Best New Books: Week of 8/21/2018

With sci-fi, mystery, suspense, action, literary insight, and even a children’s book about a dog in King Arthur’s Camelot, there is truly something for everyone arriving at the library this week. Check out the list below and maybe you’ll find your next favorite book!


Ohio by  Stephen Markley

OhioSince the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country’s forgotten pockets, where industry long ago fled, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed, fueled by suicide, addiction and a rampant sense of marginalization and disillusionment. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley’s brilliant debut novel, Ohio, inherit. This is New Canaan.

On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission, all of them haunted by regrets, secrets, lost loves. There’s Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park to New Orleans, and now back to “The Cane” with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting the mother of her former lover; Dan Eaton, a shy veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a dinner date with the high school sweetheart he’s tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel’s shocking climax.

At once a murder mystery and a social critique, Ohio ingeniously captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation through the viewfinder of an embattled Midwestern town and offers a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age.

Description from Goodreads.

“[Ohio is] a descendent of the Dickensian ‘social novel’ by way of Jonathan Franzen: epic fiction that lays bare contemporary culture classes, showing us who we are and how we got here…Markley’s prose [is] as lively as a bonfire, crackling with incisive details…Markley’s gift is keeping one eye on these intimate specifics and the other on the expansive landscape of modern American life.” – O Magazine

In his bold debut novel, Ohio, Stephen Markley visits the fictional northeastern Ohio town of New Canaan to paint in vivid colors the shattered dreams and stunted lives of young adults removed by roughly a decade from their high school graduation. It’s an intensely realistic and keenly observed portrait that puts a human face on subjects often obscured by statistics and expert opinion… a dark and deeply felt examination of a generation confronting problems that can’t be solved quickly or with ease…it has earned a place in any conversation about the important role fiction can play in reflecting life back to us when we look squarely in the mirror.” – Shelf Awareness

“[Ohio is] so rich in complex storytelling and literary excellence that it’s difficult to believe it’s a fiction debut.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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The Devoted by  Blair Hurley

devoted“She comes early, wet with rain, and confronts him in the back hall of the Zendo. ‘I need to know some things,’ she says. ‘You better come in,’ he says, and holds open the door…”

Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking spiritual solace in the tenets of Buddhism. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring as a shop clerk, Nicole has become sexually and emotionally entangled with her mentor. To break free, she must retrace her entire life’s journey—from her strict Irish Catholic upbringing to her drug-fueled year as a teenage runaway. Even as she reinvents herself in New York City, her master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, whispering dangerously in her ear. Somehow, he knows everything.

A hypnotic and daring debut, The Devoted asks what it takes, and what you’ll sacrifice, to find enlightenment.

Description from Goodreads.

“[Hurley’s] hand is confident and steady as she layers Zen teachings into the already complicated history of her novel’s focal character… Hurley leaves you thinking and sorting through feelings long after her final page.” – The Rumpus

“Quietly chilling… This thoughtful novel carefully untangles the often knotty interconnection between romantic and religious love, revealing the dangers inherent in each without denying their value.” – Publishers Weekly

“A belated coming-of-age novel with a quest at its core, The Devoted is an assured and promising debut.” – Vogue

Available Formats:

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Vox by  Christina Dalcher

voxSet in an America where half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end. 

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

Description from Goodreads.

“The females in Dalcher’s electrifying debut are permitted to speak just 100 words a day—and that’s especially difficult for the novel’s protagonist, Jean, a neurolinguist. A futurist thriller that feels uncomfortably plausible.” – O Magazine

Vox is a real page-turner that will appeal to people with big imaginations.” – Refinery29

“Fittingly, this book about women being silenced has got everybody talking and calling it The Handmaid’s Tale for 2018.” – Bustle 

Available Formats:

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Desolation Mountain by  William Kent Krueger

desolation mountainThere are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

To Stephen O’Connor, Hamlet’s dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen. The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen’s worst fears.

Stephen joins his father, Cork O’Connor and a few Ojibwe men from the nearby Iron Lake reservation to sift through the smoldering wreckage when the FBI arrives and quickly assumes control of the situation. What seems like the end of the O’Connors’ involvement is, however, only the beginning of a harrowing journey to understand the truth behind the Senator’s death. As he initiates his own probe, Cork O’Connor stumbles upon a familiar face in Bo Thorson, a private security consultant whose unnamed clients have hired him to look quietly into the cause of the crash. The men agree to join forces in their investigation, but soon Cork begins to wonder if Thorson’s loyalties lie elsewhere.

In that far north Minnesota County, which is overrun with agents of the FBI, NTSB, DoD, and even members of a rightwing militia, all of whom have their own agendas, Cork, Stephen, and Bo attempt to navigate a perilous course. Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, the three men finally understand that to get to the truth, they will have to face the great menace, a beast of true evil lurking in the woods—a beast with a murderous intent of unimaginable scale.

Description from Goodreads.

