Best New Books: Week of 7/16/2019

We’re back with another roundup of the week’s best books, with everything from literary fiction to suspense to romance and more! This week sees the release of what is probably the year’s most anticipated novel, Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, which has been heavily featured in the New York Times, the Washington PostEntertainment WeeklyEsquireBuzzFeedVultureCosmopolitan, and many others. Of course, if that book’s subject matter is a little too dark for your tastes, Jasmine Guillory’s rom-com The Wedding Party might be more your speed, and has been featured in several publications as well.

We’re also adding a new feature to these posts. From now on, if you see a ★ after the author’s name of any listed book, that means that it has received an exceptionally large amount of interest from the book media world, and is therefore more likely to appear in many publications’ “Best of the Year” lists. Hopefully this will help to make it easier for you to find that special book that is just perfect for you, or at least to keep up with the cultural conversation! 


Turbulence by  David Szalay

TurbulenceA woman strikes up a conversation with the man sitting next to her on a plane after some turbulence. He returns home to tragic news that has also impacted another stranger, a shaken pilot on his way to another continent who seeks comfort from a journalist he meets that night. Her life shifts subtly as well, before she heads to the airport on an assignment that will shift more lives in turn.

In this wondrous, profoundly moving novel, Szalay’s diverse protagonists circumnavigate the planet in twelve flights, from London to Madrid, from Dakar to Sao Paulo, to Toronto, to Delhi, to Doha, en route to see lovers or estranged siblings, aging parents, baby grandchildren, or nobody at all. Along the way, they experience the full range of human emotions from loneliness to love and, knowingly or otherwise, change each other in one brief, electrifying interaction after the next.

Written with magic and economy and beautifully exploring the delicate, crisscrossed nature of relationships today, Turbulence is a dazzling portrait of the interconnectedness of the modern world.

Description from Goodreads.

“A (world) tour de force, an exploration in fiction of the concept of six degrees of separation… The chapters are tiny cross sections of lives, lovingly examined under the writer’s microscope. The result is a book that is high concept but—thanks to Szalay’s gift for compression and the same empathetic imagination that was on display in All That Man Is—never gimmicky. Szalay has devised an ingenious way to accommodate enormous range in a miniature form. Subtle, smart—a triumph.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Crisp and clever… Writing with a restraint that comes close to minimalism, Szalay boils down each moment to its most vital and crystalline essence.” – Vanity Fair

“Elegant… Impressive… Page by page, Szalay’s mixture of directness and withholding looks increasingly masterly.” – The Financial Times

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Nickel Boys by  Colson Whitehead ★

nickel boysAs the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion, “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked and the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. 

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at The Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative.

Description from Goodreads.

“Whitehead’s brilliant examination of America’s history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight.” – Publishers Weekly

“Whitehead follows his dynamic, highly awarded, best-selling Civil War saga, The Underground Railroad, with a tautly focused and gripping portrait of two African American teens during the last vicious years of Jim Crow… Whitehead’s magnetic characters exemplify stoicism and courage, and each supremely crafted scene smolders and flares with injustice and resistance, building to a staggering revelation.” – Booklist

“Haunting and haunted… devastating… The book feels like a mission, and it’s an essential one… he pulls off a brilliant sleight of hand that elevates the mere act of resurrecting Elwood’s buried story into at once a miracle and a tragedy.” – New York Times Book Review

“The acclaimed author of The Underground Railroad follows up with a leaner, meaner saga of Deep South captivity set in the mid-20th century and fraught with horrors more chilling for being based on true-life atrocities. There’s something a tad more melodramatic in this book’s conception (and resolution) than one expects from Whitehead, giving it a drugstore-paperback glossiness that enhances its blunt-edged impact.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


The New Girl by  Daniel Silva

new girlAt an exclusive private school in Switzerland, mystery surrounds the identity of the beautiful girl who arrives each morning and leaves each afternoon in a heavily protected motorcade fit for a head of state. She is said to be the daughter of a wealthy international businessman. She is not. And when she is brutally kidnapped across the border in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Gabriel Allon, the legendary chief of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a deadly secret war with an old enemy that will determine the future of the Middle East—and perhaps the world…

Description from Goodreads.

