Best New Books: Week of 10/6/2020

“Books may well be the only true magic.” – Alice Hoffman


Leave the World Behind by  Rumaan Alam ★

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another?

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

Description from Goodreads.

“Rarely have I encountered a book so cuttingly prescient about the current emotional atmosphere… Alam’s deployment of creepy, inexplicable detail is masterful… In some ways, the premise feels like the setup of any number of horror films, but Alam’s writing transcends that comparison, and the material with which he’s working is actually much more complex… This is a thrilling book—one that will speak to readers who have felt the terror of isolation in these recent, torturous months and one that will simultaneously, as great books do, lift them out of it. This book is going to be, as they say, big.” – Vogue

“[A] propulsive thriller… the book is both prescient and terrifying. Alam is an expert observer of the nuances of class and wealth, and the book is full of provocative, sensual detail, including one delicious page and a half where he lists every single thing his protagonist buys at the grocery store.”-  Vulture

“Riveting and claustrophobic, Leave the World Behind invites us to sit with our discomfort and reflect on our own rushed judgments, delivering a dazzling and dark examination of family, race, class, and what matters most when the impossible becomes possible.” – Esquire

“[Alam] is at the top of his game… One of the eeriest, most disturbing stories I’ve read in some time… Alam has not only brought his singular precision and subversive wit to his newest novel, but also has ventured into new, unhinged territory, where the contours of everything might be recognizable, but what’s contained within is wholly deranged.” – Refinery 29

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Magic Lessons by  Alice Hoffman ★

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

Description from Goodreads.

“Full of wonderfully strong women, fascinating history and a plot that doesn’t stop spinning, this book is a treat.” – AARP Magazine

“In Hoffman’s luminous prose, all characters, even the villains, are not only vividly, but also compassionately, rendered… Hoffman adeptly highlights that how one uses a talent, selflessly or selfishly, has a sweeping impact on many lives, meaning that one should always choose courage, and that love is the only answer.” – Booklist

Hoffman offers an eye-opening account of how single women were treated in the 17th century, particularly when their knowledge or intelligence was deemed threatening. [This] page-turning adventure is thoroughly enjoyable. Hoffman’s redemptive story of a fiercely independent woman adds an engrossing, worthwhile chapter to the series.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Heartbreaking and heart-healing… intense and gorgeous… This is an impressive tale, equal parts love story, history, and horror… The whole thing is absolutely riveting and riveting from start to finish.” – BookPage

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Earthlings by  Sayaka Murata ★

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself for a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Description from Goodreads.

“Exhilaratingly weird and funny… Unsettling and totally unpredictable.” – The Guardian

“It enthusiastically challenges most of our most deeply held societal taboos.” – BookPage

“A celebration of nonconformity that is both joyous and unsettling.” – The New Yorker

“As intoxicating as a sake mojito… A literary prize-winner that’s also a page turner.” – Vogue

“Casts a fluorescent spell… A thrifty and offbeat exploration of what we must each leave behind to participate in the world.” – New York Times

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

Missionaries by  Phil Klay ★

Neither Mason, a U.S. Army Special Forces medic, nor Lisette, a foreign correspondent, has emerged from America’s long post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unscathed. Yet war also exerts a terrible draw that neither can shake–the noble calling, the camaraderie, the life-and-death stakes. Where else in the world can such a person go? All roads lead to Colombia, where the US, with its patented fusion of intelligence dominance and quick-striking special operators, has partnered with local government to stamp out a vicious civil war and keep the predatory narco gangs at bay. Mason, now a liaison to the Colombian military, is ready for the good war, and Lisette is more than ready to cover it.

For Juan Pablo, Mason’s counterpart in the Colombian officer corps, translating reality into a language the Americans can understand requires a cartoonist’s gift for caricature, but it’s child’s play next to the challenge of navigating the viper’s nest of factions bidding for power, in the capital and far out in the field. And if Juan Pablo’s view is dark, the outlook of Abel, a lieutenant in the militia Los Mil Jesuses, which controls territory in rural Norte de Santander, a region on the Venezuelan border where the writ of law scarcely runs, is positively Stygian. Abel has lost everything he loves in the carnage that for his entire life has flowed unceasingly in this region, where the lines between drug cartels, militias, and the state are semi-permeable. It is Abel’s cruel fate to find safety only by serving a man he has come to fear and loathe.

Missionaries is an astonishment, a novel of extraordinary suspense whose central, unsparing drama is infused by a geopolitical sophistication and a wisdom about the human heart that would be rare even in isolation. As Los Mil Jesuses make their move to fill a power vacuum in Norte de Santander, aided and abetted by the Colombian military for its own reasons, the Americans are made pawns of a game they don’t even begin to understand. The result is an unfolding calamity that will leave no character unscathed, and will echo across the planet. A work whose accomplishment calls forth comparisons to Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and Robert Stone, Missionaries ultimately stands apart as its own electrifying new form of artistic reckoning with the forces we have unleashed in our world.

Description from Goodreads.

