memoir…. Her book doubles as a social history of the influential brand and its patriarchal messaging…. The mother-daughter portrait that emerges here melts the heart.” – O, the Oprah Magazine

“Intimate and intriguing…. A fascinating feminist history of both a company and a family.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book

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