Best New Books: Week of 5/17/22

“It’s a powerful moment, when you discover a vocabulary exists for something you’d thought incommunicably unique. Personally, I felt it reading Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. I have friends who’ve found themselves described in everything from science fiction to detective novels. This self-recognition through others is not simply a by-product of art — it’s the whole point.” – Phil Klay

Bloomsbury Girls by  Natalie Jenner

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances – most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others – these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Description from Goodreads.

“An illuminating yarn… Fans of emotional historical fiction will be charmed.” – Publishers Weekly

“Jenner follows The Jane Austen Society with another top-notch reading experience, using the same deft hand at creating complex, emotionally engaging characters [against] a backdrop chock-full of factual historical information… Fans of Christina Baker Kline, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff [will] appreciate this gem.” –Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Jenner has penned a beautiful tribute to women writers, bookshops, and booklovers with a nostalgic and captivating style in a novel that will become a fan favorite. ” – Silver Petticoat Review

The Cherry Robbers by  Sarai Walker

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Horror.

New Mexico, 2017: Sylvia Wren is one of the most important American artists of the past century. Known as a recluse, she avoids all public appearances. There’s a reason: she’s living under an assumed identity, having outrun a tragic past. But when a hungry journalist starts chasing her story, she’s confronted with whom she once was: Iris Chapel.

Connecticut, 1950: Iris Chapel is the second youngest of six sisters, all heiresses to a firearms fortune. They’ve grown up cloistered in a palatial Victorian house, mostly neglected by their distant father and troubled mother, who believes that their house is haunted by the victims of Chapel weapons. The girls long to escape, and for most of them, the only way out is marriage. But not long after the first Chapel sister walks down the aisle, she dies of mysterious causes, a tragedy that repeats with the second, leaving the rest to navigate the wreckage, to heart-wrenching consequences.

Ultimately, Iris flees the devastation of her family, and so begins the story of Sylvia Wren. But can she outrun the family curse forever?

Description from Goodreads.

“Delightfully eerie… This uncanny tale of dark origins shines brightly.” – Publishers Weekly

“Walker’s take on the classic Gothic tale fairly shimmers, titillating with a heady concoction of terror and desire, frothy with fever-pitched emotions, and dark with smothering melancholy and macabre spectres.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This gorgeously written and all-consuming gothic explores feminism and sexuality and left me more than a little heartbroken.” – BuzzFeed

Family Album: Stories by  Gabriela Alemán, translated by  Mary Ellen Fieweger


Family Album is Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s rollicking follow-up to her acclaimed English-language debut, Poso Wells.

Alemán is known for her spirited and sardonic take on the fatefully interconnected—and often highly compromised—forces at work in present-day South America, and particularly in Ecuador. In this collection of eight hugely entertaining short stories, she teases tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, satire, and adventure narratives to recast the discussion of national identity. A muddy brew of pop-culture and pop-folklore yields intriguing, lesser-known episodes of contemporary Ecuadorian history, along with a rich cast of unforgettable characters whose intimate stories open up onto a vista of Ecuador’s place on the world stage.

From a pair of deep-sea divers using Robinson Crusoe’s map of a shipwreck to locate sunken treasure in the Galapagos Archipelago, to a night with the husband of Ecuador’s most infamous expat, Lorena Bobbit, this series of cracked “family portraits” provides a cast of picaresque heroes and anti-heroes in stories that sneak up on a reader before they know what’s happened: they’ve learned a great deal about a country whose more well known exports—soccer, coffee and cocoa—mask an intriguing national story that’s ripe for the telling.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] sparkling collection [that] brims with humor and adventure… Alemán’s sly wit and descriptive power… portray the beauty and ravages of South America. This dynamic collection has a lot to offer.” – Publishers Weekly

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice by  Robert Samuels &  Toluse Olorunnipa

Nonfiction / Biography / Current events.

The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off a series of protests in the United States and around the world, awakening millions to the dire need for reimagining this country’s broken systems of policing. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man’s stolen life: a life beset by suffocating systemic pressures that ultimately proved inescapable.

This biography of George Floyd shows the athletic young boy raised in the projects of Houston’s Third Ward who would become a father, a partner, a friend, and a man constantly in search of a better life. In retracing Floyd’s story, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa bring to light the determination Floyd carried as he faced the relentless struggle to survive as a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the larger context of America’s deeply troubled history of institutional racism, His Name Is George Floyd examines the Floyd family’s roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his Houston schools, the overpolicing of his communities, the devastating snares of the prison system, and his attempts to break free from drug dependence–putting today’s inequality into uniquely human terms. Drawing upon hundreds of interviews and extensive original reporting, Samuels and Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd’s America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.

Description from Goodreads.