“With Missionaries Klay, winner of the National Book Award in 2014, has dropped a novel on us of a muscular veracity as terrifying and important as it is rare in contemporary writing.” – The Millions

“When Iraq War veteran Phil Klay’s debut short story collection, Redeployment, won the National Book Award in 2014, it was clear that a talented new writer had appeared on the literary scene. The promise revealed in that work now is fulfilled in his first novel, Missionaries… A tightly controlled, propulsive story… In its mood and subject matter, Missionaries bears a kinship to novels from the ’70s and ’80s like Robert Stone’s A Flag for Sunrise and Joan Didion’s A Book of Common Prayer. Phil Klay impressively updates the themes of those classic novels for our time, where ‘clean wars with clear boundaries’ no longer exist.” – Shelf Awareness

“National Book Award-winner Klay displays his signature virtuosity in this richly textured, masterful mosaic of modern Colombia. A small village serves as both backdrop and microcosm of the country’s ongoing turmoil. The struggle for survival is deftly juxtaposed with the struggle for power, and the varying gradations of each are explored through multiple perspectives with nuance, grace, and poignancy… Each character is rendered in psychologically astute moral complexity and must interrogate his or her own complicity in a corrupt and often violent system. Ultimately, all are pawns in the chess match of deep-state machinations masquerading as diplomacy. As the characters’ lives begin to intersect in a rewarding, yet tension-filled denouement, the author’s prodigious skill and deep understanding of the region provide the scaffolding to explore essential questions of human dignity and sacrifice. A triumphant achievement that elevates Klay to the top echelon of contemporary writers.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Boop and Eve’s Road Trip by  Mary Helen Sheriff

Eve Prince is done with college, with her mom, with guys, and with her dream of fashion design. But when her best friend goes MIA, Eve must gather the broken threads of her life to search for her.

Desperate to visit her sister, Boop, a retiree dripping with Southern charm, hijacks her granddaughter Eve’s road trip.

Along the way, Boop hopes to alleviate Eve’s growing depression—which, she knows from experience, will require more than flirting lessons and a Garlic Festival makeover. Nevertheless, she is frustrated when her feeble efforts yield the same failures that the sulfur-laced sip from the Fountain of Youth wrought on her age.

The one thing that might help is a secret that’s haunted Boop for sixty years. But in revealing it, Boop would risk losing her family and her own hard-won happiness.

Their journey through the heart of Dixie is an unforgettable love story between a grandmother and her granddaughter.

Description from Goodreads.

“A touching intergenerational romp through the coastal South.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] thoughtful and poignant coming of age read that offers an insight into US culture, thinking and family life. And offers an ultimate optimism that people do have the capacity for change.” – Trip Fiction

“[The] book equivalent of a warm hug. This sweet tale of a grandmother and granddaughter’s road trip to find a missing friend is full of fun pitstops and emotional family secrets, making it perfect for anyone who is looking for a gentle but rewarding read.” – PopSugar

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

Cuyahoga by  Pete Beatty

Big Son is a spirit of the times—the times being 1837. Behind his broad shoulders, shiny hair, and church-organ laugh, Big Son practically made Ohio City all by himself. The feats of this proto-superhero have earned him wonder and whiskey toasts but very little in the way of fortune. And without money, Big cannot become an honest husband to his beloved Cloe (who may or may not want to be his wife, honestly).

In pursuit of a steady wage, our hero hits the (dirt) streets of Ohio City and Cleveland, the twin towns racing to become the first great metropolis of the West. Their rivalry reaches a boil over the building of a bridge across the Cuyahoga River—and Big stumbles right into the kettle. The resulting misadventures involve elderly terrorists, infrastructure collapse, steamboat races, wild pigs, and multiple ruined weddings.

Narrating this “deliriously fun” (Brian Phillips) tale is Medium Son—known as Meed—apprentice coffin maker, almanac author, orphan, and the younger brother of Big. Meed finds himself swept up in the action, and he is forced to choose between brotherly love and his own ambitions. His uncanny voice—plain but profound, colloquial but surprisingly poetic—elevates a slapstick frontier tale into a screwball origin myth for the Rust Belt.

In Cuyahoga, tragedy and farce jumble together in a riotously original voice. Evoking the Greek classics and the Bible alongside nods to Looney Tunes, Charles Portis, and Flannery O’Connor, Pete Beatty has written a rollicking revisionist (mid)Western with universal themes of family and fate—an old, weird America that feels brand new.

Description from Goodreads.

“A boisterous adventure.” – The Millions

“An improbable, downright preposterous yarn ably spun and a great entertainment for a time in need of laughter.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…inspired… an American original.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book

These Violent Delights by  Micah Nemerever

When Paul and Julian meet as university freshmen in early 1970s Pittsburgh, they are immediately drawn to one another. A talented artist, Paul is sensitive and agonizingly insecure, incomprehensible to his working-class family, and desolate with grief over his father’s recent death. 

Paul sees the wealthy, effortlessly charming Julian as his sole intellectual equal—an ally against the conventional world he finds so suffocating. He idolizes his friend for his magnetic confidence. But as charismatic as he can choose to be, Julian is also volatile and capriciously cruel. And admiration isn’t the same as trust.

