Best New Books: Week of 11/19/2019

“Words: with them you can do and undo as you please.” – Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name



FICTION



Twenty-One Truths About Love by  Matthew Dicks

twenty-one truths about love1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill… more than anything.
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

Description from Goodreads.

“An unconventional, endearing tale of impending fatherhood.” – Washington Post

“Often moving, sometimes shocking, always entertaining, this superbly crafted work emphasizes the incalculable variety of the novel form.” – Booklist

“These lists―and the silences they outline―conjure a tense world. Dan’s lists reflect his increasing desperation, ratcheting up the tension until life throws a potentially devastating curveball at him that pushes him to reassess everything he had thought to be true. A clever, genre-bending portrait of a man under pressure.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Confession Club by  Elizabeth Berg

confession clubWhen a group of friends in Mason, Missouri, decide to start a monthly supper club, they get more than they bargained for. The plan for congenial evenings—talking, laughing, and sharing recipes, homemade food, and wine—abruptly changes course one night when one of the women reveals something startlingly intimate. The supper club then becomes Confession Club, and the women gather weekly to share not only dinners, but embarrassing misdeeds, deep insecurities, and long-held regrets.

They invite Iris Winters and Maddy Harris to join, and their timing couldn’t be better. Iris is conflicted about her feelings for a charming but troubled man, and Maddy has come back home from New York to escape a problem too big to handle alone. The club offers exactly the kind of support they need to help them make some difficult decisions.

The Confession Club 
is charming, heartwarming, and inspiring. And as in the previous books that take place in Mason, readers will find friendship, community, and kindness on full display.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] feel-good testament to taking risks, falling in love, and reinvention… Readers new to Berg’s Mason will be dazzled by this bright and fascinating story, and fans will be cheering for the next volume set there.” – Publishers Weekly

“You needn’t have read the previous Mason installments to savor The Confession Club, although your appreciation of the warm world Berg has created will deepen. Her language is gentle, her stories complex: simple outside and rich inside, like a pound cake from Iris’ kitchen.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Berg is a natural storyteller, and here she creates a genuine group of women, old friends and new, for readers to cozy up to. Even minor characters come to life with sincerity and charm. The Confession Club shows that family doesn’t have to be defined in the traditional sense, home isn’t always where we expect it to be, and the love of friends is all we really need.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



SUSPENSE



A Minute to Midnight by  David Baldacci

minute to midnightFBI Agent Atlee Pine’s life was never the same after her twin sister Mercy was kidnapped–and likely killed–thirty years ago. After a lifetime of torturous uncertainty, Atlee’s unresolved anger finally gets the better of her on the job, and she finds she has to deal with the demons of her past if she wants to remain with the FBI.

Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum head back to Atlee’s rural hometown in Georgia to see what they can uncover about the traumatic night Mercy was taken and Pine was almost killed. But soon after Atlee begins her investigation, a local woman is found ritualistically murdered, her face covered with a wedding veil–and the first killing is quickly followed by a second bizarre murder.

Atlee is determined to continue her search for answers, but now she must also set her sights on finding a potential serial killer before another victim is claimed. But in a small town full of secrets–some of which could answer the questions that have plagued Atlee her entire life–digging deeper into the past could be more dangerous than she realizes…

Description from Goodreads.

“Few writers can hook readers faster and harder than David Baldacci, who continues to juggle multiple hit franchises. Readers can debate who his best lead character is at the moment, but one thing’s for sure, Atlee Pine is certainly in the discussion—and A Minute to Midnight is as good as anything he’s written over the last several years.” – The Real Book Spy

“…a spooky, horrifying tale…” – Associated Press

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook


Impossible Causes by  Julie Mayhew

impossible causesFor six months every year, Lark Island is fogged in, its occupants cut off completely from the mainland. The community is small, tight-knit, and deeply religious. Lark seems like a good place for 16-year-old Viola Kendrick and her mother to be alone as they mourn Viola’s father and brother, both killed in a tragic accident.

