Best New Books: Weeks of 11/23/21 & 11/30/21

“I suppose I will die never knowing what pumpkin pie tastes like when you have room for it.” – Robert Brault

NOTE: Hi everyone! There aren’t as many books coming out over the next 2 weeks as usual, so we have combined them into 1 post! So, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you on December 7!

Aftermath by  Preti Taneja


Usman Khan was convicted of terrorism-related offenses at age 20, and sent to high security prison. He was released eight years later, and allowed to travel to London for an event marking the fifth anniversary of Learning Together, a prison education program he had participated in. On November 29, 2019, he sat with others at Fishmonger’s Hall, some of whom he called friends. Then he went to the restroom to retrieve the things he had hidden there: a fake bomb vest and two knives, which he taped to his wrists.

Preti Taneja taught fiction writing in prison for three years. Jack Merritt, 25, who was killed in the attack, oversaw the program; Usman Khan was one of her students. “It is the immediate aftermath,” Taneja writes, “‘I am living at the centre of a wound still fresh.’ The I is not mine, it is ours.”

In this bold and searching lament by the award-winning author of We That Are Young, Taneja interrogates the language of terror, trauma and grief; the fictions we believe and the voices we exclude. Contending with the pain of unspeakable loss set against public tragedy, Taneja draws on history, memory, and powerful poetic predecessors to contemplate the systemic nature of atrocity. Blurring genre and form, Aftermath is a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and recapture a politics of hope among the lives that many think have forfeited the right to be mourned.

Description from Goodreads.

“Stunning… [Taneja] turns a critical lens toward the way language shapes violence, suggesting that ‘power tells a story to sustain itself, it has no empathy for those it harms.’ This poetic, urgent, and self-reflective work will delight fans of Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business by  Mel Brooks

Nonfiction / Memoir / Biography / Comedy.

At 95, the legendary Mel Brooks continues to set the standard for comedy across television, film, and the stage. Now, for the first time, this EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner shares his story in his own words.

“I hope fans of comedy will get a kick out of the stories behind my work, and really enjoy taking this remarkable ride with me.” – Mel Brooks

For anyone who loves American comedy, the long wait is over. Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny.

All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’ stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers.

All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft.

Filled with tales of struggle, achievement, and camaraderie (and dozens of photographs), readers will gain a more personal and deeper understanding of the incredible body of work behind one of the most accomplished and beloved entertainers in history.

Description from Goodreads.

“In this laugh-a-minute memoir, actor and producer Brooks looks back at his rise through Hollywood, gleefully doling out punch lines along the way… Studded with snickering asides and rapid-fire jokes, Brooks’ account of making it in show biz is just as sidesplitting as his movies.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

And They Lived Happily Ever After by  Therese Beharrie

Fiction / Romance / Fantasy.

One unexpected kiss…
Successful romance author Gaia Anders has a secret: anything she dreams at night is magically written into her bestselling novels. After a lonely childhood in foster care, her dream life is the only one she trusts. Gaia’s waking life just can’t compare—until she gets caught in one utterly surprising, crazy-passionate, real-life kiss…

One near-perfect guy…
Workaholic businessman Jacob Scott has had a crush on his brother’s best friend, Gaia, since forever—but he never expected to literally share her dreams. Living out their magical nighttime fantasies is explosive, but it’s their waking desire turning his single-minded ways upside down. It’s making him want a future he didn’t think was possible…

One dream that could come true…
But Gaia has secrets from her past she won’t reveal. And Jacob’s attempts to keep the peace in his own fractured family puts him up against her deepest fears. Soon, they’re facing hard truths about who they are and what they’re running from. And the only way to break this curse is realizing true love’s real-life power…

Description from Goodreads.

“Beharrie delivers an ambitious story of magic, romance, and healing from past trauma… Anxious Gaia’s difficult background and social awkwardness will endear her to many readers… This quirky paranormal rom-com is sure to find an audience.” – Publishers Weekly

“Beharrie weaves her best magic when she unpacks the ways the protagonists’ minds and hearts work. Jacob and Gaia’s interactions are consistently compelling, and their internal struggles evoke empathy… Gaia’s relationship with romance novels allows Beharrie to tug at the threads of the genre’s long journey through changing times and doff her hat to its many charms… A sweet reminder of the connections between love and magic.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

Autopsy by  Patricia Cornwell

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has returned to Virginia as the chief medical examiner. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited an overbearing secretary and a legacy of neglect and possible corruption.

She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top secret private laboratory in outer space, and at least two scientists aboard are found dead. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House Situation Room and tasked with finding out what happened. But even as she works the first crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again. And this time, Scarpetta could be in greater danger than ever before.

In this latest novel in her groundbreaking Kay Scarpetta series, Patricia Cornwell captivates readers with the shocking twists, high-wire tension, and forensic detail that she is famous for, proving once again why she’s the world’s #1 bestselling crime writer.

Description from Goodreads.

“With a sophisticated narrative, an outstanding company of characters, a horrific crime, and a surprising ending [Cornwell] proves you can go home again… Scarpetta is brilliant, compassionate and humble, excelling in her profession and in diplomacy while trying to solve a heinous crime… Longtime fans will cheer Scarpetta’s return.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The autopsy, remotely controlled by Scarpetta — and physically carried out by two astronauts — is an astonishing, groundbreaking sequence… Patricia Cornwell’s terse, evocative style adds to the creeping sense of unease… Thirty years on, there’s still no other crime writer like her.” – The Sunday Times

“Scarpetta is back at her former job as chief medical examiner for the state of Virginia. She has a lot of cleaning up to do… [Cornwell] pulls it off nicely. In fact, she pulls off the whole book nicely. Scarpetta’s return to her Virginia roots feels just right.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by  Diana Gabaldon

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Romance / Fantasy.