As their friendship spirals into an all-consuming intimacy, Paul is desperate to protect their precarious bond, even as it becomes clear that pressures from the outside world are nothing compared with the brutality they are capable of inflicting on one another. Separation is out of the question. But as their orbit compresses and their grip on one another tightens, they are drawn to an act of irrevocable violence that will force the young men to confront a shattering truth at the core of their relationship.   

Exquisitely plotted, unfolding with a propulsive ferocity, These Violent Delights is a novel of escalating dread and an excavation of the unsettling depths of human desire.

Description from Goodreads.

“Few novelists make an impression as quickly and effectively as Micah Nemerever does in his stirring debut, an explosively erotic and erudite thriller. Kicking off with an electrifying prologue… readers will keep turning pages in desperate pursuit of the tension-breaking relief that can only come from seeing the story to its conclusion.” – BookPage

“It’s only a matter of time before things start to explode in this enthralling, unpredictable thriller.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“[A] dark, inspired debut… Fans of Patricia Highsmith will definitely want to take note of this promising writer.” – Publishers Weekly

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Daughter of Black Lake by  Cathy Marie Buchanan

It’s the season of Fallow, in the era of iron. In a northern misty bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, a settlement lies far beyond the reach of the Romans invading hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple–or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honor Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time. A girl named Devout comes of age, sweetly flirting with the young man she’s tilled alongside all her life, and envisions a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, though, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their foreign ways and military might, have arrived at the doorstep. For Devout’s young daughter, life is more troubled than her mother ever anticipated. But this girl has an extraordinary gift. As worlds collide and peril threatens, it will be up to her to save her family and community.

Set in a time long forgotten, Daughter of Black Lake brings the ancient world to life and introduces us to an unforgettable family facing an unimaginable trial.

Description from Goodreads.

“Buchanan has crafted an engrossing novel awash in historical atmosphere. From religious beliefs to culture clashes to social stratification and the activities of daily life, Buchanan immerses readers in Roman Britain in this beautifully emotive tale of family, community, and love.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Buchanan’s descriptions of pagan rituals are fully realized and provide a haunting, engaging backdrop for the two teenage protagonists. Fans of thoughtful, inventive historical fiction will enjoy this transporting novel.” – Publishers Weekly

“Evocative, meticulously researched. History truly comes to life.” – Parade

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

The Wrong Kind of Woman by  Sarah McCraw Crow

In late 1970, Oliver Desmarais drops dead in his front yard while hanging Christmas lights. In the year that follows, his widow, Virginia, struggles to find her place on the campus of the elite New Hampshire men’s college where Oliver was a professor. While Virginia had always shared her husband’s prejudices against the four outspoken, never-married women on the faculty–dubbed the Gang of Four by their male counterparts–she now finds herself depending on them, even joining their work to bring the women’s movement to Clarendon College.

Soon, though, reports of violent protests across the country reach this sleepy New England town, stirring tensions between the fraternal establishment of Clarendon and those calling for change. As authorities attempt to tamp down “radical elements,” Virginia must decide whether she’s willing to put herself and her family at risk for a cause that had never felt like her own.

Told through alternating perspectives, The Wrong Kind of Woman is an engrossing story about finding the strength to forge new paths, beautifully woven against the rapid changes of the early ’70s.

Description from Goodreads.

“In her entrancing debut, McCraw Crow traces the impact of second-wave feminism and the antiwar movement in the early 1970s on a New Hampshire college campus… The choice to present the characters’ desperate actions in shades of gray makes for engrossing reading.” – Publishers Weekly

The Wrong Kind of Woman explores the sublimation of self within a marriage, sexism in the workplace and the pros and cons of activism versus revolution. These are heady topics, but this slow burn of a novel proves a perfect place to give them serious thought.” – BookPage

” A sterling debut novel from Crow.” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Troubles in Paradise by  Elin Hilderbrand

After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved.

With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold — including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John — and the truth that transformed them all.

Description from Amazon.

“Nobody sets a scene like Hilderbrand, and readers will relish the satisfying conclusion to this vividly escapist trilogy that is
as aspirational as it is emotional.” – Booklist

“The Steele family’s three-volume St. John adventure comes to a poignant end.” – Kirkus Reviews

Trouble in Paradise demonstrates how acceptance can come from heartache as well as renewal, romance, with an added touch of suspense and mystery. As usual, Hildebrand’s panache for delighting her readers with colorful settings and well-fleshed out and plausible characters offers a very pleasing read.” – New York Journal of Books

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook


The Searcher by  Tana French ★

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

Description from Goodreads.