“[T]he definitive work on who Floyd was and what his murder triggered. Gripping, heartbreaking, revelatory.” – Oprah Daily

“This gripping oral history offers a behind-the-scenes look at the man, his loved ones and community, and the aftermath of his horrific death… A wrenching chronicle of one of the most devastating events of our time… vital and illuminating.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Impeccably researched… Interwoven with the biographical details are incisive sketches of the political and historical events that have shaped life for Floyd’s family and other Black Americans. This multifaceted and exceptionally informative account is both a moving testament to Floyd and a devastating indictment of America’s racial inequities.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Island by  Adrian McKinty

Fiction / Suspense / Horror.

After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.

When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.

But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.

When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.

Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.

Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.

Description from Goodreads.

“A tense, adrenaline-fueled thriller.” – Time

Deliverance meets The Road Warrior in this harrowing survival thriller… McKinty is a master of suspense.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Expertly choreographed and breathlessly exciting… both the peril and the family are like no other. The Chain was McKinty’s breakthrough novel and this one could be every bit as big.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Lost Summers of Newport by  Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, &  Karen White

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery.

2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America’s most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, summer resort of America’s gilded class–famous for the lavish “summer cottages” of Vanderbilts and Belmonts. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia “Lucky” Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One, nobody speaks to her. Two, nobody touches the mansion’s ruined boathouse.

1899: Ellen Daniels has been hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive young Colorado mining heiress whose stepbrother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport’s elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the deceptively demure Ellen has her own checkered past, and she’s hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall.

1958: Lucia “Lucky” Sprague has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When she and her grandmother–the American-born Princess di Conti–fled Mussolini’s Italy, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house Nana owned but hadn’t seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, Lucky’s lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set by marrying Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily. But one fateful night in the mansion’s old boathouse will uncover a devastating truth… and change everything she thought she knew about her past.

As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever…

Description from Goodreads.

“Three stories elegantly intertwine in this clever and stylish tale of murder and family lies from Williams, Willig, and White… This crackerjack novel offers three mysteries for the price of one.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by  Selma Blair ★

Nonfiction / Memoir / Film.

Selma Blair has played many archetypal roles: Gullible ingenue in Cruel Intentions. Preppy ice queen in Legally Blonde. Fire-starter in Hellboy. Muse to Karl Lagerfeld. Face of Chanel. Cover model. Advocate for the multiple sclerosis community. But before all of that, Selma was known best for being one thing: a mean baby. In a memoir that is as wildly funny as it is emotionally shattering, Selma Blair tells the captivating story of growing up and finding her truth.

The first story Selma Blair Beitner ever heard about herself is that she was a mean, mean baby. With her mouth pulled in a perpetual snarl and a head so furry it had to be rubbed to make way for her forehead, Selma spent years living up to her terrible reputation: biting her sisters, lying spontaneously, getting drunk from Passover wine at the age of seven, and behaving dramatically so that she would be the center of attention. Although Selma went on to become a celebrated Hollywood actress and model, she could never quite shake the periods of darkness that overtook her, the certainty that there was a great mystery at the heart of her life. She often felt like her arms might be on fire, a sensation not unlike electric shocks, and she secretly drank to escape. Over the course of this beautiful and, at times, shocking memoir, Selma lays bare her addiction to alcohol, her devotion to her brilliant and complicated mother, and the moments she flirted with death. There is brutal violence, passionate love, true friendship, the gift of motherhood, and, finally, the simultaneous devastation and surprising salvation of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. In a voice that is powerfully original, fiercely intelligent, and full of hard-won wisdom, Selma Blair’s Mean Baby is a deeply human memoir and a true literary achievement.

Description from Goodreads.

“A generous, moving book.” – New York Times

“If you thought you knew Selma Blair, think again.” – Marie Claire

“…intensely self-aware and cheerfully self-revealing… Blair’s wry humor and her chatty, confiding tone make you feel that you’re spending 300 pages with a smart and, yes, slightly bratty new friend.” – Washington Post

“Actress Selma Blair always thought of herself as a sidekick or character actress, never a leading lady, but in this illuminating and authentic memoir, she takes center stage as the teller of her own story… The book’s first and third parts, covering her childhood and her MS diagnosis (along with the birth of her son), respectively, are spellbinding… A compelling story… remarkably good writing.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Mirror Made of Rain by  Naheed Phiroze Patel


Despite an embarrassing, alcoholic mother, Noomi Wadia is loathe to change her own hard-partying ways simply because it’s what’s expected in Kamalpur high society. As her peers begin to marry and her social obligations become more fraught, she finds herself under constant scrutiny at summer parties of the city’s upper crust.

