Best New Books: Week of 9/7/21

“In the end, fiction is the craft of telling truth through lies.” – Lauren Groff

Beautiful Country: A Memoir by  Qian Julie Wang

Nonfiction / Memoir.

In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal” and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.

In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly “shopping days,” when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center—confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.

But then Qian’s headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor’s visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you’ve always lived here.

Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.

Description from Goodreads.

“A potent testament to the love, curiosity, grit, and hope of a courageous and resourceful immigrant child. Engaging readers through all five senses and the heart, Wang’s debut memoir is a critical addition to the literature on immigration as well as the timeless category of childhood memoir.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Extraordinary… With immense skill, Wang parses how her family’s illegal status blighted nearly every aspect of their life, from pushing her parents’ marriage to the brink to compromising their health. While Wang’s story of pursuing the American dream is undoubtedly timeless, it’s her family’s triumph in the face of ‘xenophobia and intolerance’ that makes it feel especially relevant today. Consider this remarkable memoir a new classic.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The writing is sparse, stylish, sometimes harrowing and sometimes humorous as she narrates experiences that are incredibly common but rarely captured with this level of artful control. It’s shaping up to be one of the best memoirs of the year.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Beautiful World, Where Are You by  Sally Rooney ★


Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Description from Goodreads.

“Delicious.” – Literary Hub

“As much as she resists the title, Rooney’s new book may just cement her status as a leading voice of the millennial generation.” – Harper’s Bazaar

“In many ways, this book, a work of both philosophy and romantic tragicomedy about the ways people love and hurt one another, is exactly the type of book one would expect Rooney to write out of the political environment of the past few years. But just because the novel is so characteristic of Rooney doesn’t take anything away from its considerable power… A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Instead of latching onto hardships, digging through them until every last nuance has been overturned and all the trauma and tragedy has been exhausted, Rooney carries her readers and characters through them in realistic portrayals of the way time and life don’t wait for people to recover… For those who have yet to hop on the Sally Rooney bandwagon, it’s never too late.” – Zzvya

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Friends Like These by  Kimberly McCreight

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

Everyone has those friends. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how badly they’ve occasionally behaved, or how late it is when that call finally comes—you show up. No questions asked.

Honestly, that’s how the five of us ended up here in the Catskills. We did have the best of intentions. Especially after what happened to Alice all those years ago, we can’t bear to think of losing anyone else. In fact, we’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll go so much farther than we ever thought we would.

In the end, maybe that’s what caught up with us. That, and the fact that we’re such a complicated group—so much history and so many big personalities. Secrets, too, that can slip out at the most inopportune moments. Of course, we love each other despite all of those things. We love each other no matter what.

There’s something so beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. It can turn ugly, though. Or maybe that’s just us. After all, we’ve already been through so much together. And we have so very much to hide.

Description from Goodreads.

“Riveting… An entertaining puzzle.” – BookPage

“…sinuous storytelling, escalating stakes, and an avalanche of bad decisions propel the tale to a gratifying… conclusion. B.A. Paris fans will be pleased.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Heart Radical: A Search for Language, Love, and Belonging by  Anne Liu Kellor

Nonfiction / Memoir.

Wanting to understand how her path is tied to her mother tongue, Anne, a young, multiracial American woman, travels through China, the country of her mother’s birth. Along the way, she tries on different roles—seeker, teacher, student, girlfriend, artist, and daughter—and continually asks herself: Why am I called to make this journey?

Whether witnessing a Tibetan sky burial, teaching English at a university in Chengdu, visiting her grandmother in LA, or falling in love with a Chinese painter, Anne is always in pursuit of intimacy with others, even as she is all too aware of her silences and separation. Ultimately, she realizes that to live her truth as a mixed-race, bilingual woman she must embrace all of her influences and layers. In a world that often wants us to choose a side or fit an ideal, she learns that she can both belong and not belong wherever she is, and that home is found within.

Description from Goodreads.

“Anne Liu Kellor’s intimate and revealing memoir Heart Radical concerns a struggle to know oneself–and to get into the heart of the Chinese people through language.” – Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…profound and lyrical… By deepening her Chinese language skills, Kellor found an authentic identity and a way to belong, in the larger world and at home in her family.” – International Examiner

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

The Heron’s Cry by  Ann Cleeves

Fiction / Mystery.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder–Dr. Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr. Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found–killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home.

