“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So ★
Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.
A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle’s snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a “safe space” app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.
With nuanced emotional precision, gritty humor, and compassionate insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities, the stories in Afterparties deliver an explosive introduction to the work of Anthony Veasna So.
“Afterparties has staked its claim as a 2021 title not to be missed.” – Harper’s Bazaar
“One of the most exciting contributions to Asian American literature in recent years… These stories are funny without being satirical, refreshingly realist, and generous in their levity.” – Vulture
“This is a collection that will stop you in your tracks… Afterparties feels like its own complete place, with loosely linked stories and side characters disappearing from the pages only to resurface center-stage in the next piece; it’s a neighborhood you come to know and love.” – Literary Hub
“An electrifying, raucous debut collection of stories, Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties feels clandestine and tingly, like a secret told to you by your very best friend—the one who always has the best gossip, and knows how to make you laugh so hard you cry.” – Refinery29
“So (1992–2020) conjures literary magic in his hilarious and insightful posthumous debut, a collection that delves into a tightly knit community of Cambodian-American immigrants in California’s Central Valley… After this immersive introduction to the Central Valley community, readers won’t want to leave.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette ★
Agatha has lived every day of the last nine years with her sisters: they work together, laugh together, pray together. Their world is contained within the little house they share. The four of them are devoted to Mother Roberta and to their quiet, purposeful life.
But when the parish goes broke, the sisters are forced to move. They land in Woonsocket, a former mill town now dotted with wind turbines. They head up a halfway house, where they live alongside castoffs like the jawless Tim Gary and the headstrong Lawnmower Jill. Agatha is forced to venture out into the world alone, to teach math at a local all-girls high school, where for the first time in years she will have to reckon with what she sees and feels all on her own. Who will she be if she isn’t with her sisters? These women, the church, have been her home–or has she just been hiding?
Disarming, delightfully deadpan, and full of searching, Claire Luchette’s Agatha of Little Neon offers a view into the lives of women and the choices they make. It is a novel about female friendship and devotion, the roles made available to us, and how we become ourselves.
“Sublime… A literary version of Sister Act by way of Wes Anderson.” – O, the Oprah Magazine
“I never knew I needed a book about four Catholic sisters reassigned to a neon-painted halfway house in a former mill town, but reader, I did… Luchette’s writing is both wry and earnest, which might be my favorite combination.” – Literary Hub
“Written in a bracing, acerbic, and darkly comic tenor, [Agatha of Little Neon] is a surprisingly buoyant and fast-paced read, a modern and sly spin on the meaning of devotion.” – Vogue
“An enchanting, sparkling book about the many meanings of sisterhood, Claire Luchette’s Agatha of Little Neon is an effervescent treat of a novel, a reminder that there are many different ways in which we protect ourselves from the world without actually confronting what it is that makes us vulnerable.” – Refinery29
All’s Well by Mona Awad ★
Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised, and cost, her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.
That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.
With prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged… genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.
“Awad is a dark genius, preternaturally gifted at creating vicious, hilarious tales about the depravity inside us… A wicked mash-up about opioid addiction, Bard nerds, Faustian deals, and a cursed play? Yes, please.” – Vulture
“A brilliant noir comedy about art and illness… Awad’s characters are deliciously over the top and impossible to forget, as is the author’s gift for morbid humor… Endlessly thought-provoking and not to be missed.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Imagine Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter traipsing through the dreamy creepiness of fairy tales while giving Shakespeare tips on female narratives.” – Toronto Star
“A darkly hilarious journey into the psyche of a woman approaching her breaking point.” – Time
Billy Summers by Stephen King ★
Fiction / Suspense.
Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?
How about everything.
“King’s latest endeavor begins with a familiar premise: decorated veteran Billy Summers, a principled hit man on the eve of retirement, agrees to do one last job. Things go south in spectacularly bad fashion, making for a characteristically King thriller about luck, fate, and redemption. To see the undisputed master of horror shift into the realm of noir thrillers is proof that King can still surprise and astound us, all these decades later.” – Esquire
“King has multiple novels in play here—thriller, at least two coming-of-age stories, and a knockout road novel—and he knits them together beautifully, never missing a stitch… King has never been better than he is here at wrapping readers into a propulsive, many-tentacled narrative—complete with a perfectly orchestrated, moving ending.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“[A] tripwire-taut thriller… King meticulously lays out the details of Billy’s trade, his Houdini-style escapes, and his act to look simpler than he is, but the novel’s main strength is a story within a story… This is another outstanding outing from a writer who consistently delivers more than his readers expect.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller… Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
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Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown
Fiction / Historical Fiction / Romantic Suspense.
Thatcher Hutton, a war-weary soldier on the way back to his cowboy life, jumps from a moving freight train to avoid trouble… and lands in more than he bargained for. On the day he arrives in Foley, Texas, a local woman goes missing. Thatcher, the only stranger in town, is suspected of her abduction, and worse. Standing between him and exoneration are a corrupt mayor, a crooked sheriff, a notorious cathouse madam, a sly bootlegger, feuding moonshiners… and a young widow whose soft features conceal an iron will.
