Best New Books: Week of 7/13/21

“Sometimes she craved a little danger. And that was why she had book club.” – Grady Hendrix, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires



FICTION



Appleseed by  Matt Bell ★

appleseedIn eighteenth-century Ohio, two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they remake the wilderness in their own image, planning for a future of settlement and civilization, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured and broken—and possibly healed.

Fifty years from now, in the second half of the twenty-first century, climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world’s resources. But a growing resistance is working to redistribute both land and power—and in a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company’s original founders will return to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build.

A thousand years in the future, North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier—and in a daring and seemingly impossible quest, sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization.

Hugely ambitious in scope and theme, Appleseed is the breakout novel from a writer “as self-assured as he is audacious” (NPR) who “may well have invented the pulse-pounding novel of ideas” (Jess Walter). Part speculative epic, part tech thriller, part reinvented fairy tale, Appleseed is an unforgettable meditation on climate change; corporate, civic, and familial responsibility; manifest destiny; and the myths and legends that sustain us all.

Description from Goodreads.

Appleseed incorporates myth, sci-fi, and satire into its dazzling high-wire act… Bell executes a kind of literary daredevilry, making carefully controlled storytelling feel treacherous and delightful.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“Bell’s terrifying yet deeply humane novel of ideas is both an awesome work of imagination and a stirring ecological call-to-arms—a reminder of what the best genre-bending books can achieve.” – Literary Hub

Appleseed plays on the dystopian climate disaster genre, deftly weaving threads from Greek mythology, magical realism, and America’s settler-colonial folklore to create the parallel universe its characters inhabit… Unpredictable to the last page, Appleseed ties these disparate narratives together with a rich network of symbolism and sharp prose.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

“Enormously ambitious… Bell not only radically shifts tone between [the] three timelines, he confidently hops genres as well.” – Locus

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Final Girl Support Group by  Grady Hendrix ★

final girl support groupIn horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Description from Goodreads.

“Equal parts thrilling and darkly funny.” – TIME

“If you grew up on a diet of ’80s slasher movies, The Final Girl Support Group is the book you’ve been waiting for… Clever, fast-paced horror comedy.” – Oprah Daily

“A great read… [Hendrix] excels at writing horror humor… His characters are funny and real, though at least one will definitely lose a limb at some point… Though the final girls’ plight has all the scares of great horror fiction, there is an element of truth in their situation that will be recognizable to anyone who has experienced real trauma.” – New York Times

“A wildly entertaining romp through the conventions of horror’s slasher film subgenre… Hendrix masterfully evokes the paranoid existences of his diverse cast in the aftermath of their traumatic ordeals, and he so explicitly details the massacres and fictional film sagas that grew out of them that readers may believe them to be real. The result is a wonderfully suspenseful and darkly comic novel that cleverly subverts popular culture. Horror fans will be wowed.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


The Startup Wife by  Tahmima Anam ★

startup wifeMeet Asha Ray.

Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.

Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.

The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?

In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?

Description from Goodreads.

“Faith, feminism, and our automated future make for a delicious mash-up in this satirical novel… Anam’s penetrating look at the tech world’s discrimination pairs beautifully with her meditation on marriage and faith.” – Esquire

“A scathing—and hilarious—take on startup culture, marriage and workaholism.” – Politico

“A zippy novel that deepens into a reckoning with self-delusion.” – Scientific American

“A brilliantly incisive social novel… Because The Startup Wife is sexy and funny and puts relationships at the forefront, it might be easy to overlook its depth and sophistication. But The Startup Wife’s insights about modern relationships, gender politics, race, technology, and culture are as excellent and vital as its storytelling.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


Embassy Wife by  Katie Crouch ★

embassy wifeMeet Persephone Wilder, a displaced genius posing as the wife of an American diplomat in Namibia. Persephone takes her job as a representative of her country seriously, coming up with an intricate set of rules to survive the problems she encounters: how to dress in hundred-degree weather without showing too much skin, how not to look drunk at embassy functions, and how to eat roasted oryx with grace. She also suspects her husband is not actually the ambassador’s legal counsel but a secret agent in the CIA. The consummate embassy wife, she takes the newest trailing spouse, Amanda Evans, under her wing.