The past may seem the safest place to be… but it is the most dangerous time to be alive…

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1746, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.

Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s teakettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.

Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family.

Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet… on his son’s behalf, and his own.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] must for fans.” – USA Today

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook

King of Battle and Blood by  Scarlett St. Clair

Fiction / Fantasy / Romance.

Their union is his revenge.

Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. ⠀

But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries to kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. ⠀

Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrain. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king——fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort. ⠀

The answer will shatter her world.

Description from Goodreads.

“St. Clair breathes new life into an old trope as a princess and a vampire king wed to end a yearslong war in this outstanding series opener… St. Clair has a masterful hand with the couple’s slow burn, balancing banter, contention, and highly charged moments. Readers will be chomping at the bit for the next installment.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

The Night Will Be Long by  Santiago Gamboa

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

When a horribly violent confrontation occurs outside of Cauca, Colombia, only a young boy is around to witness it. But no sooner does the violence happen than it disappears, vanished without a trace. Nobody claims to have seen anything. Nobody claims to have heard anything. That is, until an anonymous accusation catalyzes a dangerous investigation into the deep underbelly of the Christian churches present today in Latin America.

The Night Will Be Long is a dark, twisting thriller filled with moments of humor and pain–a story that will stick with readers long after they turn the last page.

Description from Goodreads.

“This intelligent police procedural from Gamboa refracts decades of turbulent Colombian history through the experiences of dramatically drawn characters… a colorful story with solid grounding in historical detail.” – Publishers Weekly

“…engrossing… a complex portrait of a nation fraught with bitter ironies… Gamboa has crafted an effective thriller that thrives on his empathetic imagination.” – Shelf Awareness

“[The] book never loses the spark of originality… absorbing…” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical Religious Cult by  Faith Jones

Nonfiction / Memoir / True Crime.

Faith Jones was raised to be part an elite army preparing for the End Times. Growing up on an isolated farm in Macau, she prayed for hours every day and read letters of prophecy written by her grandfather, the founder of the Children of God. Tens of thousands of members strong, the cult followers looked to Faith’s grandfather as their guiding light. As such, Faith was celebrated as special and then punished doubly to remind her that she was not.

Over decades, the Children of God grew into an international organization that became notorious for its alarming sex practices and allegations of abuse and exploitation. But with indomitable grit, Faith survived, creating a world of her own—pilfering books and teaching herself high school curriculum. Finally, at age twenty-three, thirsting for knowledge and freedom, she broke away, leaving behind everything she knew to forge her own path in America.

A complicated family story mixed with a hauntingly intimate coming-of-age narrative, Faith Jones’ extraordinary memoir reflects our societal norms of oppression and abuse while providing a unique lens to explore spiritual manipulation and our rights in our bodies. Honest, eye-opening, uplifting, and intensely affecting, Sex Cult Nun brings to life a hidden world that’s hypnotically alien yet unexpectedly relatable.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A]n exceptional debut… A must-read memoir of self-discovery and reinvention that readers will find impossible to put down. Pass along to fans of Tara Westover’s Educated.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The no-holds-barred story of growing up in an extremist religious cult preparing for the end of days is hard to put down from its very first sentence. Jones brings us along as she tries to navigate a world few of us can imagine while contending with the conflicts of love, loyalty and growing up.” – Newsweek

“…outstanding… As Jones transports readers from Macau to Kazakhstan to the United States, Jones skillfully provides the mental framework to understand her past as an indoctrinated individual in hopes of helping others ‘stand up for themselves.’ This remarkable account of self-liberation is not to be missed.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Small Things Like These by  Claire Keegan

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.

Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

Description from Goodreads.

“This novel, which has all the trappings of a Claire Keegan story (small-town Ireland, a dark secret, a man with a burden to bear) is sure to be absolutely beloved by all who read it.” – Literary Hub

“A feat of compression, concerned with the nature of goodness and the texture of everyday life. [A] snowglobe of a story that fits a whole bustling, striving, yearning world into 114 finely wrought pages.” – The Sunday Times

“Keegan distils the years of suffering and torture that went on across the country into a reed-slim moral tale of quiet but monumental devastation… Although concretely realist, and grounded in dark social history, everything about this remarkable novella feels in some way miraculous; from the parable-like impression of the story itself, which culminates in an act of bravery and true Christian humanity, to the modest, measured beauty of Keegan’s prose… The clarity and truth of Keegan’s vision never falters. The result is a truly exquisite, tenderly hopeful Christmas tale in which compassion and altruism triumph over apathy and inertia.” – The Telegraph

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

These Precious Days: Essays by  Ann Patchett ★

Nonfiction / Memoir.

“Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.

At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a surprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.

A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.

From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

Description from Goodreads.

“Ann Patchett’s essay collection adds the extraordinary to the everyday.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“The elegance of Patchett’s prose is seductive and inviting: with Patchett as a guide, readers will really get to grips with the power of struggles, failures, and triumphs alike.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“An enviable life shared with candor, emotion, and knockout storytelling power.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Patchett… is an exhilarating and provocative essayist… Mischievously funny and nimbly incisive… Breathtakingly candid, Patchett attains graceful velocity and tilt, her vibrant sentences serving as divining rods for piquant life lessons.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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

Wish You Were Here by  Jodi Picoult


Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos–days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself–and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] beguiling page-turner… As always, Picoult is eminently readable…” – Publishers Weekly

“Leave it to Jodi Picoult to blow my mind and have my emotions all over the place. Unsettling yet somehow satisfying, dismal yet inspiring, Wish You Were Here was full of the real life contradictions that will forever be synonymous with the global COVID-19 pandemic.” – Harlequin Junkie

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


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