What was supposed to be a fresh start for Laurel Plummer turns to tragedy. Left destitute but determined to dictate her own future, Laurel plunges into the lucrative regional industry, much to the dislike of the good ol’ boys, who have ruled supreme. Her success quickly makes her a target for cutthroat competitors, whose only code of law is reprisal. As violence erupts, Laurel and—now deputy—Thatcher find themselves on opposite sides of a moonshine war, where blood flows as freely as whiskey.
“Set in 1920, this superior thriller from bestseller Brown firmly anchors all the action in the plot… Laurel and Thatcher are strong and inventive characters, and their surprising decisions and evolving relationship will keep readers engaged. Brown shows why she remains in the top rank of her field.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Brown doesn’t often delve into historical fiction territory, but she does here with gusto, and readers will practically taste the dusty streets of Foley and feel every rickety bump of the moonshiners’ trucks. There are shoot-outs and reformed prostitutes and a no-good hillbilly family, but none of it feels like an empty stereotype—it’s just all a lot of fun. Combined with Brown’s knack for romantic tension and page-turning suspense, this one is a winner.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Sandra Brown has written another great novel as only Sandra can write. Great characters, lots of action and masterfully written like she was there during that time. A great summer read.” – Red Carpet Crash
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka
Fiction / Suspense.
Nanao, nicknamed Lady Bird—the self-proclaimed “unluckiest assassin in the world”—boards a bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with one simple task: grab a suitcase and get off at the next stop. Unbeknownst to him, the deadly duo Tangerine and Lemon are also after the very same suitcase—and they are not the only dangerous passengers onboard. Satoshi, “the Prince,” with the looks of an innocent schoolboy and the mind of a viciously cunning psychopath, is also in the mix and has history with some of the others. Risk fuels him as does a good philosophical debate… like, is killing really wrong? Chasing the Prince is another assassin with a score to settle for the time the Prince casually pushed a young boy off of a roof, leaving him comatose.
When the five assassins discover they are all on the same train, they realize their missions are not as unrelated as they first appear.
A massive bestseller in Japan, Bullet Train is an original and propulsive thriller that fizzes with an incredible energy and surprising humor as its complex net of double-crosses and twists unwind. Award-winning author Kotaro Isaka takes readers on a tension packed journey as the bullet train hurtles toward its final destination. Who will make it off the train alive—and what awaits them at the last stop?
“[An] action thriller with entertaining and original characters, knockabout black comedy and a plot as fast-moving as the express train from Tokyo to Morioka on which the action takes place.” – The Times
“Part high-octane thriller, part farce, and laced with philosophical and literary debates, this is an unusual and thoroughly enjoyable read.” – The Guardian
“Set on a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Morioka (and soon to be a movie starring Brad Pitt), this impressive thriller from Japanese author Isaka races along, like the eponymous train, at a frenetic pace… Isaka keeps the suspense high throughout. Fans of intricate action fiction will be enthralled.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara ★
Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery.
Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the US government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled two thousand miles away in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family’s reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train.
Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose’s death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth.
Inspired by historical events, Clark and Division infuses an atmospheric and heartbreakingly real crime fiction plot with rich period details and delicately wrought personal stories Naomi Hirahara has gleaned from thirty years of research and archival work in Japanese American history.
“Crime fiction is at its best when telling a compelling story while also analyzing the shadowy foundations of human nature. Very few writers do that better than Hirahara.” – Washington Post
“Clark and Division is as much about communal trauma as it is about the anguish of the Ito family, who are at the story’s center. The grief of the Japanese community in Chicago infuses the atmosphere of this novel, offering a compelling, nuanced tale of loss.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW
“Deeply researched… Hirahara peppers the mystery with a detail-rich portrait of Chicago during the war and of newly arrived Japanese Americans trying to negotiate a largely hostile new world.” – Booklist
“Beautifully written and deeply moving… Hirahara’s novel is an accomplished and important story about a time in American history that I felt privileged bearing witness to.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson ★
Fiction / Historical Fiction.
For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has chopped a livelihood out of the redwood forest along California’s rugged coast. Now Rich and his wife, Colleen, are raising their own young son near Damnation Grove, a swath of ancient redwoods on which Rich’s employer, Sanderson Timber Co., plans to make a killing. In 1977, with most of the forest cleared or protected, a grove like Damnation—and beyond it 24-7 Ridge—is a logger’s dream.
It’s dangerous work. Rich has already lived decades longer than his father, killed on the job. Rich wants better for his son, Chub, so when the opportunity arises to buy 24-7 Ridge—costing them all the savings they’ve squirreled away for their growing family—he grabs it, unbeknownst to Colleen. Because the reality is their family isn’t growing; Colleen has lost several pregnancies. And she isn’t alone. As a midwife, Colleen has seen it with her own eyes.