Amanda arrives in Namibia mere weeks after giving up her Silicon Valley job so her husband, Mark, can have his family close by as he works on his Fulbright project. But once they’re settled in the sub-Saharan desert, Amanda sees clearly that Mark, who lived in Namibia two decades earlier, has other reasons for returning. Back in the safety of home, the marriage had seemed solid; in the glaring heat of the Kalahari, it feels tenuous. And the situation grows even more fraught when their daughter becomes involved in an international conflict and their own government won’t stand up for her.

How far will Amanda go to keep her family intact? How much corruption can Persephone ignore? And what, exactly, does it mean to be an American abroad when you’re not sure you understand your country anymore?

Propulsive and provocative, Embassy Wife asks what it means to be a human in this world, even as it helps us laugh in the face of our own absurd, seemingly impossible states of affairs.

Description from Goodreads.

“Delightful, humorous and shocking… A page-turner filled with astute commentary on American expats, the legacy of colonialism, and white feminism.” – Alma

“Entertaining and insightful… Crouch presses her female characters to their limits, reaching notes of genuine triumph without sacrificing the wry comedy, while the red dust and heat of Namibia radiate off the page. This is a blast.” – Publishers Weekly

“In addition to sketching complex characters with rich backstories, Crouch excels at moving the plot forward while not missing any opportunity to observe the human condition. With wit and tenderness, [Embassy Wife] explores the complicated nature of race, power, marriage, colonization, diplomacy, and community. A sharp, funny, page-turning romp.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] observant, funny satire. Unpredictable twists lead to an ending where everyone may not get what they want, but they get what they need. Suggest this one to fans of Meg Wolitzer and Maria Semple.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


People Like Them by  Samira Sedira

people like themEverything started one Saturday in July of 2015…

Anna and Constant Guillot live with their two daughters in the peaceful, remote mountain village of Carmac, largely deaf to the upheavals of the outside world. Everyone in Carmac knows each other, and most of its residents look alike–until Bakary and Sylvia Langlois arrive with their three children.

Wealthy and flashy, the family of five are outsiders in the small town, their impressive chalet and three expensive cars a stark contrast to the modesty of those of their neighbors. Despite their differences, the Langlois and the Guillots form an uneasy, ambiguous friendship. But when both families begin experiencing financial troubles, the underlying class and racial tensions of their relationship come to a breaking point, and the unthinkable happens.

With piercing psychological insight and gripping storytelling, People Like Them asks: How could a seemingly normal person commit an atrocious crime? How could that person’s loved ones ever come to terms with it afterward? And how well can you really know your own spouse?

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] delicious page-turner.” – Entertainment Weekly

“A potent little mélange of psychological suspense and racial tension… [and a] bucolic but unsettling portrayal of small-town jealousies and greed, class divides and incipient racism… People Like Them seem[s] at times more like a film — lulling and then horrifying the observer in its portrayal of village life gone terribly wrong.” – Los Angeles Times

“An impressive [debut]… The author deftly avoids the easier black and white morality in favor of the much more complex and realistic shades of grey… This is the kind of book that you shouldn’t pick up late at night, because you won’t be putting it down again any time soon. People Like Them is the best kind of compulsive, and will keep you glued to its pages until they’re done.” – Mystery & Suspense

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


China Room by  Sunjeev Sahota

china roomMehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. Married to three brothers in a single ceremony, she and her now-sisters spend their days hard at work in the family’s “china room,” sequestered from contact with the men–except when their domineering mother-in-law, Mai, summons them to a darkened chamber at night. Curious and strong willed, Mehar tries to piece together what Mai doesn’t want her to know. From beneath her veil, she studies the sounds of the men’s voices, the calluses on their fingers as she serves them tea. Soon she glimpses something that seems to confirm which of the brothers is her husband, and a series of events is set in motion that will put more than one life at risk. As the early stirrings of the Indian independence movement rise around her, Mehar must weigh her own desires against the reality–and danger–of her situation.