But the islanders are hiding dark secrets. As the winter fog sets in, Viola gets to know the Eldest Girls—the only three teenagers on Lark—and begins to learn about the island’s twisted history, including an old story of a young girl, whose death the islanders insist was accidental. When a man’s body is found at the end of Viola’s first winter on Lark, Viola finds herself at the center of a murder mystery: one that asks whether the man’s death was a righteous act of revenge, or a cold-blooded killing.

Eerie and menacing, timely and moving, Impossible Causes is an unputdownable thriller that examines the consequences of secrets kept at young women’s expense.

Description from Goodreads.

“When newcomers move to an isolated island, old secrets threaten long-established order in this engrossing psychological thriller with hints of magic… Engaging characters, well-crafted suspense, and a tone of growing, claustrophobic dread add up to an effective thriller.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Claustrophobic… well-written… the final scene is chilling.” – Literary Review

“Both poignant and thrilling.” – Crime Monthly

Available Formats:

Print Book



MYSTERY



Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes by  Ace Atkins

angel eyesGabby Leggett left her Boston family with dreams of making it big as a model/actress in Hollywood. Two years later, she disappears from her apartment. Her family, former boyfriend, friends–and the police–have no idea where she is and no leads. Leggett’s mother hires Spenser to find her, with the help of his former apprentice, Zebulon Sixkill, now an L.A. private eye.

Spenser barely has time to unpack before the trail leads to a powerful movie studio boss, the Armenian mob, and a shadowy empowerment group some say might be a dangerous cult.

It’s soon clear that Spenser and Sixkill may be outgunned this time, and series favorites Chollo and Bobby Horse ride to the rescue to provide backup. From the mansions of Beverly Hills to the lawless streets of a small California town, Spenser will need to watch his step. In Hollywood, all that glitters isn’t gold. And not all those who wander are lost.

Description from Goodreads.

“Another rock-solid addition to the Spenser case files.” – CrimeReads

“Atkins gets the hardest parts right—his hero/narrator now sounds indistinguishable from Robert B. Parker’s… Readers who’ve always wanted to see Spenser in Tinseltown can cross that off their bucket lists.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Atkins continues to do a fine job of extending the life of Robert B. Parker’s characters and capturing the tone of the Spenser series. Parker would be proud of Atkins’ wise-guy patter; the violence is exciting and nicely choreographed; and Atkins’ plots are complex enough to hold readers’ interest yet do not get in the way of the suspense.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print BookeBook



HISTORICAL FICTION



The Second Sleep by  Robert Harris

second sleep1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artifacts–coins, fragments of glass, human bones–which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes–about himself, his faith, and the history of his world–will be tested to destruction.

Description from Goodreads.

Thriller Award–winner Harris does a masterly job playing with readers’ expectations… Few readers will pick up on the fairly planted clues. This is a clever complement to Harris’s debut mystery, Fatherland.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Harris is rightly praised as the master of the intelligent thriller… He creates a world teetering between a second dark age and another industrial revolution, peopled by characters drawn with a Dickensian confidence. Genuinely thrilling, wonderfully conceived and entirely without preaching, it probes the nature of history, of collective memory and forgetting, and exposes the fragility of modern civilisation.” – The Telegraph

“A genre-bending thriller… An exploration of a world that is both unfamiliar and as old as time, and of the consequences of our flagrant disregard for the existential perils of our own era… [Harris] has contrived in The Second Sleep to do something rather brilliant and new. He has put us at the heart of the mystery. Whatever disaster has struck the world it has struck because of us, our greed and ambition, our arrogance. We are all responsible… The reader is left with at least as many questions as answers, and most of those questions are directed at ourselves.” – The Guardian

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook



NONFICTION



Incidental Inventions by  Elena Ferrante

Layout 1“This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.”

With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged interlocution; the subjects ranged from first love to climate change, from enmity among women to the adaptation of her novels to film and TV. As she said in her final column: “I have written as an author of novels, taking on matters that are important to me and that—if I have the will and the time—I’d like to develop within real narrative mechanisms.”