For decades, the herbicides the logging company uses were considered harmless. But Colleen is no longer so sure. What if these miscarriages aren’t isolated strokes of bad luck? As mudslides take out clear-cut hillsides and salmon vanish from creeks, her search for answers threatens to unravel not just Rich’s plans for the 24-7, but their marriage too, dividing a town that lives and dies on timber along the way.
Told from the perspectives of Rich, Colleen, and Chub, in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, this intimate, compassionate portrait of a community clinging to a vanishing way of life amid the perils of environmental degradation makes Damnation Spring an essential novel for our time.
“Pitch perfect… an unforgettable portrait of the very real consequences that environmental decay can hold, for nature and humanity alike.” – Vogue
“If you’re jonesing for a big family saga, Ash Davidson’s debut will do the trick. Damnation Spring tackles major issues with authentic rage and grief.” – Los Angeles Times
“[An] ambitious, assured debut… a devastating page-turner with a love story at its center.” – Literary Hub
“There is so much that is right and particular about this novel. Rarely will a reader have such a tactile experience of life in a forest logging community as one receives here. Davidson also sensitively portrays the fraught relationship between the Indigenous tribe of Yuroks and the white members of the logging community. Here, all politics are local: It slowly dawns on Colleen that herbicides, sprayed to help the logging industry, hurt babies; and the unethical owner of the timber company is a flawed and greedy local guy, not a corporate mover on Wall Street. Davidson was born in Arcata, California, just south of the redwood forest she writes about in Damnation Spring. She’s studied the lay of the land, and she expresses the heart and soul of this place and time.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW
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Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens
Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.
The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to five hundred miles through British Columbia’s rugged wilderness to the west coast. Isolated and vast, it has become a prime hunting ground for predators. For decades, young women traveling the road have gone missing. Motorists and hitchhikers, those passing through or living in one of the small towns scattered along the region, have fallen prey time and again. And no killer or abductor who has stalked the highway has ever been brought to justice.
Hailey McBride calls Cold Creek home. Her father taught her to respect nature, how to live and survive off the land, and to never travel the highway alone. Now he’s gone, leaving her a teenage orphan in the care of her aunt whose police officer husband uses his badge as a means to bully and control Hailey. Overwhelmed by grief and forbidden to work, socialize, or date, Hailey vanishes into the mountainous terrain, hoping everyone will believe she’s left town. Rumors spread that she was taken by the highway killer—who’s claimed another victim over the summer.
One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek, where her sister Amber lived—and where she was murdered. Estranged from her parents and seeking closure, Beth takes a waitressing job at the local diner, just as Amber did, desperate to understand what happened to her and why. But Beth’s search for answers puts a target on her back—and threatens to reveal the truth behind Hailey’s disappearance…
“…harrowing… better-written and more entertaining than most thrillers out this year.” – We Live Entertainment
“…exciting… Clever twists… Stevens remains a writer to watch.” – Publishers Weekly
“This one does not disappoint… a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that rarely gave me time to relax and breathe.” – Mystery & Suspense
Down Range by Taylor Moore
Fiction / Suspense.
As a decorated undercover DEA special agent, Garrett Kohl has traveled the world—and fought in most of it—but it’s the High Plains of northwest Texas he calls home and dreams of returning to one day. Kohl is in the middle of an assignment in Afghanistan when his commander orders him back to Texas on a short mission expected to take a week at most. But he’s unsettled to discover that he’s moved from one kind of war to another.
The once-peaceful ranching community he loves is under attack by a band of criminals who have infiltrated law enforcement, corrupted local businesses, and is now terrorizing Kohl’s own family. Hoping to prevent bloodshed, Kohl tries to resolve matters peacefully. But when the group strikes first, he has no choice but to go on the attack.
Unfortunately for the criminal crew, besides being an elite undercover officer for the DEA, Garrett Kohl is a battle-hardened Green Beret who spent the better part of his career hunting terrorists. Although outnumbered and outgunned, Kohl knows the wild and forsaken Llano Estacado region of Texas better than anyone. And like so many trespassers before them, these murderers will find out the hard way that the only thing tougher than this land is the people who call it home.
“[A] strong debut… Things culminate in an exciting, Texas-style showdown between Kohl’s family, cartel sicarios, and a host of other bad actors. Fans of J. Todd Scott and C. J. Box will want to check out this propulsive, character-driven thriller.” – Publishers Weekly
“Delivers both a compelling story and a vivid portrait of the landscape of the High Plains of Texas… Moore has written a tense and irresistible thriller that fans of C. J. Box and the military action novels of Brad Taylor will savor. The chaos mixes well with a stellar panorama.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“A series worth watching.” – Booklist
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A Gingerbread House by Catriona McPherson
Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.
An invitation you can’t refuse. You should…
When shy, lonely Ivy meets a woman who claims to be her long-lost sister, she knows it’s too good to be true. She decides to trust Kate anyway. She wants a family. She wants someone to love. She’s making a mistake.