“Krueger skillfully combines the otherworldly setting of the Minnesota wilds with Native American lore to create a winning mystery with more than a few surprises.” – Publishers Weekly

“Krueger is adept at fusing shocks with setting…Great atmosphere, both physical and cultural.” – Booklist

“William Kent Krueger brings the vast Minnesota landscape to life the way C.J. Box does with Wyoming, allowing the setting itself to become a character in the story. Just when you think you know what’s going on, Krueger darts in another direction, pulling readers helplessly along the twisting ride through the haunting wild.” – The Real Book Spy

Available Formats:

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Bone on Bone by  Julia Keller

bone on boneFour years have passed since the end of Pulitzer Prize winning Julia Keller’s Fast Falls the Night and much has changed in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia. Former deputy Jake Oakes is adjusting to life as a paraplegic after being shot by a drug dealer and Bell’s sister, Shirley, died a year ago from lung cancer.
But one thing hasn’t changed: the crime and desperation afflicting this small Appalachian community. No one knows this more than Brent and Linda Topping, whose calm and steady world has been upended by the drug addiction of their 19-year-old son, Jeff.

First Brent is murdered by his son’s suppliers. And then, wracked with guilt over his father’s death, Jeff calls his mother on the brink of suicide. She rushes to his aid only to be shot in the head in what Jeff describes as a mixup. But Bell and the local authorities aren’t so sure he’s innocent.

As Sheriff Pam Harrison and Prosecutor Rhonda Lovejoy unravel the mystery, they are joined by an unlikely pair of allies: Jake Oakes, who has begrudgingly channeled his anger at his physical limitations into a clerical job at the courthouse; and Bell Elkins. Will this unlikely group be able to find the truth before this epidemic finds another victim?

Description from Goodreads.

“This thoughtful, painfully empathetic story will long linger in the reader’s memory.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Keller can spin a mystery plot with the best of them, but it’s her full-bodied characters and the regard they have for one another that really sets her crime fiction apart: a bride’s back-of-the-hand caress of her new husband’s cheek, and his response, is a moment that will linger in memory long after the crime is solved.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This haunting, thought-provoking story proves Keller is one of a kind.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Other Woman by  Sandie Jones

other womanEmily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.

Description from Goodreads.

“Pammie is every young woman’s worst nightmare: a mean mother-in-law (on steroids) in this addictive debut thriller. Readers’ pulses will race as they anticipate how she might strike next and be completely knocked off balance by the shocking ending.” – Library Journal, STARRED & BOXED REVIEW

“Jones ratchets up the tension to the breaking point and throws in a curveball that will make readers’ heads spin. Wildly entertaining, with a smashing twist.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Sandie Jones is the real deal. The Other Woman is a stunning psychological thriller on par with Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once, and a serious contender for best twist of the year.” – The Real Book Spy

Available Formats:

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The Iceman by  Peter T. Deutermann

icemanIn 1942, off the port city of St. Nazaire in occupied France, a United States Navy S-class submarine assigned to the Royal Navy lurks just outside the borders of the minefield protecting a German U-boat base. Lieutenant Commander Malachi Stormes, the boat’s skipper, patrols dangerously close to the minefield entrance and manages to trap and sink three outbound U-boats in one spectacular attack. Britain decorates him, the U.S. Navy promotes him and then gives him command of a brand new class of submarine, a fleet boat called Firefish. Based in Perth, Australia, having been driven out of the Philippines by the Japanese juggernaut, the Perth boats are the only American forces capable of hitting the Japanese in the western Pacific.

Stormes, with his cold, steely-eyed focus on killing Japanese ships, is an enigma to his officers and crew, especially when it becomes clear that he is willing to take huge chances to achieve results. Firefish sinks more ships than any Perth boat on her first war patrol, but Stormes’ unconventional tactics literally frighten his crew. Driven by a past steeped in the whiskey-haunted violence of the Kentucky coal fields, whose psychological scars torment his sleep and close him off from personal relationships, Stormes is nicknamed The Iceman. His crew is proud of their boat’s accomplishments, but wonder if their iron-willed skipper will bring them home alive.

With intense action and featuring authentic submarine tactics in the early years of the Pacific war, The Iceman continues P. T. Deutermann’s masterful, award-winning cycle of thrillers set during World War II.

Description from Goodreads.

“Deutermann packs authentic information on submarine tactics and naval warfare in between the taut underwater action. Fans of old-school submarine novels like Run Silent, Run Deep will be rewarded.” – Publishers Weekly

“Fast-paced, well-written, and full of been-there-done-that authenticity, P.T. Deutermann’s The Iceman should find its way onto plenty of reading lists this fall.” – The Real Book Spy

“The narration is brisk and stripped for action, which comes fast and furious. Deutermann throws in enough technical detail to satisfy any Tom Clancy enthusiast.” – StarNews

Available Formats:

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The Air You Breathe by  Frances de Pontes Peebles

air you breatheSkinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.

