Best New Books: Week of 1/4/22

“Art exists not inside the piece itself, but inside the mind of the viewer.” – Noah Hawley, Before the Fall


All of You Every Single One by  Beatrice Hitchman

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

C1641577.pdfSet in Vienna from 1910 to 1946, All of You Every Single One is an atmospheric, original, and deeply moving novel about family, freedom, and how true love might survive impossible odds. Julia Lindqvist, a woman unhappily married to a famous Swedish playwright, leaves her husband to begin a passionate affair with a female tailor named Eve. The pair run away together and settle in the more liberal haven of Vienna, where they fall in love, navigate the challenges of their newfound independence, and find community in the city’s Jewish quarter. But Julia’s yearning for a child throws their fragile happiness into chaos and threatens to destroy her life and the lives of those closest to her. Ada Bauer’s wealthy industrialist family have sent her to Dr. Freud in the hope that he can cure her mutism—and do so without a scandal. But help will soon come for Ada from an unexpected place, changing many lives irrevocably.

Through the lives of her queer characters, and against the changing backdrop of one of the greatest cities of the age, Hitchman asks what it’s like to live through oppression, how personal decisions become political, and how far one will go to protect the ones they love. Moving across Europe and through decades, Hitchman’s sophomore novel is an intensely poignant portrait of life and love on the fringes of history.

Description from Goodreads.

“With a masterful eye for historical detail, Beatrice Hitchman’s ambitious new novel plunges us headfirst into the bohemian world of Vienna’s early 20th century golden age… [A] beautiful, poignant, and deeply felt tale of holding on to the love of the chosen families we create, even in the most adverse of historical circumstances.” – Vogue

“A gorgeous and deeply moving novel… Hitchman takes readers on an atmospheric and unforgettable journey.” – Daily Hive

“Hitchman excels at capturing both the liberating permissiveness of turn-of-the-century Vienna and the city’s paralyzing fear after Hitler’s 1938 annexation of Austria… Her main characters are sympathetically drawn… engrossing.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Anthem by  Noah Hawley ★

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

AnthemSomething is happening to teenagers across America, spreading through memes only they can parse.

At the Float Anxiety Abatement Center, in a suburb of Chicago, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. He breaks out to join a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower.

Noah Hawley’s new novel is an adventure that finds unquenchable lights in dark corners. Unforgettably vivid characters and a plot as fast and bright as pop cinema blend in a Vonnegutian story that is as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale. It is a leap into the idiosyncratic pulse of the American heart, written with the bravado, literary power, and feverish foresight that have made Hawley one of our most essential writers.

Description from Goodreads.

“…thought-provoking… From the ominous sentence that opens the main narrative (‘The summer our children began to kill themselves was the hottest in history’), the author creates an all-too-plausible dystopia rendered believable through matter-of-fact prose. Hawley makes this sing by combining the social commentary of a Margaret Atwood novel with the horrors of a Stephen King book.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The apocalypse, it seems, is just around the corner. Yes, in Anthem, Hawley has written some of the most savage satire since Jonathan Swift, creating a ridiculous world in which only the young are viable. The plot-rich, cinematic story moves swiftly and compellingly, exciting reader interest and empathy. Anthem is truly an epic adventure.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Ingenious, action-packed. An explosive, multi-genre American novel.” – Shelf Awareness

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Brown Girls by  Daphne Palasi Andreades

Fiction.

Brown GirlsWe live in the dregs of Queens, New York, where airplanes fly so low that we are certain they will crush us…

This remarkable story brings you deep into the lives of a group of friends–young women of color growing up in Queens, New York City’s most vibrant and eclectic borough. Here, streets echo with languages from all over the globe, subways rumble above dollar stores, trees bloom and topple across sidewalks, and the briny scent of the ocean wafts from Rockaway Beach. Here, girls like Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and many others, attempt to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with the American culture they come of age in. Here, they become friends for life–or so they vow.

Exuberant and wild, they sing Mariah Carey at the tops of their lungs and roam the streets of The City That Never Sleeps, pine for crushes who pay them no mind–and break the hearts of those who do–all the while trying to heed their mothers’ commands to be dutiful daughters, obedient young women. As they age, however, their paths diverge and rifts form between them, as some choose to remain on familiar streets, while others find themselves ascending in the world, drawn to the allure of other skylines, careers, and lovers, beckoned by existences foreign and seemingly at odds with their humble roots.

In musical, evocative prose, Brown Girls illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, motherhood, and beyond, and is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and marginalization in America. It is an account of the forces that bind friends to one another, their families, and communities, and is a powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world. For even as the dueling forces of ambition and loyalty, freedom and marriage, reinvention and stability threaten to divide them, it is to each other–and to Queens–that the girls ultimately return.