“…deliver[s] plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…superb… Insightful characterizations, even of minor figures, and a devastating reveal help make this a standout. Crime fiction fans won’t want to miss this one.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A slow-burn stunner that will keep readers turning the pages late into the night. Recommend to the author’s legions of fans, as well as those who enjoy crime fiction set in small towns like Julia Keller’s or Jane Harper’s novels.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“In another stand-alone, French again displays impressive versatility… French skillfully builds suspense… a fine thriller, but also a moving story of an unlikely friendship that grows from refinishing a ramshackle desk to rebuilding two nearly broken lives.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

The Devil and the Dark Water by  Stuart Turton ★

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] outstanding whodunit… Fans of impossible crime fiction won’t want to miss this one.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A devilish sea saga that never runs out of cutthroat conspiracies.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“With the mix of humour, suspense, plot twists, and action scenes, The Devil and the Dark Water proves to be a novel all kinds of readers will enjoy.” – The NERD Daily

Available Formats:

Print Book Coming Soon | eBook | Hoopla eBook

Snow by  John Banville

Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.

The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protestant, and determined to identify the murderer—faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in this tight-knit community. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community’s secrets, like the snowfall itself, threatens to obliterate everything.

The incomparable Booker Prize winner’s next great crime novel—the story of an aristocratic family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their home.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] deceptively complex mystery with literary flourishes… [A] brilliant mix of old tropes and sadly modern evil.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A beautifully executed, nostalgia-churning throwback that directs the occasional wink at the reader.” – Shelf Awareness

“This is one of the best mystery stories I’ve read in years and its emotional impact resonates long after the book comes to an end… Beautifully written (of course), this is an outstanding novel and an absolute page-turner.” – The Independent

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Deception by Gaslight by  Kate Belli

As a chill sets in on New York City in the winter of 1888, a jewel thief dubbed the “Robin Hood of the Lower East Side” has been stealing from the city’s wealthiest and giving to the poor. Genevieve Stewart–a young woman whose family is part of Mrs. Astor’s famed 400 but who has forged a life of her own as a reporter–decides to chase the story, but gets more than she bargained for: a murder victim sprawled in a dark alley in the dangerous Five Points neighborhood.

A handsome neighborhood tough comes to her rescue–but when she encounters the same man at a glamorous ball a few nights later, she realizes he’s society scion Daniel McCaffrey. Could this be her Robin Hood? When two more murders rock the Knickerbocker world, it becomes apparent that something much more sinister is afoot than a few stolen diamond necklaces. Genevieve is determined to prove that Daniel is Robin Hood–but she’s loath to believe he is a killer as well. From the glittering lights of Fifth Avenue to the sordid back alleys of Five Points, the truth is just one murder away.

Description from Goodreads.

“This first in a promising series drops readers right into the dirty, cutthroat streets of a bygone Gotham, introduces a couple whose fortunes they’ll wish to follow, and makes a great recommendation for fans of Mariah Fredericks.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] riveting, carefully researched, [and] well-plotted mystery.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Gilded Age romance and complex crimes produce welcome surprises in the first of a new series.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

A Pretty Deceit by  Anna Lee Huber

Peacetime has brought little respite for Verity Kent. Intrigue still abounds, even within her own family. As a favor to her father, Verity agrees to visit his sister in Wiltshire. Her once prosperous aunt has fallen on difficult times and is considering selling their estate. But there are strange goings-on at the manor, including missing servants, possible heirloom forgeries, and suspicious rumors—all leading to the discovery of a dead body on the grounds.
While Verity and her husband, Sidney, investigate this new mystery, they are also on the trail of an old adversary—the shadowy and lethal Lord Ardmore. At every turn, the suspected traitor seems to be one step ahead of them. And even when their dear friend Max, the Earl of Ryde, stumbles upon a code hidden among his late father’s effects that may reveal the truth about Ardmore, Verity wonders if they are really the hunters—or the hunted…

Description from Goodreads.

“While visiting a titled auntie who has fallen on postwar hard times, Verity finds herself on hand for the immediate aftermath of what may be a homicide on the estate grounds. Combine that with priceless heirlooms gone missing, a disappeared staff and a ghost sighting or two, and you have the makings of a historical mystery to delight fans of Agatha Christie or Daphne du Maurier.” – BookPage

“Huber elegantly blends espionage and mystery.” – Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling and touching amalgam of wartime suffering, high crimes, and deadly secrets.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook


Dear Child by  Romy Hausmann ★

A windowless shack in the woods. A dash to safety. But when a woman finally escapes her captor, the end of the story is only the beginning of her nightmare.

She says her name is Lena. Lena, who disappeared without a trace 14 years prior. She fits the profile. She has the distinctive scar. But her family swears that she isn’t their Lena.

The little girl who escaped the woods with her knows things she isn’t sharing, and Lena’s devastated father is trying to piece together details that don’t quite fit. Lena is desperate to begin again, but something tells her that her tormentor still wants to get back what belongs to him… and that she may not be able to truly escape until the whole truth about what happened in the woods finally emerges.

Twisty, suspenseful, and psychologically clever, Romy Hausmann’s Dear Child is a captivating thriller with all the ingredients of a breakout hit.

Description from Goodreads.