One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes–and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil’s inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship–its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses–and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“Samba music and its allure beats beneath this winding and sinuous tale of ambition, memory, and identity…Peebles’ detailed and atmospheric story is cinematic in scope, panoramic in view, and lyrical in tone.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A soaring fusion of emotion, intense drama, and the compelling rhythms of Brazilian music, The Air You Breathe belongs to the special category of historical novels that chronicle entire lives – and it does so in enthralling fashion…Dores narrates in a voice as lyrical and achingly passionate as the sambas she writes…The novel is an intoxicating performance itself, not to be missed by anyone wanting to be wrapped up in a well-told story.” – Historical Novel Society

“Although this novel is set during the 1930s in Brazil, the tale between two friends remains timeless…Each page is as intoxicating as the characters themselves; the perfect read for a long weekend or day off.” – Fashion Week Online

Available Formats:

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Foundryside by  Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside RD4 clean flatSancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Description from Goodreads.

“A stunning fantasy [from] the endlessly inventive Bennett…a crackling, wonderfully weird blend of science fiction, fantasy, heist adventure, and a pointed commentary on what it means to be human in a culture obsessed with technology, money, and power.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Mona Lisa meets The Matrix…A grand entertainment [that] inaugurates another series of imaginative, thoroughly idiosyncratic fantasy novels.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…a compelling and highly enjoyable epic fantasy novel that will captivate speculative fiction readers [with] its freshness, engaging characterisation and sophisticated complexity. This novel is one of the best fantasy novels of the year.” – Rising Shadow

Available Formats:

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The Stars Now Unclaimed by  Drew Williams

stars now unclaimedJane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.

Hot on her trail is the Pax–a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

And that’s just the beginning . . .

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] dazzling debut . . . not to be missed.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…an enjoyable ride full of dry humor and thrilling action scenes.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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Arthur Ashe: A Life by  Raymond Arsenault

arthur asheThe first comprehensive, authoritative biography of American icon Arthur Ashe—the Jackie Robinson of men’s tennis—a pioneering athlete who, after breaking the color barrier, went on to become an influential civil rights activist and public intellectual.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1943, by the age of eleven, Arthur Ashe was one of the state’s most talented black tennis players. Jim Crow restrictions barred Ashe from competing with whites. Still, in 1960 he won the National Junior Indoor singles title, which led to a tennis scholarship at UCLA. He became the first African American to play for the US Davis Cup team in 1963, and two years later he won the NCAA singles championship. In 1968, he won both the US Amateur title and the first US Open title, rising to a number one national ranking. Turning professional in 1969, he soon became one of the world’s most successful tennis stars, winning the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975. After retiring in 1980, he served four years as the US Davis Cup captain and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.

In this revelatory biography, Raymond Arsenault chronicles Ashe’s rise to stardom on the court. But much of the book explores his off-court career as a human rights activist, philanthropist, broadcaster, writer, businessman, and celebrity. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ashe gained renown as an advocate for sportsmanship, education, racial equality, and the elimination of apartheid in South Africa. But from 1979 on, he was forced to deal with a serious heart condition that led to multiple surgeries and blood transfusions, one of which left him HIV-positive. In 1988, after completing a three-volume history of African-American athletes, he was diagnosed with AIDS, a condition he revealed only four years later. After devoting the last ten months of his life to AIDS activism, he died in February 1993 at the age of forty-nine, leaving an inspiring legacy of dignity, integrity, and active citizenship.

Based on prodigious research, including more than one hundred interviews, Raymond Arsenault’s insightful and compelling biography puts Ashe in the context of both his time and the long struggle of African-American athletes seeking equal opportunity and respect.

Description from Goodreads.

“Masterful. . . . Arsenault’s effort to document Ashe’s full life in one volume is commendable and will serve as the standard work on Ashe for some time.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“This lovingly researched biography of Arthur Ashe is of such high quality that it deserves a place on the shelf alongside the highly-regarded works of Ashe himself.” – Peter Bodo, ESPN Tennis

“Inspiring. . . . Arsenault’s narrative is well-researched and exciting in a few on-court showdowns and political confrontations. . . . Readers will find [Ashe’s] saga admirable.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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Cavall in Camelot: A Dog in King Arthur’s Court by  Audrey Mackaman

dog in king arthurs courtMeet Cavall the dog in this classic middle grade adventure set in Camelot, told from the point of view of King Arthur’s dog!

When Cavall and his brother Glessic leave the comfort of their simple barn to join the lavish court of Camelot, Cavall wants nothing more than to prove he’s a good dog to the great knights and dogs of the castle—especially to King Arthur. But Gless says only the best dogs are worthy of greatness, and Cavall has never been as strong, brave, or fast as his brother.

Meanwhile, malevolent forces lurk in Camelot, and Cavall must figure out how to protect his person. To make matters worse, Arthur’s mysterious nightmares are getting worse, threatening to shake his grip on reality and undermine his authority as king. To fight back against the dangers of the dream world, Cavall will need help from some loyal hounds and the enchanting, sometimes frightening creatures that call themselves the fay. He will have to prove that not only can he be a good dog for his person but that he is capable of a greatness all his own.

Description from Goodreads.

“Debut author Mackaman seamlessly weaves myths of Camelot together with universal lessons, including the best way to defend those one cares about and the merits of cooperation…. This warm and action-packed series kickoff will leave readers eager to see what adventures Cavall stumbles into next.” – Publishers Weekly

“Dog lovers and fans of medieval adventure will devour this tale (or tail) of King Arthur’s court.” – School Library Journal

Available Formats:

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