“Moments never stay, whether or not you ask them, they do not care, no moment cares, and the ones you wish could stretch out like a hammock for you to lie in, well, those moments leave the quickest and take everything good with them, little burglars, those moments, those hours, those days you loved the most.” – Catherine Lacey, Nobody Is Ever Missing
Pew by Catherine Lacey ★
In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.
As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.
Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, is a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance. With precision and restraint, one of our most beloved and boundary-pushing writers holds up a mirror to her characters’ true selves, revealing something about forgiveness, perception, and the faulty tools society uses to categorize human complexity.
Description from Goodreads.
“[A] haunting fable about morality and self-delusion… Lacey―spare and elegant as ever―creates a story that feels at the same time mythological and arrestingly like life. Darkly playful; a warning without a moral.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“[A] puzzle of a novel… Lacey has always been an economical writer, and she is as taut as she’s ever been here… monologues make sections of the book read like Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy blended with the creeping unease of Ari Aster’s horror film Midsommar… it is within [Pew‘s] messier reaches, and its concerns with inequality and prejudice, that its boldest and most brilliant effects are found.” – The Guardian
“An ambitious, powerful fable of identity and belief… Lacey’s talent shines in this masterful work, her best yet.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Lacey’s quietly provocative novel is brilliantly composed. She shines a light on the complexity of humans and the dangers of judging and categorizing others based on appearance, as Pew’s ambiguity reveals the true nature of her characters.” – Booklist
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue ★
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.
In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.
Description from Goodreads.
“Donoghue offers vivid characters and a gripping portrait of a world beset by a pandemic and political uncertainty. A fascinating read in these difficult times.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Soul stirring.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Darkly compelling, illuminated by the light of compassion and tenderness: Donoghue’s best novel since Room.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“…her blunt prose and detailed, painstakingly researched medical descriptions do full justice to the reality of the pandemic and the poverty that helps fuel it. Donoghue’s evocation of the 1918 flu, and the valor it demands of health-care workers, will stay with readers.” – Publishers Weekly
He Started It by Samantha Downing ★
Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.
But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.
It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.
But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.
Description from Goodreads.
“Buckle up and settle in for one diabolically fun road trip.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A twisted mashup of a family drama and a thriller that you won’t be able to put down.” – PopSugar
“None of the characters are likeable, relatable or reliable, but that is what makes this read so much fun… The short chapters and pace of the story will keep readers turning the pages as they wonder how this family trip from hell will conclude.” – San Francisco Book Review
“With our need to know ramped up through a series of teasers offering more to come, this tale is virtually impossible to put down.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Skin Deep by Sung J. Woo
Korean-American adoptee Siobhan O’Brien has spent much of her life explaining her name and her family to strangers, but a more pressing problem is whether to carry on the PI agency that her dead boss unexpectedly left to her. Easing into middle age, Siobhan would generally rather have a glazed donut than a romance, but when an old friend asks Siobhan to find her daughter who has disappeared from her dorm, the rookie private detective’s search begins at Llewellyn College.
A women’s institution of higher learning in upstate New York, Llewellyn, for the first time in its two-hundred-year history, has opened its doors to male students. Fringe group The Womyn of Llewellyn are furious, but their ex-fashion-model president declares they have little choice due to financial shortfalls. But if that’s true, where did she get the money to build a brand new science center, and why is it under 24/7 surveillance by the town cops?
As Siobhan delves deeper into the search for her friend’s daughter, she encounters politely dangerous men in white turtlenecks, vegan cooking that might kill her, possibly deadly yoga poses, and a woman named Cleopatra who’s got more issues than National Geographic. This first in a new series introduces an endearing P.I. heroine in the tradition of classic female detectives like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski readers won’t be able to put down.
Description from Goodreads.
“With just the right mix of clever twists, endearing charm, looming threats, and contemporary issues, Woo debuts quite the absorbing new mystery series.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“This winning series launch from Woo… perceptively explores the theme of image and personal identity throughout. Readers will look forward to seeing more of the beguiling Siobhan.” – Publishers Weekly
“A heroine who’s by turns wide-eyed, gravely amused, susceptible, and plenty cool enough for an encore.” – Kirkus Reviews
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral-und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
Description from Goodreads.