With her options in her hometown growing increasingly limited, Noomi leaves for Mumbai and quickly becomes a successful journalist. There she falls in love with Veer, who appreciates her for exactly who she is. When Noomi and Veer decide to marry, Noomi must observe a host of patriarchal wedding rituals at the behest of her new in-laws, whose cultural customs deviate from her own. Soon, Noomi realizes that her worst fears have come to pass–she is trapped in the same cycle of self-destructiveness as her mother, and she must battle her impulses or risk losing it all.

A riveting exploration of class and tradition in contemporary India, Noomi is as quick-witted as she is quick-tempered. At times funny and tragic, taking place over many years of Noomi’s life, Naheed Phiroze Patel’s exhilarating debut novel shows how society encourages us to see ourselves through the eyes of others.

Description from Goodreads.

“…gut-wrenching… Patel succeeds in depicting the ways the upper class can be a gilded cage for women: while men enjoy the freedom of public life and conspicuous consumption, the women are merely another thing to be judged, used, and discarded: ‘Women are Bombay real estate,’ says Noomi’s cousin. It’s a chilling story.” – Publishers Weekly

“Patel has given us a dark, moody, brooding novel that explores the fissures of family with delicacy and conviction.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

“[The] setting and character portrayal are all on point and the story of a troubled family moves well. The characters arouse curiosity and we want to know how far the author will take them or restore their sense of self, whether they will find peace or happiness or band-aid their damaged parts.” – Hindustan Times

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef by  Kwame Onwuachi with  Joshua David Stein

Nonfiction / Cooking / Travel.

What is American food? In his first cookbook, Kwame Onwuachi (“the most important chef in America” – San Francisco Chronicle), the acclaimed author of Notes from a Young Black Chef, shares the dishes of his America; dishes that show the true diversity of American food.

Featuring more than 125 recipes, My America is a celebration of the food of the African Diaspora, as handed down through Onwuachi’s own family history, spanning Nigeria to the Caribbean, the South to the Bronx, and beyond. From Nigerian Jollof, Puerto Rican Red Bean Sofrito, and Trinidadian Channa (Chickpea) Curry to Jambalaya, Baby Back Ribs, and Red Velvet Cake, these are global home recipes that represent the best of the patchwork that is American cuisine.

Interwoven throughout the book are stories of Onwuachi’s travels, illuminating the connections between food and place, and food and culture. The result is a deeply personal tribute to the food of “a land that belongs to you and yours and to me and mine.”

Description from Goodreads.

“Flat-out delicious… [A] cookbook that, in its own way, asserts the right to weave a personal cuisine from a blend of ancestral recipes, diverse influences and idiosyncratic obsessions… Onwuachi’s pantry is a family tree with roots in the American South, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Nigeria and beyond.” – Wall Street Journal

“Have a quart of shrimp stock ready: We’re making gumbo this weekend… After a few pages, I couldn’t get Onwuachi’s voice out of my ear—Ethiopian braised short ribs are ‘achingly tender and totally on fire’—and I couldn’t shake the sudden urge to fill my fridge with remoulade and jerk paste.” – Bon Appetit

“Kwame Onwuachi takes us on a journey through personal taste memories from the Bronx, down to Texas, and across to ancient lands of Nigeria and the Caribbean. Vibrant and unique recipes like Cucumber and Avocado Salad tempered with a gooseberry peri-peri call back ancestral knowledge that he marries with his own unique experiences and culinary genius.” – Food & Wine

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by  Alison Espach

Fiction / Romance.

The summer before Sally Holt starts the eighth grade begins as a gloriously uneventful one. It’s full of family trips to the beach and long afternoons at the local pool with her older sister Kathy, which they mostly use as an excuse to ogle Billy Barnes, who works the concession stand there. A rising senior and local basketball star, Billy has been an unending source of intrigue for both girls since he jumped off the school roof in fifth grade, and their fascination with him is one of the few things the increasingly different sisters have in common. By summer’s end Billy and Kathy are an item—an unthinkable stroke of luck that ends in an even more unthinkable tragedy.

Set over the course of fifteen years, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is narrated by Sally as she addresses Kathy before, during, and after her death. We watch as Kathy’s absence creates a gaping hole that only Billy—now firmly off-limits to Sally—understands and might possibly begin to fill. Charting years of their shared history and missed connections, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is both a breathtaking love story between two broken people who are unexplainably, inconveniently drawn to each other, and a wry, sharply observant coming-of-age story that looks at the ways the people we love the most continue to shape our lives long after they’re gone.

Description from Goodreads.

“This tragicomic bildungsroman in the shadow of loss will invade your heart and hold on tight.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Inventive and powerful… Espach captures the minutiae of love and loss with unflinching clarity and profound compassion, and pulls off the second-person point of view unusually well. Readers will be deeply moved.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A marvelous exercise in voice… Never contrived, the novel is beautifully written, making even the quotidian details of Sally’s life fascinating, in part because the story invites such a deep emotional involvement with the fully realized characters and, indeed, with the entirety of this splendid and memorable book.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by  Jenna Fischer &  Angela Kinsey

Nonfiction / MEmoir / Comedy / Television.