“The deliciously creepy Dear Child by Romy Hausmann is deftly crafted and keeps you guessing until the very last page.” – Real Simple

“There are so many twists – all of them shocking… As unsettling as they come, this outstanding debut… is recommended not only to [Room] fans, but also to those who enjoy true crime, as the verisimilitude here is second to none. The movie can’t be far behind.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A peerless exercise in suspense… Whether treated as a study in trauma and identity or a dark, well-crafted crime narrative from multiple perspectives, it is a nail-biting fare.” – Financial Times

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Confessions on the 7:45 by  Lisa Unger

Everyone has a secret… Now she knows yours.

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a TrainConfessions on the 7:45 is a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“Diabolically clever… [An] exquisitely crafted psychological thriller.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Absorbing… Reminiscent of Strangers on a Train and The Grifters, Unger’s novel provides a master class in plotting.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Full of twists, turns, and many POVs, this page turner is perfect for those who like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.” – LibraryReads

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Zero Zone by  Scott O’Connor

Los Angeles, the late 1970s: Jess Shepard is an installation artist who creates environments that focus on light and space, often leading to intense sensory experiences for visitors to her work. A run of critically lauded projects peaks with Zero Zone, an installation at the former site of nuclear bomb testing in the New Mexico desert. But what begins as a vehicle for healing, soon becomes the flashpoint for a violent confrontation between a small group of fanatics experiencing what they perceive as a religious awakening within Zero Zone and the authorities.

Devastated and haunted by the events in the desert and the ensuing media attention, Jess retreats from the world. Unable to work, she unravels mentally and emotionally, plagued by a nagging uncertainty as to her culpability for what transpired in her creation.

Three years later, a survivor from Zero Zone comes calling, compelling Jess to face down her fears and recover her art—and possibly her life—from the violent cult intent on making it their own.

Description from Goodreads.

“After finishing this cinematic novel, readers will be compelled to start again at page one to discover how O’Connor pieces together his suspenseful, incredibly well-written narrative.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Magnetic… O’Connor dovetails Jess’s perspective with those of the Zero Zone survivors, excavating the truth like an archaeologist unearthing a skeleton. Recommended for fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.” – Booklist

Zero Zone is a pounding thriller that also takes on questions about creation, the ownership of art, and the vague lines of responsibility between those whose lives have been bonded in tragedy.” – CrimeReads

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi by  Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Gikuyu and Mumbi settled on the peaceful and bounteous foot of Mount Kenya after fleeing war and hunger. When ninety-nine suitors arrive on their land, seeking to marry their famously beautiful daughters, called The Perfect Nine, the parents ask their daughters to choose for themselves, but to choose wisely.

First the young women must embark on a treacherous quest with the suitors, to find a magical cure for their youngest sister, Warigia, who cannot walk. As they journey up the mountain, the number of suitors diminishes and the sisters put their sharp minds and bold hearts to the test, conquering fear, doubt, hunger and many menacing ogres, as they attempt to return home. But it is perhaps Warigia’s unexpected adventure that will be most challenging of all.

Blending folklore, mythology and allegory, Ngugi wa Thiong’o chronicles the adventures of Gikuyu and Mumbi, and how their brave daughters became the matriarchs of the Gikuyu clans, in stunning verse, with all the epic elements of danger, humour and suspense.

Description from Goodreads.

“Unfolding in wry and lyrical verse, The Perfect Nine tells a Homeric odyssey of the creation of the entire Gĩkũyũ people—a creationist myth, an adventure tale, and a family story, wherein the wives do not simply wait at home.” – Literary Hub

“Combining Homeric verse with oral storytelling tropes—choruses, chants, songs—he retells the origin myth of the Gĩkũyũ, Kenya’s largest tribe… Thiong’o’s fans will appreciate this.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] triumph of the form, which resounds with the lyrical heartbeat of the Gĩkũyũ people in Kenya as Ngũgĩ chronicles their mythic history… a beautiful retelling of the Gĩkũyũ myth that emphasizes the noble pursuit of beauty, the necessity of personal courage, the importance of filial piety, and a sense of the Giver Supreme—a being who represents divinity, and unity, across world religions.” – World Literature Today

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The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by  V.A. Schwab ★

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Description from Goodreads.

“This deeply satisfying and cinematic novel rivals contemporary classic The Time Traveler’s Wife in concept and scope.” – Amazon Book Review

“…one of the most wonderful, thought-provoking and heartbreaking books I have ever read… beautiful and immersive… a very special book about what it means to be human and to grow.” – Grimdark

“Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Schwab crafts the tale of one woman’s desperate drive to be remembered into a triumphant exploration of love and loss… This sweeping fantasy is as much a love story as it is a tribute to storytelling, art, and inspiration. Schwab’s diverse cast is beautifully rendered, and the view of human connection on offer is biting and bitter, yet introspective and sweet. This ambitious and hopeful work is a knockout.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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In a Holidaze by  Christina Lauren ★

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake… she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Description from Goodreads.

“Sweet and steamy!” – USA Today

“Take one lovably flawed heroine, add a doting boy-next-door hero, and sprinkle in a cozy family holiday, and you have the recipe for a delicious time-looping romantic comedy from best-selling duo Lauren.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A classic plot plus Lauren’s trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Spoiler Alert by  Olivia Dade ★

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster.  Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

Description from Goodreads.