Spiraling around Mehar’s story is that of a young man who arrives at his uncle’s house in Punjab in the summer of 1999, hoping to shake an addiction that has held him in its grip for more than two years. Growing up in small-town England as the son of an immigrant shopkeeper, his experiences of racism, violence, and estrangement from the culture of his birth led him to seek a dangerous form of escape. As he rides out his withdrawal at his family’s ancestral home–an abandoned farmstead, its china room mysteriously locked and barred–he begins to knit himself back together, gathering strength for the journey home.

Partly inspired by award-winning author Sunjeev Sahota’s family history, China Room is at once a deft exploration of how systems of power circumscribe individual lives and a deeply moving portrait of the unconquerable human capacity to resist them. At once sweeping and intimate, lush and propulsive, it is a stunning achievement from a contemporary master.

Description from Goodreads.

China Room is just as beautiful as it is heart-shattering.” – Apartment Therapy

“[Sahota] is a restrained stylist whose details bloom in the imagination… [there is] respite, even solace, to be found in [his] precise and exhilarating observation.” – Harper’s

“There is a scrupulous subtlety about that way that Sahota refuses to let his historical characters act as though they are in a historical novel… Sahota has demonstrated an ambitious need to adapt the specific and concrete to something less easy to pin down, complete with all the gaps and ruptures that life provides.” – The Guardian

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


Magma by  Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir

magma20-year old Lilja is in love.

As a young university student, she is quickly smitten with the intelligent, beautiful young man from school who quotes Derrida and reads Latin and cooks balanced vegetarian meals. Before she even realizes, she’s moved in with him, living in his cramped apartment, surrounded by sour towels and flat Diet Cokes. As the newfound intimacy of sharing a shower and a bed fuels her desire to please her partner, his acts of nearly imperceptible abuse continue to mount undetected. Lilja desperately tries to be the perfect lover, attempting to meet his every need. But in order to do so, she gradually lets go of her boundaries and starts to lose her sense of self.

With astounding clarity and restraint, Hjörleifsdóttir sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected in romantic relationships. She deftly illustrates the failings of psychiatric systems in recognizing symptoms of cruelty, and in powerful, poetic prose depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted woman desperate to love well.

Description from Goodreads.

“Beautifully spare prose… A powerful excavation of what can go wrong when you love another.” – Literary Hub

“Arresting… The provocative Icelandic poet’s debut novel… urgently explores the challenges and costs of a young woman’s passionate yet toxic relationship.” – TIME

“…unsettling… an achingly plausible mix of verve and bluntness… Throughout, Hjörleifsdóttir’s fresh prose disturbingly evokes the young woman’s unmoored state. The burnished micro-chapters form a narrative necklace of gems.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


Count the Ways by  Joyce Maynard

count the waysAfter falling in love in the last years of the 1970s, Eleanor and Cam follow their dream of raising three children on a New Hampshire farm. Theirs is a seemingly idyllic life of summer softball games and Labor Day cookouts, snow days and skating on the pond. But when a tragic accident permanently injures the family’s youngest child, Eleanor blames Cam. Her inability to forgive him leads to a devastating betrayal: an affair with the family babysitter that brings about the end of their marriage.

Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family—and the many others who make up their world—make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. As we follow the family from the days of illegal abortion and the draft through the early computer age, the Challenger explosion, the AIDS epidemic, the early awakenings of the #MeToo era, and beyond; through the gender transition of one of the children and another’s choice to cease communication with her mother, we witness a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past, and find redemption in the face of unanticipated disaster.