Here, then, are the seeds of possible future novels, the ruminations of an internationally beloved author, and the abiding preoccupations of a writer who has been called “one of the great novelists of our time” (the New York Times). Gathered together for the first time in a beautiful gift edition and accompanied by an entirely new introduction written by Elena Ferrante and Andrea Ucini’s intelligent, witty, and beautiful illustrations, this is a must for all Ferrante fans.

Description from Goodreads.

“As Ferrante mentions in her last article, her year writing these pieces was a year that scared and inspired her. But for those reading the articles, either at the time of publication, or in this stunning collection, it was a year of possibilities and wonder, of thoughts and fears, of opening yourself up to new possibilities. This a beautiful book, one you will cherish and reread, taking away different things each time you do.” – Better Reading

“In the second volume of the Neapolitan Novels, The Story of the New Name, Lila destroys her photograph as a bride by fragmenting her image into a modernist collage which foregrounds not her body or wedding dress, but her eye. We can describe Incidental Inventions as a catalogue of similar verbal and visual collages, facilitated by Andrea Ucini’s marvelously discerning pictures. Like Lila, Elena Ferrante conceals and reveals, framing the way we see her, inviting us to open the pages-curtains and look.” – Reading in Translation

“You’ve read Elena Ferrante by now, right? Or, at the very least, you promised somebody you’d pick up the Neapolitan Novels, but still haven’t. If you’re looking to at least get the wheels moving, this collection of her collected works of non-fiction for The Guardian could at least kickstart your foray into the brilliant mind of Ferrante.” – Inside Hook

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter by  Kerri K. Greenidge

black radicalWilliam Monroe Trotter (1872– 1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working- class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post- Reconstruction America.

For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Synthesizing years of archival research, historian Kerri Greenidge renders the drama of turn-of-the-century America and reclaims Trotter as a seminal figure, whose prophetic, yet ultimately tragic, life offers a link between the vision of Frederick Douglass and black radicalism in the modern era.

Description from Goodreads.

“Kerri K. Greenidge’s spirited biography [is] an ardent and mostly approving account of Trotter’s life that nevertheless conveys the more vexing elements of his personality… Black Radical opens up a rich seam of inquiry that persists to this day, about the tug-of-war between reformers and radicals, and whether victories that seem purely symbolic at first can ripple out into real-world effects later on.” – New York Times

“[Trotter’s] legacy presents a challenge to those who seek change today: is compromise a necessary evil of any social movement, or is it the original sin of collective action? Greenidge argues that [his] protests, dismissed by many people at the time as publicity-seeking stunts, are Trotter’s real legacy… One of the most satisfying accomplishments of Black Radical is the way that Greenidge situates Trotter’s biography in the broader story of liberal New England. Boston, Greenidge reminds her readers, incubated the politics of Malcolm X and of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., not to mention the writers Pauline Hopkins and Dorothy West.” – The New Yorker

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook


The Season: A Social History of the Debutante by  Kristen Richardson

seasonThe world of debutantes opens into a revealing story of women across six centuries, their limited options, and their desires.

Digging into the roots of the debutante ritual, with its ballrooms and white dresses, Kristen Richardson—herself descended from a line of debutantes—was fascinated to discover that the debutante ritual places our contemporary ideas about women and marriage in a new light. In this brilliant history of the phenomenon, Richardson shares debutantes’ own words—from diaries, letters, and interviews—throughout her vivid telling, beginning in Henry VIII’s era, sweeping through Queen Elizabeth I’s court, crossing back and forth the Atlantic to colonial Philadelphia, African American communities, Jane Austen’s England, and Mrs. Astor’s parties, ultimately arriving at the contemporary New York Infirmary and International balls.

Whether maligned for its archaic attitude and objectification of women or praised for raising money for charities and providing a necessary coming-of-age ritual, the debutante tradition has more to tell us in this entertaining and illuminating book.

Description from Goodreads.

The Season is a must for readers of social history, and all will appreciate Richardson’s fluid, descriptive prose.” – Booklist

“[An] entertaining, eye-opening portrait.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook

Leave a Reply