Description from Goodreads.

“Daring… Andreades’s writing has economy and freshness. Brown Girls reads as much like poetry as it does like a novel…” – New York Times

“…blazingly original… Told with crackling prose and vivid detail, with humor so sharp it cuts, Brown Girls is a tribute to a neighborhood most people forget, and a group of young women determined to make their mark on an indifferent world.” – Shelf Awareness

“The eponymous brown girls of Andreades’s debut novel are all the girls in the world who are not white, and the author uses the collective ‘we’ to tell the tale as a group experience. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Fiona and Jane by  Jean Chen Ho ★

Fiction.

fiona and janeBest friends since second grade, Fiona Lin and Jane Shen explore the lonely freeways and seedy bars of Los Angeles together through their teenage years, surviving unfulfilling romantic encounters, and carrying with them the scars of their families’ tumultuous pasts. Fiona was always destined to leave, her effortless beauty burnished by fierce ambition–qualities that Jane admired and feared in equal measure. When Fiona moves to New York and cares for a sick friend through a breakup with an opportunistic boyfriend, Jane remains in California and grieves her estranged father’s sudden death, in the process alienating an overzealous girlfriend. Strained by distance and unintended betrayals, the women float in and out of each other’s lives, their friendship both a beacon of home and a reminder of all they’ve lost.

In stories told in alternating voices, Jean Chen Ho’s debut collection peels back the layers of female friendship–the intensity, resentment, and boundless love–to probe the beating hearts of young women coming to terms with themselves, and each other, in light of the insecurities and shame that holds them back.

Spanning countries and selves, Fiona and Jane is an intimate portrait of a friendship, a deep dive into the universal perplexities of being young and alive, and a bracingly honest account of two Asian women who dare to stake a claim on joy in a changing, contemporary America.

Description from Goodreads.

“A brilliant examination into young life told in a brilliant fashion. Jean Chen Ho has created two of the most memorable characters in recent fiction.” – Debutiful

“Wondrous… I loved how the stories were told from alternating perspectives and how we got a fuller portrait of both women through each new tale.” – Alma

“Compelling… Fiona and Jane—both earnest, curious and heart-full—epitomize the realities of growing up in America as young women, as immi­grants, as Asian Americans. Their arcs show how families complicate one’s life while also enriching it, how friends can become a found family, and how every choice can echo in and reflect a per­son’s whole life. By the [book’s] end, readers will feel as though they carry some part of these women with them, as if Fiona and Jane are our friends, as if their stories might yet overlap with our own.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“In this tender and timeless debut, Chen Ho explores the intimate facets of female friendship, Asian American immigrant experiences in Los Angeles and New York, and the debilitating power of family traumas.” – Booklist

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The Maid by  Nia Prose

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

maidMolly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Description from Goodreads.

“A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center.” – Real Simple

“Prose delivers a gratifying, kindhearted whodunit with a sharply drawn protagonist for whom readers can’t help rooting. Fans of fresh takes on traditional mysteries will be delighted.” – Publishers Weekly

“[The] way cozies should be written… beautifully written, extremely entertaining, has a great mystery, twists you don’t see coming and most of all one of the most endearing and interesting characters you will ever meet… one of the most delightful books I have read in ages…” – The Southern Bookseller Review

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Olga Dies Dreaming by  Xochitl Gonzalez ★

Fiction.

olga dies dreamingIt’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are bold-faced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s powerbrokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1%, but she can’t seem to find her own… until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets…

Twenty-seven years ago, their mother, Blanca, a Young Lord-turned-radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife and the very notion of the American dream–all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

Description from Goodreads.

“A wonderful and thought-provoking story…” – BookRiot

“Atmospheric, intelligent, and well informed: an impressive debut.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[An] edifying debut… Gonzalez elevates this family drama with a great deal of insight on the characters’ diaspora and politics.” – Publishers Weekly

Olga Dies Dreaming intricately presents its flawed characters working through the meaning of cultural identity, family secrets, grief, and self-preservation. Their stories capture the ways in which we sometimes define ourselves by how others see us ― to often painful ends.” – Book of the Month

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Reckless Girls by  Rachel Hawkins

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

reckless girlsWhen Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

Description from Goodreads.

“This diabolically plotted nail-biter makes for dangerously addictive reading.” – Publishers Weekly

“Hawkins twists revenge, madness, and an increasingly menacing setting into a cleverly plotted nightmare in paradise. A must-read for fans of Ruth Ware.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Evocative prose and a palpably foreboding atmosphere complement Lux’s present-tense narration, which Hawkins studs with flashbacks exposing the secrets, lies, and betrayals that brought each character to this point. Danger and interpersonal drama abound, with a slew of outrageous twists adding to the fun. A soapy, claustrophobic page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The School for Good Mothers by  Jessamine Chan ★

Fiction / Suspense.

school for good mothersFrida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. What’s worse is she can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with their angelic daughter Harriet does Frida finally feel she’s attained the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she’s just enough.