“It’s a path of self-discovery, healing and growth, punctuated by scorching chemistry, whip-smart dialogue and sidesplitting humor.” – Washington Post

“[A] clever, creative story… Dade handles both the fun and toxic dynamics of fandom and social media with insight and compassion. Given equal weight are Marcus and April’s difficult family histories, as both work through the damage inflicted by parents who judged them to be ‘flawed.’ The result is nuanced, unflinching, and deeply romantic. Dade’s fans and new readers alike will fall in love.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Even those new to online fanfiction will find this a charming and engrossing read. Issues of body positivity, dyslexia, and found families are among the topics addressed with sensitivity and realism. The between-chapter segments of fanfic server chats, fanfic synopsis, and truly horrible screenplays add to the fun.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Apple (Skin to the Core) by  Eric Gansworth

How about a book that makes you barge into your boss’s office to read a page of poetry from? That you dream of? That every movie, song, book, moment that follows continues to evoke in some way?

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.”

Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.

Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.

Description from Amazon.

“Phrases and concepts circle and repeat throughout—’apple,’ for example, appears both as a pejorative (‘red on the outside, white on the inside’) and in reference to the Beatles’ Apple Records, after which the work is structured—creating a raw, layered story about love and loss of community, culture, and place.” – Publishers Weekly

“Narrating his life experiences in hauntingly lyrical language, Gansworth reveals the heartbreaking struggle of a family–11 people living in a three-bedroom house–with too little to eat and a mostly absent father whose every attempt to get ahead is undermined by structural racism… a brilliantly moving combination of verse, prose and illustration. ” – Shelf Awareness

“Get it soon if you enjoyed Gansworth’s YA novels and/or have an interest in Indigenous history… will likely be appreciated by many adult readers.” – Rich In Color

Available Formats:

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Is This Anything? by  Jerry Seinfeld

Since his first performance at the legendary New York nightclub “Catch a Rising Star” as a twenty-one-year-old college student in fall of 1975, Jerry Seinfeld has written his own material and saved everything. “Whenever I came up with a funny bit, whether it happened on a stage, in a conversation, or working it out on my preferred canvas, the big yellow legal pad, I kept it in one of those old school accordion folders,” Seinfeld writes. “So I have everything I thought was worth saving from forty-five years of hacking away at this for all I was worth.”

For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favorite material, organized decade by decade. In page after hilarious page, one brilliantly crafted observation after another, readers will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy.

Description from Goodreads.

“Be prepared to laugh…” – Delaware Today

“Comedian Seinfeld reflects on the absurdities of life in a laugh-out-loud volume that gathers jokes he’s written over the course of his 45-year career along with reminiscences on the lifestyle and craft of stand-up… This sharply observed, life-in-gags treasure trove offers essential reading for comedy fans, from a master of the form.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by  Fareed Zakaria

Lenin once said, “There are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen.” This is one of those times when history has sped up. CNN host and best-selling author Fareed Zakaria helps readers to understand the nature of a post-pandemic world: the political, social, technological, and economic impacts that may take years to unfold.

In the form of ten straightforward “lessons,” covering topics from globalization and threat-preparedness to inequality and technological advancement, Zakaria creates a structure for readers to begin thinking beyond the immediate impacts of COVID-19. Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World speaks to past, present, and future, and, while urgent and timely, is sure to become an enduring staple.

Description from Goodreads.

“A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“CNN anchor and Washington Post columnist Zakaria approaches the new realities of 2020 with his usual sang-froid, delineating the systems we must implement and the fears we must face to come out on the other side of the novel coronavirus. Zakaria considers the digital economy, the resilience of cities, the lessons of socialism and the deepening rift between the United States and China to deliver a small-scale syllabus for global course correction.” – Washington Post

“Zakaria, who personifies thoughtful, levelheaded judgement, lays out the lessons learned from COVID-19, citing the success stories and recommending improvements for a possible future where we are able to competently navigate similar threats.” – Amazon Book Review

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White Tears / Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by  Ruby Hamad

Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep their slaves, through the centuries of colonialism, when they offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, White Tears / Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women’s active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long overdue validation of the experiences of women of color.

Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the viral “BBQ Becky” video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. She shows how the division between innocent white women and racialized, sexualized women of color was created, and why this division is crucial to confront.

Along the way are revelatory responses to questions such as: Why are white men not troubled by sexual assault of women? With rigor and precision, Hamad builds a powerful argument about the legacy of white superiority we are socialized in, a reality we must apprehend in order to fight.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] must-read.” – Harper’s Bazaar

“Exactly the kind of book that every ally needs to read right now.” – Cosmopolitan

“Hamad offers a comprehensive look at the ways in which women of color have been dismissed by society… This book should be considered required reading.” – The Observer

Available Formats:

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Keep Moving: Nots on Loss, Creativity, and Change by  Maggie Smith

For fans of Anne Lamott and Cleo Wade, a collection of quotes and essays on facing life’s challenges with creativity, courage, and resilience.