“Harmel brilliantly imagines the life of a young Polish-French Jewish woman during the depths of WWII… Harmel movingly illustrates Eva’s courage to risk her own life for others, and all of the characters are portrayed with realistic compassion. This thoughtful work will touch readers with its testament to the endurance of hope.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism centered on a female forger who risks everything to help Jewish children escape Nazi-occupied France.” – People
“Harmel’s previous historical novels, including The Winemaker’s Wife, illuminate heartbreakingly real but forgotten stories from World War II, blended with a dash of suspense and romance, and this does the same. Recommend to fans of romantic historical fiction, including All the Ways We Said Goodbye.” – Booklist
The Vanishing Sky by L. Annette Binder
In 1945, as the war in Germany nears its violent end, the Huber family is not yet free of its dangers or its insidious demands. Etta, a mother from a small, rural town, has two sons serving their home country: her elder, Max, on the Eastern front, and her younger, Georg, at a school for Hitler Youth. When Max returns from the front, Etta quickly realizes that something is not right-he is thin, almost ghostly, and behaving very strangely. Etta strives to protect him from the Nazi rule, even as her husband, Josef, becomes more nationalistic and impervious to Max’s condition. Meanwhile, miles away, her younger son Georg has taken his fate into his own hands, deserting his young class of battle-bound soldiers to set off on a long and perilous journey home.
The Vanishing Sky is a World War II novel as seen through a German lens, a story of the irreparable damage of war on the home front, and one family’s participation-involuntary, unseen, or direct-in a dangerous regime. Drawing inspiration from her own father’s time in the Hitler Youth, L. Annette Binder has crafted a spellbinding novel about the daring choices we make for country and for family.
Description from Goodreads.
“The Vanishing Sky reveals the German home front as I’ve never seen it in fiction… Binder tells her story patiently, like an artist placing tiny pieces into a mosaic; this literary novel isn’t one to race through. But I find it gripping, powerful, and a brave narrative, unsparing in its honesty.” – Historical Novels Review
“[Binder] uses Etta Huber, a hausfrau in a rural village, as a means of feeling her way back into the past, channeling the anguish and uncertainty of the final months of the fighting.” – New York Times Book Review
“A masterful story of war, horror, and love… Binder provides a family’s-eye view of the terror and trauma, offering readers a unique perspective on the war.” – Kirkus Reviews
Malorie by Josh Malerman
Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence.
There remains no explanation. No solution.
All Malorie can do is survive—and impart her fierce will to do so on her children. Don’t get lazy, she tells them. Don’t take off your blindfold. AND DON’T LOOK.
But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope.
Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.
Malorie has already lost so much: her sister, a house full of people who meant everything, and any chance at an ordinary life. But getting her life back means returning to a world full of unknowable horrors—and risking the lives of her children again.
Because the creatures are not the only thing Malorie fears: There are the people who claim to have caught and experimented on the creatures. Murmerings of monstrous inventions and dangerous new ideas. And rumors that the creatures themselves have changed into something even more frightening.
Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more.
Description from Amazon.
“Another taut, breathless supernatural thriller… [Josh] Malerman masterfully evokes apocalyptic horrors via understatement and suggestion while facilitating suspension of disbelief through nuanced characterization and thoughtful worldbuilding. This is a bang-up sequel.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Malorie is the sequel we desperately needed but didn’t even know we wanted… stands perfectly equal to its predecessor.” – Cemetery Dance
“Malerman balances the novel’s various elements — family drama, road novel, supernatural thriller — with skill and genuine compassion for his characters and their blighted lives… [A] remarkable journey through an utterly compelling fictional world.” – Washington Post
The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek ★
Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.
For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.
The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.
This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.
Description from Goodreads.
“The beloved Jeopardy! host and game-show icon… finally tells his life story in this charming memoir.” – USA Today