With endearingly flawed characters and a keen eye for detail, Joyce Maynard transforms the territory she knows best—home, family, parenthood, love, and loss—into the stuff of a page-turning thriller. In this achingly beautiful novel, she reminds us how great sorrow and great joy may coexist—and frequently do.

Description from Goodreads.

“Sensitively plumbing the complexity of human emotions, of love and forgiveness, [Maynard] draws readers into a deep, aching attachment to her characters, creating an ultimately hopeful tale just right for this moment.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers will sink into Maynard’s masterful portrait of one woman’s life in this decades-spanning family saga.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The novel bites off a lot—a Brett Kavanaugh–inspired storyline, a domestic abuse situation, a trans child, Eleanor’s career—and manages to resolve them all… Maynard creates a world rich and real enough to hold the pain she fills it with.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook


The Lost and Found Necklace by  Louise Leaman

lost and found necklaceAfter a spate of terrible boyfriends, Jess is sure she’s found her perfect man in dependable – but occasionally dull – Tim. But when her grandmother tasks her with retrieving a family heirloom from a local auction she finds herself face to face with a charming stranger, Guy.

Guy has already bought her grandmother’s precious necklace and whilst Jess desperately tries to buy it back from him, he somehow convinces her to go out on a date instead.

Ridiculous. But Guy has the necklace and Jess’s grandmother’s health is declining rapidly. Jess has no choice but to indulge Guy and go on a date with him – if only to get the necklace back.

But when she and Guy hit it off on their date, Jess’s dependable happily-ever-after is thrown off track…

Description from Goodreads.

“…heartfelt… Readers will be moved from beginning to end.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] gem of a rom-com.” – PopSugar

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook



SUSPENSE



The Therapist by  B.A. Paris ★

therapistWhen Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

Description from Goodreads.

“[The Therapist] evokes the chills of The Stepford Wives. A well-crafted psychological thriller.” – Booklist

“As the story progresses, the reader learns new information, and Alice soon suspects everyone around her as the possible killer. The readers are right there with her wondering who to trust or if anyone is even trustworthy. The plot twist will come as a surprise and keep you flipping through the pages until the very end.” – Mystery & Suspense

“This enthralling book is a mystery, a thriller, and an exploration of how trust—or the lack of it—can color relationships.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…psychological suspense at its best. The story unfolds at a rapid pace, with plenty of rabbit holes to get lost in as you try to to make all of the pieces fit together. It’s a tense read, full of dark secrets, with an overwhelming sense of betrayal.” – Sweat Pants and Coffee

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


Such a Quiet Place by  Megan Miranda ★

such a quiet placeWe had no warning that she’d come back.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

Description from Goodreads.

“Miranda, who makes the setting, where everyone knows one another and ends up fearing one another, all the more chilling for its seeming normality, is a master of misdirection and sudden plot twists, leading up to a wallop of an ending. A powerful, paranoid thriller.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A claustrophobic and suspenseful whodunit… that ponders the eternal question of how well we really know those closest to us.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“…disquieting… The twists keep coming until the very last page. Agatha Christie fans will welcome this 21st-century update on the classic golden age village mystery.” – Publishers Weekly

“The perfect suburban setting; the secretive, quirky neighbors; three unsolved murders; and an Agatha Christie vibe make this whodunit an excellent beach read.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook


The Cellist by  Daniel Silva

cellistViktor Orlov had a longstanding appointment with death. Once Russia’s richest man, he now resides in splendid exile in London, where he has waged a tireless crusade against the authoritarian kleptocrats who have seized control of the Kremlin. His mansion in Chelsea’s exclusive Cheyne Walk is one of the most heavily protected private dwellings in London. Yet somehow, on a rainy summer evening, in the midst of a global pandemic, Russia’s vengeful president finally manages to cross Orlov’s name off his kill list.