“Fascinating… An irresistible thriller, built on the realpolitik of today’s Middle East but deepened by the universality of human tragedy.” – Booklist

“First-rate… For the person who likes a great story of espionage and intrigue, Daniel Silva’s art restorer and master spy, Gabriel Allon, is a great match for Ian Fleming’s 007.” – The Daily News

“One year after producing what might be the best spy novel since John le Carre’s The Spy who Came in from the Cold, Daniel Silva is back with another riveting, twisting tale of espionage that further cements his legacy as one of the greatest novelists the genre has ever known… It’s hard to fathom that Silva could ever top himself after last year’s The Other Woman, but he’s done just that.” – The Real Book Spy

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook

Tell Me Everything by  Cambria Brockman

tell me everythingIn her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, and wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin and a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wise-cracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t quite like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubling past. She acts as if she is concerned with the preoccupations of those around her – boys, partying – all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets – and those of her friends – are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as their fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances start shifting, Malin will test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.

Description from Goodreads.

“By telling parts of the story out of sequence, Brockman successfully builds each character in fragments, preventing us from seeing the full context until close to the end. The college-centered plot is reminiscent of many novels that have come before about quirky kids forming a family of sorts only to destroy each other—Tana French’s The Likeness, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History—but the development of Malin as a narrator is truly inspired. While French and Tartt use the outsider-as-narrator to further emphasize the group’s isolation and the narrator’s failure to find true acceptance, Brockman’s Malin draws riveting attention to humankind’s vulnerability to evil. She is a shadowy figure; an unreliable narrator we get to know through subtle hints and slanted comments in addition to flashbacks. A truly chilling thriller with a twist so quiet, you never hear it coming.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“An edgy exploration of loyalty and human desire. Readers in search of a true page-turner will savor this electrifying novel.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“Tension builds in a narrative that switches back and forth between Senior Day and freshman year, punctuated by flashbacks to events in Malin’s childhood, and the tension is amplified by the focus on an insular group in an isolated setting… Brockman’s first novel will appeal to readers looking for another Gone Girl.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book

The Other Mrs. Miller by  Allison Dickson

other mrs millerOnce a darling of Chicago’s social scene, Phoebe Miller fears she’s become irrelevant and cliché: just another miserably unfulfilled housewife who drowns her sorrows in Chardonnay and ice cream and barely leaves her house. Maybe it’s her dark thoughts and fertile imagination that lead her to believe the worst about everything she spies going on in the exclusive suburban cul de sac she calls home. But surely that rusty blue sedan that keeps idling by her driveway is a sign that she’s being watched. And that new family that just moved in across the street–Dr. Ron Napier, his vivacious wife, Vicki, and their handsome college-bound son, Jake–can’t be as perfect as they appear. Especially not with the bruises on Vicki’s arms and the fear in Jake’s eyes.

When a chance introduction to the exuberant Vicki–and a forbidden encounter with Jake–draws her out of her shell and deeper into the Napiers’ orbit, Phoebe’s life finally gets the infusion of excitement she’s been missing. But when anonymous threatening notes begin landing on her doorstep, she’ll have to ask herself just how well anyone can truly know their neighbors… and how close to home unforeseen danger sometimes lies.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of Paula Hawkins will be thrilled by Allison Dickson’s The Other Mrs. Miller… With an impossible-to-predict plot and a very unexpected murder, Dickson’s book is required reading for suspense addicts.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“Cleverly plotted… Dickson sets the stage for a stunning mid-novel plot twist… [T]his is a diverting poolside entertainment.” – Publishers Weekly

“A whopper of a novel… a clever and sinister read that’s never less than engrossing.” – CrimeReads

Available Formats:

Print Book | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


Shamed by  Linda Castillo

shamedAn Amish grandmother is murdered on an abandoned farm, her seven year old granddaughter abducted. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder plunges headlong into a case that quickly becomes a race against the clock. She knows the longer the girl is missing, the more likely a tragic outcome. The family of the missing girl is well thought of—a pillar of the Amish community. Their pain is palpable and they cooperate in every way, but Kate soon learns they’re keeping secrets…

The investigation takes Kate to an isolated Old Order Amish settlement along the river in southern Ohio. At first, the community seems upstanding and helpful. But when Kate starts asking questions, they stonewall her—and the situation soon becomes dangerous. What are they hiding and why?

After an attempt on her life, Kate unearths a haunting and tragic secret that changes everything she thought she knew about the family for whom she is fighting, the Amish community as a whole—and everything she thought she knew about herself. Will she reach the girl in time to save her life?

Description from Goodreads.