Ivy enters Kate’s Scottish fairytale cottage… and she doesn’t come out. She’s the first to go missing. She won’t be the last.
“…unsettling…” – Publishers Weekly
“A disturbing story of madness and fortitude that grabs your attention from Page 1.” – Kirkus Reviews
“The ending is both satisfying and hugely chilling – it made me shiver, and I can’t wait for you to find out what happens too! If you like twisty psychological thrillers by the likes of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty, you’ll love A Gingerbread House.” – Severn House
The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II by Major General Mari K. Eder
Nonfiction / History.
The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about. These women who did extraordinary things didn’t expect thanks and shied away from medals and recognition. Despite their amazing accomplishments, they’ve gone mostly unheralded and unrewarded. No longer. These are the women of World War II who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen–in and out of uniform.
Liane B. Russell fled Austria with nothing and later became a renowned U.S. scientist whose research on the effects of radiation on embryos made a difference to thousands of lives. Gena Turgel was a prisoner who worked in the hospital at Bergen-Belsen and cared for the young Anne Frank, who was dying of typhus. Gena survived and went on to write a memoir and spent her life educating children about the Holocaust. Ida and Louise Cook were British sisters who repeatedly smuggled out jewelry and furs and served as sponsors for refugees, and they also established temporary housing for immigrant families in London.
Retired U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder wrote this book because she knew their stories needed to be told–and the sooner the better. For theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.
“This brisk and informative survey is a worthy tribute to the trailblazing women of WWII.” – Publishers Weekly
“Inspiring stories of women warriors who deserve greater attention.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Eder’s engaging writing makes these compelling histories read like a suspense novel. A highly recommended account that will draw in readers of U.S. history and women’s history.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell: Stories by Brian Evenson
Fiction / Horror.
“Here is how monstrous humans are.”
A sentient, murderous prosthetic leg; shadowy creatures lurking behind a shimmering wall; brutal barrow men: of all the terrors that populate The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, perhaps the most alarming are the beings who decimated the habitable Earth: humans.
In this new short story collection, Brian Evenson envisions a chilling future beyond the Anthropocene that forces excruciating decisions about survival and self-sacrifice in the face of toxic air and a natural world torn between revenge and regeneration. Combining psychological and ecological horror, each tale thrums with Evenson’s award-winning literary craftsmanship, dark humor, and thrilling suspense.
“[A] towering collection of nightmarish horror, sci-fi parables, and weird tales… ‘Once I take you there,’ ends another story, ‘you’ll have a hard time dragging yourself away.’ The same could be said of Evenson’s unforgettable work, drawn from the darkest corners of the imagination and nearly impossible to forget.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Evenson is one of our greatest contemporary writers of literary horror; I’m always psyched—and a little afraid—when he has a new book out.” – Literary Hub
“Brian Evenson has long been one of the best-kept secrets in literary horror circles, his work whispered about with the kind of fervent adoration more typically enjoyed by the likes of Stephen King. This new collection seems poised to break him out even bigger, with stories that feel at once ripped from today’s apocalyptic headlines and sourced from the darkest corners of our collective imagination. Short fiction fans of any genre shouldn’t miss it.” – Chicago Review of Books
Here, Right Matters: An American Story by Alexander Vindman
Nonfiction / Politics / Memoir.
0900, Thursday, July 25, 2019: President Trump called Ukraine’s President Zelensky, supposedly to congratulate him on his recent victory. In the months that followed, the American public would only learn what happened on that call because Alexander Vindman felt duty-bound to report it up the chain of command: that the President of the United States had extorted a foreign ally to damage a political challenger at home. Vindman’s actions and subsequent testimony before congress would lead to Trump’s impeachment and affirm Vindman’s belief that he had done the right thing in the face of intense pressure to stay silent. But it would come at an enormous cost, straining relationships with colleagues, superiors, and even his own father, and eventually end his decorated career in the US Army, by a Trump administration intent on retribution.
Here, Right Matters is Vindman’s proud, passionate, and candid account of his family, his career, and the moment of truth he faced for his nation. As an immigrant, raised by a father who fled the Soviet Union in pursuit of a better life for his children, Vindman learned about respect for truth throughout his education and military service. As this memoir makes clear, his decision to speak up about the July 25th call was never a choice: it was Vindman’s duty, as a naturalized citizen and member of the armed forces. In the wake of his testimony, he would endure furious partisan attacks on his record and his loyalty. But far louder was the extraordinary chorus of support from citizens who were collectively intent on reaffirming an abiding American commitment to integrity.
In the face of a sure-fire career derailment and public excoriation, Vindman heeded the lessons from the people and institutions who instilled in him the moral compass and the courage to act decisively. Like so many other American immigrant families, the Vindmans had to learn to build a life from scratch and take big risks to achieve important goals. Here, Right Matters is about the quiet heroes who keep us safe; but, above all, it is a call to arms for those who refuse to let America betray its true self.