Before him was the receiver from his landline telephone, a half-drunk glass of red wine, and a stack of documents…

The documents are contaminated with a deadly nerve agent. The Metropolitan Police determine that they were delivered to Orlov’s home by one of his employees, a prominent investigative reporter from the anti-Kremlin Moskovskaya Gazeta. And when the reporter slips from London hours after the killing, MI6 concludes she is a Moscow Center assassin who has cunningly penetrated Orlov’s formidable defenses.

But Gabriel Allon, who owes his very life to Viktor Orlov, believes his friends in British intelligence are dangerously mistaken. His desperate search for the truth will take him from London to Amsterdam and eventually to Geneva, where a private intelligence service controlled by a childhood friend of the Russian president is using KGB-style “active measures” to undermine the West from within. Known as the Haydn Group, the unit is plotting an unspeakable act of violence that will plunge an already divided America into chaos and leave Russia unchallenged. Only Gabriel Allon, with the help of a brilliant young woman employed by the world’s dirtiest bank, can stop it.

Elegant and sophisticated, provocative and daring, The Cellist explores one of the preeminent threats facing the West today–the corrupting influence of dirty money wielded by a revanchist and reckless Russia. It is at once a novel of hope and a stark warning about the fragile state of democracy. And it proves once again why Daniel Silva is regarded as his generation’s finest writer of suspense and international intrigue.

Description from Goodreads.

“[The] series just keeps getting better and better… There’s twists and turns and enough action to keep the reader engaged throughout the novel.” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


The Seven Doors by  Agnes Ravatn

seven doorsUniversity professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.

When she discovers that she and her husband still own a house she thought had been sold years earlier, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter pay her a visit.

With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.

Exquisitely dark and immensely powerful, The Seven Doors is a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] elegantly plotted and economically executed tale of illicit passion… inexorable fate drives this searing modern take on ancient Greek tragedy.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“With literary references, musical jargon, strong characterization, and a somewhat complex story, the author has written another compelling thriller.” – Fictionophile

“[A] very atmospheric novel… the plot will have the reader looking closely at each of the main characters… A thoroughly engrossing psychological thriller…” – The Last Word Book Review

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook



MYSTERY



The Heathens by  Ace Atkins

heathensBefore he was an Army Ranger who came home to become Tibbehah County Sheriff and take down a corrupt system, Quinn Colson was a kid who got into trouble–a lot of it. So when juvenile delinquent TJ Byrd insists that she doesn’t know who killed her mother–an unreliable addict who has disappeared–Quinn’s inclined to believe her. But no one else does–not the town, not the sheriff in a neighboring county, not her mother’s older boyfriend, and certainly not Quinn’s friend and former deputy, U.S. Marshal Lillie Virgil.

The Byrd family has always been trouble, and sixteen-year-old TJ is known for petty theft, fighting, and general hellraising. She’s also no fool, and when she senses she’s about to take the fall for her mother’s murder, TJ, her boyfriend, her best friend, and her nine-year-old brother go on the run. As Lillie Virgil tracks the kids across a trail of burglaries, stolen cars and even a kidnapping, intent on bringing TJ to justice, Quinn sets out to find the truth back in Tibbehah. Someone has gone to a lot of violent trouble to make TJ and her friends the logical target of the investigation. It’s easy, and who cares about a bunch of lawless kids?

As the bloody evidence against TJ piles up, Quinn knows someone truly evil is at work here–and that puts TJ and her friends in more danger than they can imagine.

Description from Goodreads.

“Exceptional… The diverse cast of characters and their intricate relationships elevate this above most other gritty crime novels. Atkins is writing at the top of his game.” – Publishers Weekly

“A rambunctious road novel… Evoking Edward Anderson’s 1937 country noir Thieves like Us, with a touch of Bonnie and Clyde, Atkins’ hard-edged yet tenderhearted novel will keep readers rooting for TJ and her gang of inadvertent outlaws on the road to the better lives they crave.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A wild chase with walk-on roles for every lowlife from North Mississippi to New Orleans.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Silence in the Library by  Katharine Schellman

silence in the libraryRegency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Description from Goodreads.