When Maggie Smith, the award-winning author of the viral poem “Good Bones,” started writing daily Twitter posts in the wake of her divorce, they unexpectedly caught fire. In this deeply moving book of quotes and essays, Maggie writes about new beginnings as opportunities for transformation. Like kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics with gold, Keep Moving celebrates the beauty and strength on the other side of loss.

This is a book for anyone who has gone through a difficult time and is wondering: What comes next?

Description from Goodreads.

“In a season of unprecedented uncertainty, Keep Moving has arrived just in time.” – Bookpage, STARRED REVIEW

“Simple yet profound insights and advice to return to in times of confusion or loss.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Following Maggie Smith on Twitter is like entering an inspirational capsule of wisdom, truth, and vulnerability—and now we get the privilege to read more of the American poet’s courageous words in her latest book.” – Marie Claire

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Humans by  Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton’s Humans – his most moving and compelling book to date – shows us the world. After five years of traveling the globe, the creator of Humans of New York brings people from all parts of the world into a conversation with readers. He ignores borders, chronicles lives and shows us the faces of the world as he saw them. His travels took him from London, Paris and Rome to Iraq, Dubai, Ukraine, Pakistan, Jordan, Uganda, Vietnam, Israel and every other place in between. His interviews go deeper than before. His chronicling of peoples’ lives shows the experience of a writer who has traveled widely and thought deeply about the state of our world.

Including hundreds of photos and stories of the people he met and talked with in over forty countries, Humans is classic Brandon Stanton – a fully color illustrated book that includes many photos and stories never seen before. For the first time for a HONY title, Humans will contain several of the essays Brandon’s posted online which have been read, loved and enthusiastically shared by his followers.

Description from Goodreads.

“A panoply of interesting stories… and what stories they are. A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Stanton has taken his legendary storytelling and photography global… millions follow [him], and the empathy and love his work engenders will be a balm to many more.” – Booklist

“Profound interviews and signature stunning photography.” – Newsweek

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Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by  Ina Garten

A collection of all-new soul-satisfying dishes from America’s favorite home cook!

In Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites–but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina’s Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron!

There are few things more comforting than gathering for a meal with the ones you love, especially when dishes like Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas are at the center of the table. Old-fashioned crowd pleasers like Roasted Sausages, Peppers, and Onions are even more delicious and streamlined for quick cleanup. For dessert? You’ll find the best Boston Cream Pie, Banana Rum Trifle, and Black and White Cookies you’ll ever make. Home cooks can always count on Ina’s dependable, easy-to-follow instructions, with lots of side notes for cooking and entertaining–it’s like having Ina right there beside you, helping you all the way.

From cocktails to dessert, from special weekend breakfasts to quick weeknight dinners, you’ll find yourself making these cozy and delicious recipes over and over again.

Description from Goodreads.

“…delightful… Garten fans will dig into these inviting recipes, presented in her always friendly tone.” – Publishers Weekly

“Garten’s cookbooks are perennial best sellers. Anyone in search of nostalgic American comfort food with a twist will enjoy her latest offering.” – Library Journal

“…your favorite comforting foods with an elevated twist.” – The Spruce Eats

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Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by  Anne Helen Petersen

An incendiary examination of burnout in millennials—the cultural shifts that got us here, the pressures that sustain it, and the need for drastic change.

Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t EvenBuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over eight million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] razor sharp book of cultural criticism… With blistering prose and all-too vivid reporting, Petersen lays bare the burnout and despair of millennials, while also charting a path to a world where members of her generation can feel as if the boot has been removed from their necks.” – Esquire

“Petersen’s third book, a highlight-every-sentence-in-recognition survey of the anxiety and exhaustion baked into the lives of myriad young people, dispels many of the myths and misconceptions—the laziness! the entitlement!—surrounding the generation that came of age amid the internet and economic collapse. Yet rather than pit millennials against boomers, Petersen makes meaningful and constructive connections between the toils and troubles of the two groups.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

“Brilliantly researched… Insightful in the vein of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique and powerful in the tradition of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, Petersen’s Can’t Even manages to engross and infuriate while still entertain.” – Shelf Awareness

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Eleanor by  David Michaelis

In the first single-volume cradle-to-grave portrait in six decades, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis delivers a stunning account of Eleanor Roosevelt’s remarkable life of transformation. An orphaned niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, she converted her Gilded Age childhood of denial and secrecy into an irreconcilable marriage with her ambitious fifth cousin Franklin. Despite their inability to make each other happy, Franklin Roosevelt transformed Eleanor from a settlement house volunteer on New York’s Lower East Side into a matching partner in New York’s most important power couple in a generation.

When Eleanor discovered Franklin’s betrayal with her younger, prettier social secretary, Lucy Mercer, she offered a divorce and vowed to face herself honestly. Here is an Eleanor both more vulnerable and more aggressive, more psychologically aware and sexually adaptable than we knew. She came to accept FDR’s bond with his executive assistant, Missy LeHand; she allowed her children to live their own lives, as she never could; and she explored her sexual attraction to women, among them a star female reporter on FDR’s first presidential campaign, and younger men.