“…compelling… the story of an ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances who did the right thing.” – New York Times
Her Heart for a Compass by Sarah Ferguson with Marguerite Kaye
Fiction / Historical Fiction / Romance.
Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Margaret is an impulsive and outspoken girl in a repressive society where women are, quite literally, caged in corsets and required to conform.
When Lady Margaret’s parents arrange a society marriage for her, she tries to reconcile herself to the match. But shortly before her betrothal is announced, Margaret flees, leaving her parents to explain her sudden absence to an opulent ballroom stuffed with two hundred distinguished guests.
Banished from polite society, Margaret throws herself into charitable work and finds strength in a circle of female friends like herself—women intent on breaking the mold, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise. Margaret resolves to follow her heart—a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain where she finds the life she was always meant to lead.
A bold and thoughtful story about a rebellious woman finding herself and her voice in an age of astounding technological change and great social unrest, Her Heart for a Compass is a delicious costume drama rich in atmosphere, history, and color.
“…endearing…” – The Independent
“Captivating… A debut historical novel of thought-provoking escapism. The pages turn swiftly.” – Booklist
“…well-researched, and a glimpse into the strictures of life as a pampered, rich, upper-class woman. It wears its research lightly, with intriguing forays into topics such as Victorian bathing dresses, and the Queen’s predilection to ‘pour her tea from one cup to another until it was adequately cooled’.” – The Guardian
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Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger
Fiction / Science Fiction / Suspense.
Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut. She graduated at the top of her class from the Naval Academy, had a successful career flying fighter jets, and has spent more than three hundred days in space. So when she refuses to leave her post aboard the International Space Station following an accident that forces her fellow astronauts to evacuate, her American and Russian colleagues are mystified. For Walli, the matter at hand feels all too clear and terrifying for her to be worried about ruining her career. She is stuck in a race against time to save a part of the world that seems to have been forgotten, and also the life of the person she loves the most. She will go to any length necessary, using the only tool she has, to accomplish what she knows is right.
“[An] action-packed thriller of a novel.” – Time
“Just terrific… readers will be flipping the pages as fast as they can to find out what happens next.” – Booklist
“Kluger smoothly covers the technical aspects of life on the ISS and neatly contrasts international cooperation in space with conflict back on Earth. Readers who enjoyed Kluger’s depiction of the Apollo 13 rescue effort will appreciate the reciprocity of a rescue of Earth from space.” – Publishers Weekly
The Hunter and the Old Woman by Pamela Korgemagi
The “Old Woman” lives in the wild, searching for food, raising her cubs, and avoiding the two-legged creatures who come into her territory. But she is more than an animal — she is a mythic creature who haunts the lives and the dreams of men.
Joseph Brandt has been captivated by the mountain lion’s legend since childhood, and one day he steps into the forest to seek her out.
A classic in the making, The Hunter and the Old Woman is a mesmerizing portrait of two animals united by a shared destiny.
“… eerily beautiful…” – Indiebound
“The parallel fates of these fully drawn characters, The Hunter and The Old Woman, feel intimate and urgent.” – Literary Hub
“Gentle and distressing, soothing and fierce, and a look forward and backward simultaneously, Korgemagi takes the readers into a feral, changing realm that is cruelly no longer available to most. In this time of pandemic, with so many of us cooped up in concrete, some days unable or unwilling to leave our homes, The Hunter and the Old Woman opens up a green, green world.” – Quill & Quire
The Husbands by Chandler Baker
Fiction / Suspense.
Nora Spangler is a successful attorney but when it comes to domestic life, she packs the lunches, schedules the doctor appointments, knows where the extra paper towel rolls are, and designs and orders the holiday cards. Her husband works hard, too… but why does it seem like she is always working so much harder?
When the Spanglers go house hunting in Dynasty Ranch, an exclusive suburban neighborhood, Nora meets a group of high-powered women–a tech CEO, a neurosurgeon, an award-winning therapist, a bestselling author–with enviably supportive husbands. When she agrees to help with a resident’s wrongful death case, she is pulled into the lives of the women there. She finds the air is different in Dynasty Ranch. The women aren’t hanging on by a thread.
But as the case unravels, Nora uncovers a plot that may explain the secret to having-it-all. One that’s worth killing for. Calling to mind a Stepford Wives gender-swap, The Husbands imagines a world where the burden of the “second shift” is equally shared–and what it may take to get there.
“Baker uses Nora’s relatable sense of being overwhelmed to stoke suspense in this dark exploration of modern family dynamics. A prime choice for book groups.” – Booklist
“The Husbands is a howl of feminist rage but also one that is pure fun.” – Stylist UK
“…a delightfully cutting romp. A perpetually timely page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews
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If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy ★
Fiction / Romance.
After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.
Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.