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions… More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Refreshing… Fast paced, the characters are believable, the premise is a good one.” – New York Journal of Books

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook



ROMANCE



While We Were Dating by  Jasmine Guillory

while we were datingBen Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…

Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?

But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.

When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

Description from Goodreads.

“This romance will sizzle off the page, and leave you excited for whatever Guillory writes next.” – Real Simple

“The novel introduces thoughtful commentary on mental health, racism and body image issues in Hollywood, while still tying together all the components readers want from a dreamy celebrity romance.” – USA Today

“Guillory has turned many a romance-novel skeptic into a true believer, and her newest release will garner even more converts… [a] charming, sexy love story.” – Elle

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


It Happened One Summer by  Tessa Bailey

it happened one summerPiper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of Schitt’s Creek will love the premise of Bailey’s latest work… [a] sexy, drama-filled love story. It Happened One Summer is another great beach read. Plus, laying out in the sun is a perfect excuse for the blush-inducing scenes scattered throughout.” – USA Today

“Her voice feels as fresh and contemporary as a Netflix rom-com… Bailey writes banter and rom-com scenarios with aplomb, but for those who like their romance on the spicier side, she’s also the Michelangelo of dirty talk. She wields filth like Da Vinci does a paintbrush, and there’s a lot to be said for an author who can fill such exchanges with all the requisite heat, enthusiastic consent, and yes, even humor, of such a scenario without veering into corny territory.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Bailey delivers on her usual trifecta of sharp banter, instant chemistry, and high-heat sex scenes, but they are coupled with intense soul-searching for both Piper and Brendan… Another winning romance from an author at the top of her game.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


It’s Better This Way by  Debbie Macomber

it's better this wayIt’s been nearly six years since Julia Jones had her heart broken. After her husband became involved with another woman, she did everything she could to save their marriage, to no avail. Their two daughters continue to stand by Julia in the wake of their father’s behavior–and they’ve had a tough time getting along with the other woman who became their stepmother. Distraught after selling the family home, Julia moved into a condominium complex that offers the warmth and charm of a fresh start. Now, having settled into her new community and sold her successful interior design business, she’s embraced a fulfilling new life, one that doesn’t seem to need a man in it. Her beloved father’s trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It’s better this way.

But when Julia meets a handsome new resident in the building’s exercise room, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Heath Johnson is a welcome change from the men she’s encountered on the occasional–mostly disastrous–dates her sister has eagerly planned for her over the years. As she and Heath, a divorcé himself, begin to grow close, their friendship blossoms into a love neither of them had expected. However, they soon realize that combining families, even with four adult children, presents inevitable challenges.

When a dramatic revelation threatens the happiness they’ve found, Julia and Heath must reconcile their love for their children with their love for each other. If they can’t, their bright future together may be nothing but a dream.

Description from Goodreads.

“Bestseller Macomber wows with this heartwarming romance between middle-aged divorcées… Macomber keeps her well-shaded, believable characters at the heart of this seamlessly plotted novel as she probes the nuances of familial relationships and the agelessness of romance. This deeply emotional tale proves it’s never too late for love.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“This is another great character-driven novel [that] shows that life goes on after divorce…” – Red Carpet Crash

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook



SCI-FI & FANTASY



A Psalm for the Wild-Built by  Becky Chambers ★

psalm for the wild-builtIt’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

Description from Goodreads.

“A joyful experience and, as with all of Chambers’s books, I was left with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.” – New Scientist

“The first book in Chambers’ new series feels like a moment to breathe, a novel that exists to give readers a place to rest and think… Recommended for fans of Chambers’ Wayfarers series and The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Written with all of Chambers’ characteristic nuance and careful thought, this is a cozy, wholesome meditation on the nature of consciousness and its place in the natural world. Fans of gentle, smart, and hopeful science fiction will delight in this promising series starter.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



NONFICTION



Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by  Kristen Radtke ★

seek youThere is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns.