DI Matthew Venn returns in The Heron’s Cry, in Ann Cleeves powerful next novel, proving once again that she is a master of her craft.

Description from Goodreads.

“In her follow-up to The Long Call, Cleeves provides a complex mystery full of surprises. This character-driven exploration of people’s darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves’ formidable talents.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Well-crafted… intricate plotting, complex characters, and rich atmosphere… new and existing fans will be pleased.” – Publishers Weekly

“The mystery itself is tight and moves at an excellent pace. There is just enough tension to keep the reader engaged in the book without pushing them over into heart pounding suspense. This tension builds to the climax, when the murderer is revealed in a perfect denouement. This is one book you won’t want to miss.” – Mystery & Suspense

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

The House of Ashes by  Stuart Neville

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

Sara Keane’s husband, Damien, has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a “fresh start” in the wake of her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, friendless—all but a prisoner in her own house. When a blood-soaked old woman beats on the door, insisting the house is hers before being bundled back to her care facility, Sara begins to understand the house has a terrible history her husband never intended for her to discover.

Through the counterpoint voices of two women—one modern Englishwoman, one Northern Irish farmgirl speaking from half a century earlier—Stuart Neville offers a chilling and gorgeous portrait of violence and resilience in this truly haunting narrative.

Description from Goodreads.

“A stunning novel, brutal, disturbing and completely riveting… Life-endangering female resistance to misogyny is a recurrent theme in contemporary crime fiction, but The House of Ashes is one of the most vivid, moving and memorable treatments it has received.” – Crime Culture

“Spellbinding… Neville hooks his reader with the opening sequences of his story, mystery, and horror emerging prominently. The multi-narrative structure that plays out is effective and gripping. Impressive just begins to describe Neville’s latest offering.” – Seattle Book Review

“[A] gut-wrenching novel of psychological suspense with ghostly undertones… This unforgettable tale of servitude and subservience, domestic abuse, and toxic masculinity builds to a resolution offering redemption and heartfelt solace. Neville has outdone himself.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book

An Ideal Presence


In 2015, the Argentinian novelist Eduardo Berti spent several weeks in a “medico-literary” residency at the University Hospital Centre in Rouen, France, observing and conversing with the staff and volunteers of its palliative care department. From that experience he created this series of lightly fictionalized testimonials from nurses, nursing aides, doctors, administrators, porters, volunteer musicians, and the other people who make the unit tick. The result is a distinctly intimate and often poignant portrait of sickness and care, and unflinching look at death through the eyes of the people who work with it every day — but also a profound reflection on what it means to be alive.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] searching, humane account of a palliative care unit in Rouen, France… the moments of quiet humor, grief, and grace make this oddly enlivening.” – Publishers Weekly

“Despite the subject matter, Berti’s prose feels neither maudlin nor macabre. Instead, his portrayal of patients at the height of vulnerability and the caretakers who ‘assist and accompany at the moment of death’ is at once delicate, complex, and respectful, providing intimacy without being voyeuristic… Berti’s triumph is bringing us deep into a topic that even his characters admit isn’t always comfortable… Deeply affecting.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

Imminence by  Mariana Dimópulos


A new mother holds her month-old son for the first time, but her body betrays her with an absence of feeling. Disoriented, she wanders with her partner around their plant-filled Buenos Aires apartment. Set over the course of an evening, and a lifetime, Imminence shifts seamlessly between the present and the past. Little by little, her world begins to unravel.

In a dreamlike space composed of overlapping vignettes, Irina retraces the mirrored paths of a life filled with images that swell and recede, recalling the intimacies and anxieties she has shared with her female friends, and with her male lovers: Pedro, Ivan, and the sinister Cousin. Feeling herself caught in a web of obligations, she insists time and again: “I’m not a woman.”

Mariana Dimópulos’s mesmerizing novel reinforces her standing as one of the most expressive and inventive of contemporary Latin American writers.

Description from Goodreads.

“Wonderfully atmospheric and evocative, Dimópulos’s latest is exceedingly satisfying.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…unsettling… one of the most finely realized representations of what it feels like to be oddly out of step with the world around you… an exceptionally well crafted novel.” – Rough Ghosts

Imminence is not only an enthralling novel; it is a complex project that highlights the congruent struggles that exist between giving birth to a child and birthing a novel. It suggests that one seemingly can’t escape what is prescribed, but if looking for a silver lining, or the inclination to reach out and touch the ‘lustre of a silver foot’ (p.2), it is possible to rework the formula to arrive at an entirely unexpected result. ” – Mascara Literary Review

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

In Every Mirror She’s Black by  Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström


Three Black women are linked in unexpected ways to the same influential white man in Stockholm as they build their new lives in the most open society run by the most private people.

Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi is lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation’s largest marketing firm, to help fix a PR fiasco involving a racially tone-deaf campaign. A killer at work but a failure in love, Kemi’s move is a last-ditch effort to reclaim her social life.

A chance meeting with Jonny in business class en route to the U.S. propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege—a life she’s not sure she wants—as the object of his unhealthy obsession.

And refugee Muna Saheed, who lost her entire family, finds a job cleaning the toilets at Jonny’s office as she works to establish her residency in Sweden and, more importantly, seeks connection and a place she can call home.

Told through the perspectives of each of the three women, In Every Mirror She’s Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.

Description from Goodreads.

“Åkerström paints an admirably rich portrait of a particular culture―its nuances, norms, and idiosyncrasies―raising important questions of prejudice, racial bias, agency, and belonging… A novel with thematic depth and complexity.” – Kirkus Reviews

“An engaging novel that presents the nuanced experiences of Black women from all walks of life. The author takes on misogynoir masterfully in this book that’s never quite what you think it is.” – Essence

“A striking debut… As entertaining as it is revealing, Åkerström’s novel has readers hoping that each of these women is able to break free from toxic expectations and achieve her every dream and ambition. Along the way, Åkerström also delivers poignant commentary on Swedish culture and the price Black women pay by virtue of the color of their skin. ” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by  Zoraida Córdova

Fiction / Fantasy.

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] radiant adult debut… The magic is vivid and yet familiar, and adds to the urgency of the plot… [An] inspired and entertaining blend of magical realism and fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly

“A rich, intergenerational novel steeped in magical realism.” – BuzzFeed

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a magical story with complex characters, masterful plotting, and a sprawling family encompassing a range of Latinx experiences. Readers will be captivated.” – Shelf Awareness

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Late City by  Robert Olen Butler

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

A visionary and poignant novel centered around former newspaperman Sam Cunningham as he prepares to die, Late City covers much of the early twentieth century, unfurling as a conversation between the dying man and a surprising God. As the two review Sam’s life, from his childhood in the American South and his time in the French trenches during World War I to his fledgling newspaper career in Chicago in the Roaring Twenties and the decades that follow, snippets of history are brought sharply into focus. Sam grows up in Louisiana, with a harsh father, who he comes to resent both for his physical abuse and for what Sam eventually perceives as his flawed morality. Eager to escape and prove himself, Sam enlists in the army as a sniper while still underage. The hardness his father instilled in him helps him make it out of World War I alive, but, as he recounts these tales on his deathbed, we come to realize that it also prevents him from contending with the emotional wounds of war. Back in the U.S., Sam moves to Chicago to begin a career as a newspaperman that will bring him close to all the major historical turns of the twentieth century. There he meets his wife and has a son, whose fate counters Sam’s at almost every turn.

As he contemplates his relationships-with his parents, his brothers in arms, his wife, his editor, and most importantly, his son-Sam is amazed at what he still has left to learn about himself after all these years in this heart-rending novel from the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Description from Goodreads.

“With two dozen remarkably imaginative and empathic fiction titles to his credit, Butler brings preternatural attunement to the spiraling of the mind and ardently honed artistry to this exceptionally nuanced, tender, funny, tragic, and utterly transfixing portrait of a man reflecting on more than a century’s worth of horror and wonder.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A moving tale of love and misunderstanding.” – Publishers Weekly

“Sage historical fiction that gets into the emotional grit behind major news events.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | Hoopla eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

The Magician by  Colm Tóibín

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Colm Tóibín’s new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile.

Description from Goodreads.