“In Murphy’s breezy and fun rom-com, there’s enough of Cinderella in the story to be charming, yet overall it sparkles like an exciting new tale. Cindy is immensely lovable, and readers will root for all her dreams to come true. Murphy brings the wit, sensitivity, and imagination that has made her a YA star to the start of her adult romance Meant to Be series.” – Booklist
“[An] inventive Cinderella retelling, Murphy cleverly blends the conventions of fairy tales and reality TV to create an incisive commentary on both… readers interested in a smart exploration of the intersection of romance and reality TV will be overjoyed.” – Publishers Weekly
“…Murphy’s writing magic transcends genres… Murphy introduces a refreshingly real and relatable protagonist in Cindy Woods… Murphy delivers a powerhouse love story and all-important message about self-acceptance and empowerment in If The Shoe Fits.” – Nerds and Beyond
“If the Shoe Fits is a confident, modern and magical romance that starts the Meant to Be series on the right foot.” – BookPage
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead
Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.
Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.
But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.
Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession, and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is an addictive, propulsive read you won’t be able to put down.
“[A] captivating debut… Winstead does an expert job keeping the reader guessing whodunit. Suspense fans will eagerly await her next.” – Publishers Weekly
“A twisty, dark puzzle… Fans of books such as The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl will find this book captivating, as will anyone who enjoys being led down a winding, frightening path. Highly recommended.” – New York Journal of Books
“Packed with intrigue, scandal, and enough twists and turns to match Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, this is a solid psychological-thriller debut.” – Booklist
The Knight’s Tale by M.J. Trow
Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery.
April, 1380. About to set off on his annual pilgrimage, Comptroller of the King’s Woollens and court poet Geoffrey Chaucer is forced to abandon his plans following an appeal for help from an old friend. The Duke of Clarence, Chaucer’s former guardian, has been found dead in his bed at his Suffolk castle, his bedroom door locked and bolted from the inside. The man who found him, Sir Richard Glanville, suspects foul play and has asked Chaucer to investigate.
On arrival at Clare Castle, Chaucer finds his childhood home rife with bitter rivalries, ill-advised love affairs and dangerous secrets. As he questions the castle’s inhabitants, it becomes clear that more than one member of the Duke’s household had reason to wish him ill. But who among them is a cold-hearted killer? It’s up to Chaucer, with his sharp wits and eye for detail, to root out the evil within.
“…excellent… Trow brings medieval England fully to life through well-chosen period detail, but the novel’s main strength is its portrait of Chaucer, a rather rueful figure, nostalgic for his youth, who, being overweight, worries about falling off his horse. His intelligence, kindness, and insights into human nature serve him well in his efforts to catch a killer. Readers will hope to see a lot more of him in his role as sleuth.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Trow, whose Kit Marlowe stories have proven his ability to make historic characters feel contemporary and relatable, drops names like Becket, Canterbury, and John of Gaunt as if they were modern celebrities and gives his second-string historic characters vivid personalities… A series kickoff that augurs well for more juicy Chaucer escapades.” – Kirkus Reviews
Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Fiction / Mystery.
Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.
Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?
Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.
“Vividly realized… Gorgeously rendered… A story full of subtle surprises… This is a stunner.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Suspenseful and poignant… [Inti’s] story unfolds as a meditation on the social and scientific consequences of influencing ecosystems, while reminding us that humans and animals alike can break our hearts.” – Scientific American
“Intense, emotional and rich with beautifully rendered prose, McConaghy’s novel is a powerful meditation on humanity, nature and the often frightening animalistic impulses lurking within us all… Another triumph for a rising fiction star, offering an intensely realized world for readers to get lost in.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW
The People We Keep by Allison Larkin
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo’s diner, she’s left fending for herself in a town where she’s never quite felt at home. When she “borrows” her neighbor’s car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good, setting off on a journey to find a life that’s all hers.
As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn’t dictate who she has to be.
This lyrical, unflinching tale is for anyone who has ever yearned for the fierce power of found family or to grasp the profound beauty of choosing to belong.
“Music and the generosity of strangers provide healing in Larkin’s emotionally expansive latest… the supporting characters feel authentic, as does the sometimes harrowing depiction of April’s life as a young woman traveling and performing solo night after night. This hopeful story will move readers.” – Publishers Weekly
“Larkin has created a memorable character in April, whose journey toward belonging and self-acceptance will resonate with readers. The depiction of the mid-1990s is pitch-perfect and will invoke feelings of nostalgia, especially in Gen Xers who came of age during this era. Fans of Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl will enjoy traveling alongside April.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“The People We Keep is intimate, urgent and direct; April’s first-person voice is magnetic, compelling… This is a novel of great empathy, about connections and coming of age, built families and self-acceptance. It contains heartbreak and redemption, and a plucky, irresistible protagonist… [A] propulsive, empathetic novel.” – Shelf Awareness
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.
Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.
When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list…hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again.