In Seek You, Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.

Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.

Description from Goodreads.

“Rarely has nonfiction been as topical as in Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of loneliness… Radtke expertly traces the cultural origins of loneliness… posing the question: what, specifically, do we lose—as individuals, and as a society—when we turn inward?” – Vogue

“This stunning book is less a memoir than a long graphic essay, more a meditation and less a solution. How we disconnect may help us understand how to ultimately connect.” – Washington Post

Seek You is the kind of post-pandemic narrative we’ve been waiting for. It’s sad, profound, and shows a superb understanding of the variety of ways in which we process trauma and isolation… [It] might just be what we all need to start truly processing the loneliness we’ve been through.” – NPR

“Gorgeous… A genre-bending work that lays bare both the costs and benefits of solitude.” – Oprah Daily

Available Formats:

eBook


Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship by  Catherine Raven ★

fox and iCatherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive father and an indifferent mother. Drawn to the natural world, for years she worked as a ranger in National Parks, at times living in her run-down car (which lacked a reverse gear), on abandoned construction sites, or camping on a piece of land in Montana she bought from a colleague. She managed to put herself through college and then graduate school, eventually earning a Ph.D. in biology.

Yet she never felt at home with people, and though she worked at various universities and taught field classes in the National Parks, she built a house on a remote plot of land in Montana and, except when teaching, spoke to no one. One day, she realized that the fox who had been appearing at her house was coming by every day at 4:15. He became a regular visitor, who eventually sat near her as she read to him from The Little Prince or Dr. Seuss. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself—and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.

Though this is a story of survival, it is also a poignant and dramatic tale of living in the wilderness and coping with inevitable loss. This uplifting fable-like true story about the friendship of a woman and a wild fox not only reveals the power of friendship and our interconnectedness with the natural world but is an original, imaginative, and beautiful work that introduces a stunning new voice.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] book everyone will be talking about… [A] real-life friendship that mirrors the one between Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince and his fox, full of tenderness and understanding.” – New York Times

“Entrancing… Raven’s gorgeous account of her bond with a fox while living in a remote cabin will open readers’ eyes to the ways humans connect to the natural world and vice versa… If there’s one book you pick up this summer, make it this one.” – Washington Post

“It’s a familiar story arc: human becomes best friends with a wild animal and life lessons are learned. Yet in biologist and former Glacier National Park ranger Catherine Raven’s hands, the story―of isolation and tender friendship with a wild fox―feels new…Her memoir reminds us that connection to the natural world comes in many forms.” – TIME

“A heartfelt meditation on the power of nature and a touching homage to a beloved wild friend.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book


An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by  Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang ★

Sumbooks20Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech.

The company, many said, had simply lost its way. But the truth is far more complex. Leadership decisions enabled, and then attempted to deflect attention from, the crises. Time after time, Facebook’s engineers were instructed to create tools that encouraged people to spend as much time on the platform as possible, even as those same tools boosted inflammatory rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and partisan filter bubbles. And while consumers and lawmakers focused their outrage on privacy breaches and misinformation, Facebook solidified its role as the world’s most voracious data-mining machine, posting record profits, and shoring up its dominance via aggressive lobbying efforts.

Drawing on their unrivaled sources, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: The missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability—this is how Facebook was built to perform. In a period of great upheaval, growth has remained the one constant under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Both have been held up as archetypes of uniquely 21st century executives—he the tech “boy genius” turned billionaire, she the ultimate woman in business, an inspiration to millions through her books and speeches. But sealed off in tight circles of advisers and hobbled by their own ambition and hubris, each has stood by as their technology is coopted by hate-mongers, criminals and corrupt political regimes across the globe, with devastating consequences. In An Ugly Truth, they are at last held accountable.