Eleanor needed emotional connection. She pursued deeper relationships wherever she could find them. Throughout her life and travels, there was always another person or place she wanted to heal. As FDR struggled to recover from polio, Eleanor became a voice for the voiceless, her husband’s proxy in presidential ambition, and then the people’s proxy in the White House. Later, she would be the architect of international human rights and world citizen of the Atomic Age, urging Americans to cope with the anxiety of global annihilation by cultivating a “world mind.” She insisted that we cannot live for ourselves alone but must learn to live together or we will die together.

Drawing on new research, Michaelis’ riveting portrait is not just a comprehensive biography of a major American figure, but the story of an American ideal: how our freedom is always a choice. Eleanor rediscovers a model of what is noble and evergreen in the American character, a model we need today more than ever.

Description from Goodreads.

“Compulsively readable and exhaustively researched… Michaelis’ clear-eyed but sympathetic portrayal, enhanced by a crisp writing style, brings Roosevelt’s personality and achievements into sharp focus. This jam-packed biography is a must-read for 20th-century history buffs.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Repositions Eleanor Roosevelt’s extensively scrutinized, unique, and exceptional life in ways that emphasize just how profoundly relevant her epic struggles and achievements are in this time of political reckoning and quest for genuine social justice. With judicious use of newly accessible sources, sure command of the complexities of the Roosevelt clan, and acute sensitivity to the contrast between Eleanor’s public persona and inner self, Michaelis provides a fresh and heart-wrenching perspective.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Compelling and comprehensive… fast-moving, engrossing… [Michaelis’] impeccable story-telling and seamless integration of dialogue and quotations allow him to create an intimate, lively and emotional portrait that unfolds like a good novel. As America faces another challenging period in its history, there may be no better time for readers to turn to the life of one of our nation’s truly great leaders for inspiration.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

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The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom by  H.W. Brands

John Brown was a charismatic and deeply religious man who heard the God of the Old Testament speaking to him, telling him to destroy slavery by any means. In 1854, when Congress opened Kansas territory to slavery, Brown raised a band of followers to wage war against the institution–his men tore proslavery settlers from their homes and hacked them to death with broadswords. Three years later Brown and his men assaulted the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to arm slaves with weapons for the coming race war that would cleanse the nation of slavery once and for all.

Brown’s violence pointed ambitious Illinois lawyer and former office-holder Abraham Lincoln toward a different solution to slavery: politics. A member of the moderate wing of the new, antislavery Republican Party, he spoke cautiously and dreamed big, plotting his path to Washington and perhaps the White House. Yet Lincoln’s caution couldn’t preserve him from the vortex of violence Brown set in motion. Arrested and sentenced to death, Brown’s righteous dignity on the way to the gallows led many in the North to see him as a martyr to liberty. Southerners responded in anger and horror that a terrorist was made into a saint. Lincoln shrewdly threaded the needle of the fracturing country and won election as president, still preaching moderation.

But the time for moderation had passed, and as the nation careened toward war Lincoln would see his central faith, that democracy can resolve its moral crises peacefully, face the ultimate test. Master storyteller H. W. Brands narrates in thrilling fashion how two men confronted America’s gravest scourge in the moments before the nation’s darkest hour.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fascinating…” – New York Times

“Brands is a master storyteller… Brands uses original sources and narrative flair to illuminate how Brown’s fierce moral clarity eventually forced Lincoln to confront the sins of slavery. The result is an informative, absorbing and heartbreaking American story, the reverberations of which are still felt today.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Entertaining and insightful… Brands provides essential historical context and intriguing insights into both men’s characters and decision-making. American history fans will be thrilled.” – Publishers Weekly

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Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by  Cristina Rivera Garza

Grieving is Cristina Rivera Garza’s hybrid collection of short crónicas, journalism, and personal essays on systemic violence in contemporary Mexico and along the US-Mexico border. Drawing together horror theory and historical analysis, she outlines how neoliberalism, corruption, and drug trafficking—culminating in the misnamed “war on drugs”—has shaped the political landscape on both sides of the border. Working from and against this context, Rivera Garza posits that collective grief is an act of resistance against state violence, and that writing is a powerful mode of seeking social justice and embodying resilience.

She states: “As we write, as we work with language—the humblest and most powerful force available to us—we activate the potential of words, phrases, sentences. Writing as we grieve, grieving as we write: a practice able to create refuge from the open. Writing with others. Grieving like someone who takes refuge from the open. Grieving, which is always a radically different mode of writing.”

Description from Goodreads.

“A lucid, poignant collection of essays and poetry… deeply hopeful, ultimately love letters to writing itself, and to the power of language to overcome the silence that impunity imposes.” – New York Times Book Review

“A compelling work of social criticism that speaks to a desperate time.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Rivera Garza’s remarkable writing captures a sense of place through evocative imagery and detail. Her incisive look at Mexico’s national grief emphasizes the humanity and struggle of daily life there… a thought-provoking, moving analysis of social and political reckoning in Mexico.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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