“A quietly beautiful novel about the magic of books and the joy of human connection.” – Newsweek
“A lovely story about how a love of reading can transport us to other worlds and also bring us together.” – Toronto Star
“This moving debut demonstrates the power of novels to provide comfort in the face of devastating loss and loneliness, with relatable characters and a heartwarming tone throughout. Readers who enjoyed Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop will find themselves drawn in by this book.” – Booklist
Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, & Nate Powell
Nonfiction / Graphic Novel / Memoir / History.
“In sharing my story, it is my hope that a new generation will be inspired by Run to actively participate in the democratic process and help build a more perfect Union here in America.” – Congressman John Lewis
The sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series March—the continuation of the life story of John Lewis and the struggles seen across the United States after the Selma voting rights campaign.
To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.
“This worthy successor to the late Congressman Lewis’s March graphic memoir trilogy picks up in the civil rights leader’s life during the 1960s counterculture revolution… This living history gives faces and voices to the legends of the civil rights era and connects their struggles to the present; the police brutality, voter suppression tactics, and segregationist politics of the 1960s are not so different from those Lewis was still making ‘good trouble’ against at the time of his death in 2020. Lewis’s stunning American story and legacy lives on in these pages.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“This is a fantastic choice for classrooms… will speak powerfully to anyone trying to make sense of their own values in the face of wider movements and calls to action.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“An intimate, powerfully revealing look at a crucial, complex time, through the eyes of a true American hero.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman ★
Fiction / Suspense.
East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: overseeing the production of a film adaptation of one of his books, preventing starlet Cassidy Carter’s disruptive behavior from derailing said production, and turning this last-ditch effort at career resuscitation into the sort of success that will dazzle his wife and daughter back home. But California is not as he imagined: drought, wildfire, and corporate corruption are omnipresent, and the company behind a mysterious new brand of synthetic water seems to be at the root of it all. Partnering with Cassidy–after having been her reluctant chauffeur for weeks–the two of them investigate the sun-scorched city’s darker crevices, where they discover that catastrophe resembles order until the last possible second.
In this poised and all-too-timely story, Kleeman grapples with an issue that is very much front-of-mind: the corruption of our environment in the age of alternative facts. She does so with a meticulous and deeply felt accounting of our very human anxieties, liabilities, dependencies, and ultimately, our responsibility to truth.
“Because this is an Alexandra Kleeman novel, none of it goes where you think it’s going to, but it’s all so wildly entertaining and beautifully written that it really doesn’t matter where you end up.” – Literary Hub
“Kleeman’s ranging and ambitious latest… imagines a climate-ravaged near-future California… The action is propulsive and entertaining even as the horrors of climate change smolder around every corner. Readers will be captivated by this intelligent, rip-roaring story.” – Publishers Weekly
“Beginning with a hipster vibe that wickedly satirizes the frippery of Hollywood’s self-absorption, Kleeman’s dystopian tale heads inexorably into a dark, fatalistic exploration of the moral consequences of environmental destruction… displaying imagery that is stark and pulsating with a vibrancy fueled by a complexly rich imagination.” – Booklist
“It’s undeniably fun to watch Kleeman juggle genre, from mystery to domestic drama, from cli-fi to ghost story… An admirably eclectic take on environmental dystopia.” – Kirkus Reviews
Tidepool by Nicole Willson
Fiction / Horror / Fantasy.
If ye give not willingly, the Lords will rise…
In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappeared while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry is known to have visited. Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she asks about her brother.
When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives.
However, after meeting Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret.
With this discovery, some denizens of Tidepool—human and otherwise—are hell-bent on making sure Sorrow never leaves their forsaken town.
Lovecraftian dark fantasy gets a modern treatment in this terrifying debut novel.
“Wilson’s plot hits all the right beats… Devotees of cosmic horror will enjoy this woman-centered take on familiar tropes.” – Publishers Weekly
The Turnout by Megan Abbott ★
Fiction / Suspense.
Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they’ve worked for.
Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.
“Abbott’s novels are often described as crime fiction, and, while indeed she works with mystery and suspense and draws on noir and Gothic tropes, her goal seems less to construct intricate, double-crossing plot problems than to explore the dark side of femininity… In other words, Megan Abbott is a mood.” – New York Times Book Review
“Abbott is a legend for good reason. No one combines the style of classic noir with the psyches of sophisticated men and women who are willing to do anything—anything—to succeed better than Abbott. Her latest is a dizzyingly fascinating story of a family-owned dance studio and the weight of unrequited ambition. An instant classic.” – Washington Post
“Abbott is a master of atmosphere, and in the blood, sweat, tears, bruises, ripped toenails, broken bones, rivalries, desires, and tutu-pink dreams that fill the studio during its annual production of The Nutcracker, she creates a world of almost unbearable tension, pirouetting ever further into darkness.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Abbott’s prose is dazzlingly precise and her portrayal of student rivalries razor-sharp in this taut and psychologically gripping novel.” – The Guardian
WASPS: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy by Michael Know Beran
Nonfiction / History.