Description from Goodreads.

“Frenkel and Kang faced the challenge of unearthing new and interesting material about one of the most heavily debated communication tools of our modern age. More than 400 interviews later, they’ve produced the ultimate takedown via careful, comprehensive interrogation of every major Facebook scandal. An Ugly Truth provides the kind of satisfaction you might get if you hired a private investigator to track a cheating spouse: It confirms your worst suspicions and then gives you all the dates and details you need to cut through the company’s spin… By weaving all those threads together, and adding new reporting from high-level meetings in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., the authors manage to effectively examine the shortcomings in the company’s leadership, structure and accountability. The book connects the internal drama and decision-making at Facebook with what we have all experienced on the outside.” – New York Times Book Review

“…compelling… fascinating… Students of corporate leadership will long examine the Zuckerberg-Sandberg relationship and how he relied on her business savvy but later crowded her out of key areas… Users of Facebook will better understand how they’re being manipulated — maybe they should be called ‘usees’ — and the extent to which anyone is looking out for their interests…” – Washington Post

“…ambitious… The authors have produced a valuable record of what went wrong, when, where, why, specifically in the last five years.” – CNN

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook


The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by  Dean Jobb

case of the murderous dr. cream“When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.”

In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”

Description from Goodreads.

“True crime fans will want to pick up Dean Jobb’s engrossing account of Thomas Neill Cream… Jobb builds Cream’s world in vivid, transportive detail; I had a lot of fun being swept away.” – BuzzFeed

“Jobb’s extensive research pays off in a true crime masterpiece that will easily sit alongside The Devil in the White City.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Jobb captures the hypocrisy, class differences, and gender inequality of the times in an extensively researched non-fiction telling of the forgotten nineteenth century serial killer Dr. Thomas Neill Cream… Both grim and hard to put down.” – Southern Bookseller Review

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


What Is a Dog?: A Memoir by  Chloe Shaw

what is a dogChloe Shaw is in a dog house of her own choosing. A married mother with kids, the death of Booker, her children’s eldest family pet, has left her reeling and reckoning with her lifelong relationship with dogs. Unable to shake the feeling a year later, she asks her family for some time alone to be with nothing but her thoughts and remaining canines, Safari and Otter—only to find the dogs of her past pawing at her every memory and running, sticks in mouths, back into her life.

What follows is a meditation on one woman’s life through the dogs she’s loved and lost. Since she was a child, Shaw had learned to escape the hardest parts of being human by immersing herself in the lives of her canine companions, an adaptive attachment that carried her to adulthood. Yet, in marriage and motherhood, Shaw finds herself facing her most human struggles yet. Her old ways of “being the dog” in the face of hardship prove destructive, and it’s not until she’s able to love herself and learn from the dogs of her past and present that she can truly thrive as a person, and show up for the family who needs her to be their person.

With artful prose and a philosophical touch, Shaw takes us on an emotional journey anyone who has ever loved and lost a dog will connect with—and discovers dogs do more than just make our lives better—they quietly (and sometimes loudly) pull us boldly toward the person we were always meant to be.

Description from Goodreads.

“Shaw, mourning the death of a beloved canine companion, looks to the dogs of her past to understand how they added to her life. Her section on ‘being the dog’ in relationships is unlike anything you’ve read about our four-legged friends.” – Washington Post

“This poignant and gracefully written memoir amply embraces the complexities of the human-dog relationship in a uniquely personal way, and it’s also a moving story of self-acceptance. A dog lover’s warmhearted delight.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Shaw’s language is lyrical and contemplative, whether relating small moments of intimacy or big feelings. This is a quiet, heartfelt, and memorable work that cuts right to the quick of the unique bond between dogs and their people… ‘What is a dog?’ she asks, ‘Maybe a dog is a second chance.’ And lucky for us humans, and much like those ever-forgiving canines, we get those second chances again, and again, and again.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book



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