“Electrifying… more than one twist propels the plot to its dramatic conclusion… a morally complex tale.” – Publishers Weekly

“The tension mounts… a gripping conclusion… Castillo’s latest, following A Gathering of Secrets, is another violent, fascinating story.” – Library Journal

“Castillo captures Kate’s empathic understanding of Amish culture and Deitsch, and adds atmosphere with falling-down, peeling-paint, rural settings. If they haven’t already, readers looking for a fierce-female-fronted procedural should check out Castillo’s best-selling series, from the get-go.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book

Bark of Night by  David Rosenfelt

bark of nightWhen defense lawyer Andy Carpenter’s veterinarian asks to speak to him privately at the checkup of his golden retriever, Tara, the last thing Andy expects is Truman. Tiny, healthy, French bulldog Truman was dropped off days ago with instructions to be euthanized by a man everyone thought was his owner. But now the owner is nowhere to be found.

Andy is furious. Who would want to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog with no explanation? He is willing to whisk Truman away to the Tara Foundation, the dog-rescue organization which is Andy’s true passion. They will find a home for Truman. But that’s not all the vet tells Andy. Thanks to Truman’s chip, it’s discovered that the man wasn’t Truman’s owner at all… Truman’s real owner has been murdered.

It’s now up to Andy – with help from his loyal sidekick Tara, Truman and the rest of the gang – to solve this case. In the latest in the popular Andy Carpenter mystery series, David Rosenfelt’s charmingly clever wit and love of dogs are back and better than ever.

Description from Goodreads.

“One of the best hooks ever by an author who specializes in them… Even dog haters should lap it up.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Rosenfelt does a great job of unfolding an intricate plot… Andy is a smart, witty, relatable lead with a lot of heart, and he and his cohorts are a pleasure to spend time with. This is a treat for mystery readers and dog lovers.” – Publishers Weekly

“I love the Andy Carpenter Mystery novels. They’re so easy to read… They have really fun characters. And they have dogs. All this makes these books so much fun to read each time… If you’ve never read one of these Andy Carpenter books jump right in. Each novel reads like a stand-alone book and you get enough back information to understand who is who and what’s going on.” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Wedding Party by  Jasmine Guillory ★

wedding partyMaddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an ‘oops, we made a mistake’ night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking.

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love…

Description from Goodreads.

“Fun and playful–perfect for the beach.” – Coastal Living

“If you want a juicy, modern twist on the classic enemies-to-lovers romance, Guillory has you covered with The Wedding Party.” – Real Simple

“It’s the perfect summer book.” – Bustle

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Window on the Bay by  Debbie Macomber

window on the bayJenna Boltz’s life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can’t help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited for Jenna’s newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life’s other great adventure—dating—Jenna still isn’t sure she’s ready to let love in… until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna’s elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she’s more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna’s children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected—before the life she has always dreamed of passes her by.

Description from Goodreads.

“This heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Macomber’s work is as comforting as ever.” – Booklist

“You find yourself rooting for each of the characters as the story goes on. [A] great summer novel.” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


This Is How You Lose the Time War by  Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

this is how you lose the time warAmong the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

Description from Goodreads.

“What unfolds is a twisting, sapphic time travel fantasy love story that never stops surprising: El-Mohtar and Gladstone have written the ultimate in enemies-to-lovers romance, but with an intricate layer of lush, uncanny descriptions of the fantastic strands the agents are shifting; not to mention a careful net of time travel and parallel universes. This suspenseful novel is a superb realization of a difficult concept bulging with details: a time travel rival-secret-agent epistolary romance interspersed with descriptions of fascinating secret missions. Readers will reach the end and want to turn back to the start.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This stunning, semi-epistolary tale by coauthors El-Mohtar… and Gladstone… is a seamless story of time travel, sparring opponents, and the revelations of serving a cause. To unlock the complexities of language and plot here, readers will want to return to this book, with each read revealing a little more of its near-limitless substance.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[An]… exquisitely crafted tale… Part epistolary romance, part mind-blowing science fiction adventure, this dazzling story unfolds bit by bit, revealing layers of meaning as it plays with cause and effect, wildly imaginative technologies, and increasingly intricate wordplay. El-Mohtar… and Gladstone… pack their narrative full of fanciful ideas and poignant moments, weaving a tapestry stretching across the millennia and through multiple realities that’s anchored with raw emotion and a genuine sense of wonder. This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


They Called Us Enemy by  George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

they called us enemyGeorge Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

Description from Goodreads.

“Moving and layered… Giving a personal view into difficult history, [They Called Us Enemy] is a testament to hope and tenacity in the face of adversity.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Riveting… Takei has evolved into an increasingly powerful voice for oppressed communities, and Enemy finds him at peak moral clarity — an unflinching force in these divisive times.” – Washington Post

“This evocative memoir shares stories of the nation’s past, draws heartbreaking parallels to the present, and serves as a cautionary tale for the future.” – School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book

Leave a Reply