From politics to fashion, their style still intrigues us. WASPs produced brilliant reformers—Eleanor, Theodore, and Franklin Roosevelt—and inspired Cold Warriors—Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, and Joe Alsop. In such dazzling figures as Isabella Stewart Gardner, Edie Sedgwick, Babe Paley, and Marietta Tree they embodied a chic and an allure that drove characters like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby mad with desire.
They were creatures of glamour, power, and privilege, living amid the splendor of great houses, flashing jewels, and glittering soirées. Envied and lampooned, they had something the rest of America craved.
Yet they were unhappy. Descended from families that created the United States, WASPs felt themselves stunted by a civilization that thwarted their higher aspirations at every turn. They were the original lost generation, adrift in the waters of the Gilded Age. Some were sent to lunatic asylums or languished in nervous debility. Others committed suicide.
Yet out of the neurotic ruins emerged a group of patriots devoted to public service and the renewal of society. In a groundbreaking study of the WASP revolution in American life, Michael Knox Beran brings the stories of Henry Adams and Henry Stimson, Learned Hand and Vida Scudder, John Jay Chapman and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to life. These characters were driven by a vision of human completeness, one that distinguishes them from the self-complacency of more recent power establishments narrowly founded on money and technical know-how.
WASPs shaped the America in which we live: so much so that it is not easy to understand our problems without a knowledge of their mistakes. They came to grief in Vietnam and through their own toxic blood pride, yet before they succumbed to the last temptation of arrogance, they struggled to fill a void in American life, one that many of us still feel.
For all their faults, they pointed—in an age of shrunken lives and diminished possibility—to the dream of a new life.
“A colorful survey, Beran stuffs the account with juicy details. This is a rewarding study of a vital yet slippery aspect of American history and culture.” – Publishers Weekly
“America’s WASP elite is captured in all its outrageous glory.” – The Times
“WASPs: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy contains much to be admired. Its ambitious scope does not detract from the author’s knack for detail, and a great many eminent WASPs are brought to life in intimate portraits weaved together into a century-spanning epic. Beran takes the story in some interesting and unexpected directions…” – The American Conservative
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.
Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together.
“[An] accomplished debut… Lange’s narrative perspectives are keenly realized, and she keeps all of the Brennans sizzling with humanity while they grapple with familial loyalty. Fans of intense family dramas are in for a treat.” – Publishers Weekly
“Each Brennan is unique and multifaceted… four distinct entities, yet they fit together perfectly and create an ideal (albeit a tad dysfunctional) team. Lange expertly depicts the complexities of families… showing the ugly underbelly of family dynamics right alongside their beautiful bond.” – The Book Review Crew
“We Are the Brennans is well plotted, offering plenty of action, but it shines brightest in depicting family relationships, love mixed with resentment and guilt, and in character development. The Brennan siblings are believably flawed, their troubles multifaceted… a page-turner in the best way, slowly doling out the family’s life-altering secrets. We root for the Brennans the whole way through, waiting for them to face hard truths about one another and, we hope, to move forward together.” – BookPage
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We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz ★
Fiction / Suspense.
Emily is having the time of her life–she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of their trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she’d been flirting with attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again–can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving head-first into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her friend’s motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their coverups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can she outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom–even her life?
“Pulse-pounding with secrets, lies, and friends who trust too much.” – CrimeReads
“Bartz’s evocative descriptions of destinations as varied as Chile and Cambodia pulled me in immediately, but it was the way she ratcheted up the tension by dropping clues about the duo’s murky past that kept me rapt until the end.” – Travel + Leisure
“An eerie psychological thriller… with alluring locales, Hitchcockian tension and possibly the best pair of female leads since Thelma and Louise.” – BookPage
“This smartly written psychological thriller will leave you all tingly.” – Reader’s Digest
When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen
Fiction / Horror.
More than a decade ago, Mira fled her small, segregated hometown in the south to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend Celine, mocked by their town as the only white girl with black friends; from her old neighborhood; from the eerie Woodsman plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw that terrible day when a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.
But now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, and especially, Jesse, to finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.
But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum drinks, entertainments include horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that slaves were tortured mercilessly and that ghosts roam the lands, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests.
As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come.
“…arresting… McQueen does a good job balancing the various timelines to show how a place can be haunted by living history. This leaves readers with much to consider.” – Publishers Weekly
“Engrossing… Playing on the disturbing trend of celebrating happy moments on restored plantations, McQueen cranks the discomfort up a notch to create a story where readers will actively cheer on the restless spirits.” – Library Journal
“McQueen carefully walks the line between visions and reality, weaving the voices and stories of the former slaves into the present-day lives and thoughts of her characters as history that has been denied and buried asserts itself.” – Kirkus Reviews
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Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey
Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.
The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.
When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.
Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.
But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.
“[A] stunning suspense novel—perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Celeste Ng.” – Library Journal
“Beautifully written and very moving, this is an assured debut.” – The Guardian
“This is a striking first novel, a chilling insight into an oppressive world, where bad thoughts and bad deeds ripple just below the surface.” – The Observer