“It’s hard not to talk about Colm Tóibín’s latest novel, The Magician, in the loftiest of terms, as something staggering, or dazzling, or an achievement. Yet given the epic sweep of the book—which at once offers a haunting and heartrendingly intimate portrait of its protagonist, the German writer Thomas Mann, and a richly drawn sense of place as it travels through a politically turbulent early-20th-century Europe to America and back again—these accolades feel deserving… If you’re willing to give yourself over to the vast and stunningly realized world that Tóibín conjures around Mann, you’ll find yourself savoring every page.” – Vogue

“This vibrates with the strength of Mann’s visions and the sublimity of Tóibín’s mellifluous prose. Tóibín has surpassed himself.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“As with his triumphant fictional biography of Henry James, The Master, Tóibín once again takes as his subject a literary titan, the Nobel laureate Thomas Mann… Employing luxurious prose that quietly evokes the tortured soul behind these literary masterpieces, Tóibín has an unequalled gift for mapping the interior of genius. In Mann, Toibin finds the ideal muse, one whose interior is so rich and vast that only a similar genius could hope to capture it.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook

Matrix by  Lauren Groff ★

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.

At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.

Description from Goodreads.

“[T]hrilling and heartbreaking. Groff… crafts an electric work of historical fiction.” – Time

“Incandescent… Woven from Groff’s trademark ecstatic sentences and brimming with spiritual fervor, Matrix is a radiant work of imagination and accomplishment.” – Esquire

“The medieval nun drama you didn’t know you needed… The femme energy in this book is strong, with hardly a man to be found in 272 pages… Fans… will appreciate [Groff’s] gift for conjuring isolated communities, places where people are forced together by faith and circumstance — and the intimacies and frustrations that result.” – Vulture

“Stunning… grand, mythic… feels both ancient and urgent, as holy as it is deeply human.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Transcendent prose and vividly described settings bring to life historic events, from the Crusades to the papal interdict of 1208. Groff has outdone herself with an accomplishment as radiant as Marie’s visions.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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

Misfits by  Michaela Coel ★

Nonfiction / Memoir.

In this sensational, agenda-setting debut, Michaela Coel, BAFTA-winning actor and writer of breakout series I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum, makes a compelling case for radical honesty.

Drawing on her unflinching Edinburgh TV Festival MacTaggart lecture, Misfits recounts deeply personal anecdotes from Coel’s life and work to argue for greater transparency. With insight and wit, it lays bare her journey to reclaiming her creativity and power, inviting readers to reflect on theirs.

Advocating for “misfits” everywhere, this timely, necessary book is a rousing and bold case against fitting in.

Description from Goodreads.

“…highly impactful…” – Entertainment Weekly

“Coel covers everything… with her signature wit and wisdom, making it clear that her narrative power transcends the small screen. Coel’s is a voice that jumps off the page, and it’s one we’re lucky to have applied to whichever story she chooses to tell.” – Vogue

“Written with the same perfect balance of sentiment, insight and wit that made viewers fall in love with her on the screen… It’s an impassioned and rousing defense of staying true to yourself and supporting others to do the same.” – Time

“…indulging in the celebration of creative expression without sacrificing a critique of the obstacles that she and other ‘misfits’ face when trying to make art in hostile territory… she anchors her words in the wisdom of the wayward, those who seek only the freedom to manifest a world in their own outcast image.” – Vulture

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Never Saw Me Coming by  Vera Kurian ★

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.

Description from Goodreads.

“This bar-raising debut exposes the gray areas in an often misunderstood disorder and defies readers to root against psychopathic antiheroes. Kurian’s highly anticipated thriller will undoubtedly lead fans of Gone Girl, Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, and Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels to hope for Chloe’s return.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Fun, entertaining, and hard to put down, a twisty whodunit with a satisfying conclusion.” – New York Journal of Books

“Readers won’t want to put down this fast and engaging debut novel, and they’ll root for the characters who’ve been cast as villains; Chloe is a particular paradox, simultaneously deplorable and charming.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Poet Warrior: A Memoir by  Joy Harjo

Nonfiction / Memoir / Poetry.

Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life.

In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice.

Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. She explores her grief at the loss of her mother and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member. Moving fluidly among prose, song, and poetry, Poet Warrior is a luminous journey of becoming that sings with all the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] gorgeous and meditative work… This mesmerizing story is a pleasure to get lost in.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A gorgeous, compassionate memoir from one of America’s greatest living writers.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“This poignant read offers a lot of food for thought. Highly recommended for any library, especially for memoir collections.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book

Rizzio by  Denise Mina

Fiction / Historical Fiction /  Suspense.

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] electric and utterly absorbing battle of wills.” – The Scotsman

“…riveting… darkly clever…” – PopSugar

“Bestseller Mina vividly recreates a gruesome episode from the Tudor era in this searing novella set mostly over the course of a single day, Mar. 9, 1566. Mina interjects well-wrought characterizations; this superior historical thriller reads like a real-life episode of Game of Thrones.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Hoopla eBook | eAudiobook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Rock Paper Scissors by  Alice Feeney

Fiction / Suspense.