Until Frida has a horrible day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida — ones who check their phones while their kids are on the playground; who let their children walk home alone; in other words, mothers who only have one lapse of judgement. Now, a host of government officials will determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that she can live up to the standards set for mothers — that she can learn to be good.

This propulsive, witty page-turner explores the perils of “perfect” upper-middle-class parenting, the violence enacted upon women by the state and each other, and the boundless love a mother has for her daughter.

Description from Goodreads.

“An enthralling dystopian drama that makes complex points about parenting with depth and feeling.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

The School for Good Mothers picks up the mantle of writers like Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro, with their skin-crawling themes of surveillance, control, and technology; but it also stands on its own as a remarkable, propulsive novel. At a moment when state control over women’s bodies (and autonomy) feels ever more chilling, the book feels horrifyingly unbelievable and eerily prescient all at once.” – Vogue

“Chan’s stunning debut could not be timelier, leaving no stone unturned in its allusion to the real-life legal assaults constraining women today. Part-dystopian, part-prescient, impossible to put down and impossible to forget.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Enthralling… Woven seamlessly throughout are societal assumptions and stereotypes about mothers, especially mothers of color, and their consequences. Chan’s imaginative flourishes render the mothers’ vulnerability to social pressures and governmental whims nightmarish and palpable. It’s a powerful story, made more so by its empathetic and complicated heroine.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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The Starless Crown by  James Rollins

Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Suspense.

starless crownA gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

Who will claim the starless crown?

Description from Goodreads.

“An interesting blend of science and magic, flying ships and prophetic gods, propel this fantasy into epic territories.” – Library Journal

“Fun… the fantastical creatures and landscapes are imaginative… Readers looking for plot-driven fantasy will enjoy the action.” – Publishers Weekly

“An action-filled fantasy quest that is gripping and thought-provoking. The high stakes and smooth writing made it a page turner… As in his thrillers, he includes science, historical secrets, and suspense.” – Mystery & Suspense

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When You Are Mine by  Michael Robotham

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

when you are minePhilomena McCarthy is a young, ambitious police officer with the elite Metropolitan Police in London. When she responds to a domestic violence call, she finds the victim, Tempe Brown, trying to protect her abuser, a married man named Darren Goodall, a decorated Scotland Yard detective afraid of no one. As Philomena pursues the case against him, she not only encounters resistance from her police force colleagues but also becomes dangerously entangled with the victim—who is not at all whom she appears to be—much to the increasing endangerment of herself and Henry, her fiancée.

Complicating matters is Philomena’s estranged father Edward McCarthy, a powerful man who has built a criminal empire along with his brothers. Philomena has long tried to pursue her career as a police officer without her father’s involvement, but as she falls under suspicion of stalking and harassing Goodall, her father becomes involved.

As the situation escalates, Tempe’s sinister maneuvers further entangle Philomena in a web of secrets, corruption, and murder, putting Philomena’s impending marriage, career, and very survival in jeopardy…​

Spellbinding, suspenseful, and filled with complex characters that could be heroes or villains, Robotham has crafted a smart and propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] expertly paced first-person narrative… Sidestepping all the clichés—the tough-girl humor is perfectly pitched and never overdone—the novel is as psychologically nuanced and emotionally engaging as it is suspenseful… A flawless and compassionate psychological thriller.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] nail-biter… Robotham tightens the screws on his sympathetic lead incrementally as the action builds to a satisfying climax. Lisa Unger fans will be riveted.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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When You Get the Chance by  Emma Lord

Fiction / Young Adult / Romance.

when you get the chanceNothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.

There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Description from Goodreads.

“Brimming with energy, rapid-fire banter, and affectionate theater references, this memorable Mamma Mia! retelling by Lord (Tweet Cute) explores the meaning of family.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Chock-full of musical theater references and humor, the novel includes high-stakes emotional drama that is balanced by supportive friendships and strong, deep family connections… An entertaining personal journey with plot twists galore.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With the perfect mix of a bubbly drama queen protagonist that will steal your heart and a delicious rivals-to-lovers romance with a Broadway twist on top, Lord proves herself to be a necessary staple in the YA contemporary genre with When You Get the Chance―a fresh, uplifting voice that invokes excitement of what’s yet to come!” – The NERD Daily

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2 thoughts on “Best New Books: Week of 1/4/22

    1. You can! If you aren’t planning on being there long it might not get there before you leave however.

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