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Description from Goodreads.

“Feeney lives up to her reputation as the ‘queen of the twist’… This page-turner will keep you guessing.” – Real Simple

“Entertaining and grippingly suspenseful on every page, this is a book not to be missed.” – Deadly Pleasures

“This one’s already been optioned, but I’d encourage everyone to read it before it heads to the screen… The two dovetail towards an explosive conclusion that leaves us with just enough ambiguity to linger in the reader’s mind long after finishing.” – CrimeReads

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy by  Adam Tooze

Nonfiction / Economics / History.

The shocks of 2020 have been great and small, disrupting the world economy, international relations and the daily lives of virtually everyone on the planet. Never before has the entire world economy contracted by 20 percent in a matter of weeks nor in the historic record of modern capitalism has there been a moment in which 95 percent of the world’s economies were suffering all at the same time. Across the world hundreds of millions have lost their jobs. And over it all looms the specter of pandemic, and death.

Adam Tooze, whose last book was universally lauded for guiding us coherently through the chaos of the 2008 crash, now brings his bravura analytical and narrative skills to a panoramic and synthetic overview of our current crisis. By focusing on finance and business, he sets the pandemic story in a frame that casts a sobering new light on how unprepared the world was to fight the crisis, and how deep the ruptures in our way of living and doing business are. The virus has attacked the economy with as much ferocity as it has our health, and there is no vaccine arriving to address that.

Tooze’s special gift is to show how social organization, political interests, and economic policy interact with devastating human consequences, from your local hospital to the World Bank. He moves fluidly from the impact of currency fluctuations to the decimation of institutions–such as health-care systems, schools, and social services–in the name of efficiency. He starkly analyzes what happened when the pandemic collided with domestic politics (China’s party conferences; the American elections), what the unintended consequences of the vaccine race might be, and the role climate change played in the pandemic. Finally, he proves how no unilateral declaration of independence or isolation can extricate any modern country from the global web of travel, goods, services, and finance.

Description from Goodreads.

“This is truly a picture of the global impact of the crisis; it covers the disruption in the financial markets, as well as the ins and outs of government policy… An impressively full account of the economic developments of the past 18 months.” – The Economist

“[Tooze’s] writing demystifies the world before us, dispelling the cloud created by the chaotic motivations and invidious narcissism of the market. Shutdown is one such cure, a book that answers so many questions about the state of the world that it will leave its readers feeling not just more learned but dizzy too. It is cliché at this point to remark that after COVID-19, everything changed; what Tooze illustrates masterfully in Shutdown is that the crisis the virus unleashed began much earlier, the world order’s fragility the product of a much longer process of mismanagement and selfishness.” – Vulture

“Economic historian Tooze examines the unprecedented decision of governments around the world to shutter their economies in the face of pandemic… As the pandemic hopefully continues to fade, other crises remain. This book is a valuable forecast of future problems.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by  Dawn Turner

Nonfiction / Memoir / Biography.

They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong as they come; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded—fervently and intensely in that unique way of little girls—as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South.

These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise, albeit nascent and fragile, that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. Their working-class, striving parents are eager for them to realize this hard-fought potential. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks’ business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures—Dawn and Debra, doctors, Kim a teacher. For a brief, wondrous moment the girls are all giggles and dreams and promises of “friends forever.” And then fate intervenes, first slowly and then dramatically, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There’s heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Dawn struggles to make sense of the shocking turns that consume her sister and her best friend, all the while asking herself a simple but profound question: Why?

In the vein of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Three Girls from Bronzeville is a piercing memoir that chronicles Dawn’s attempt to find answers. It’s at once a celebration of sisterhood and friendship, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.

Description from Goodreads.

“Exceptional… This deeply personal and thought provoking read is the nonfiction pick your book club has been waiting for.” – Real Simple

“Astounding… Turner’s candid memoir of entwined yet divergent lives is a probing inquiry into fate, frailty, tenacity, and ultimately, redemption.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“By turns beautiful, tragic, and inspiring, [Three Girls from Bronzeville] is a powerful testament to the bonds of sisterhood and the importance of understanding the conditions that shape a person’s life choices.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



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