An intimate, behind-the-scenes, richly illustrated celebration of beloved The Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey’s friendship, and an insiders’ view of Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and the unforgettable cast of the hit series’ iconic characters. Featuring many never-before-seen photos.

Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series’ run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet—plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms—The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladies podcast.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of The Office are in for a real treat.” – AV Club

“…highly entertaining… This is a must-read for fans.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] charming book… Fischer and Kinsey, co-hosts of the Office Ladies podcast, are engaging storytellers, and their often hilarious escapades as best friends make this joint tale fascinating for even the most casual fan of The Office… Ultimately, the authors manage to make everyone feel like they are also one of their BFFs. A smart, sweet look from inside The Office about how the show spawned enduring friendships and unexpected careers.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by  Candice Millard

Nonfiction / History / biography. 

The Nile River is the longest in the world. Its fertile floodplain allowed the rise of the great civilization of ancient Egypt, but for millennia the location of its headwaters was shrouded in mystery. Pharaonic and Roman attempts to find it were stymied by a giant labyrinthine swamp, and subsequent expeditions got no further. In the 19th century, the discovery and translation of the Rosetta Stone set off a frenzy of interest in ancient Egypt. At the same time, European powers sent off waves of explorations intended to map the unknown corners of the globe – and extend their colonial empires.

Two British men – Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke – were sent by the Royal Geographical Society to claim the prize for England. Burton was already famous for being the first non-Muslim to travel to Mecca, disguised as an Arab chieftain. He spoke twenty-nine languages, was a decorated soldier, and literally wrote the book on sword-fighting techniques for the British Army. He was also mercurial, subtle, and an iconoclastic atheist. Speke was a young aristocrat and Army officer determined to make his mark, passionate about hunting, Burton’s opposite in temperament and beliefs.

From the start the two men clashed, Speke chafing under Burton’s command and Burton disapproving of Speke’s ignorance of the people whose lands through which they traveled. They would endure tremendous hardships, illness, and constant setbacks. Two years in, deep in the African interior, Burton became too sick to press on, but Speke did, and claimed he found the source in a great lake that he christened Lake Victoria. When they returned to England, Speke rushed to take credit, disparaging Burton. Burton disputed his claim, and Speke launched another expedition to Africa to prove it. The two became venomous enemies, with the public siding with the more charismatic Burton, to Speke’s great envy. The day before they were to publicly debate, Speke shot himself.

Yet there was a third man on both expeditions, his name obscured by imperial annals, whose exploits were even more extraordinary. This was Sidi Mubarak Bombay, who was enslaved and shipped from his home village in East Africa to India. When the man who purchased him died, he made his way into the local Sultan’s army, and eventually traveled back to Africa, where he used his resourcefulness, linguistic prowess and raw courage to forge a living as a guide. Without his talents, it is likely that neither Englishman would have come close to the headwaters of the Nile, or perhaps even survived.

In River of the Gods Candice Millard has written another peerless story of courage and adventure, set against the backdrop of the race to exploit Africa by the colonial powers.

Description from Goodreads.

“An engrossing, sharply drawn adventure tale.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“It’s been nearly six years since popular Millard published Hero of the Empire, and eager fans and armchair travelers will gladly sign up for this enthralling and heartbreaking adventure.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“…fascinating… Millard’s lushly detailed adventure story keeps a steady eye on the racial power dynamics involved in this imperialist endeavor and brilliantly illuminates the characters of Burton, Speke, and Bombay. Readers will be riveted.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

She Is Haunted: Stories by  Paige Clark


With remarkable grace and an assured style, She Is Haunted masterfully grapples with charged mother-daughter dynamics, grief, exes, and the complexities of friendship in a debut collection of stories that range from competitive call centers to Chinatown restaurants.

A ballerina nurses an injured leg and struggles to learn Cantonese while her husband dances on an international tour of Don Quixote with a new female lead; a mother cuts her daughter’s hair because her own hair begins falling out; a woman undergoes brain surgery in order to live more comfortably in higher temperatures; a woman attempts to physically transform into her husband so that she does not have to grieve.

Praised as the “strongest fiction debut” of the year in the Sydney Morning Herald and shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, the stories collected in She Is Haunted deal with transnational Asian identity and intergenerational trauma with an unforgettable voice and exuberant wit that mark Paige Clark as an entrancing new literary talent.

Description from Goodreads.

“Clark’s fresh debut collection of 18 stories is focused on themes of family, loss, trauma, longing, resilience, climate and gender in prose that is witty, disarming and completely engrossing.” – Ms.

“In turns devastating and hilarious, Clark’s exceptional debut collection cuts right to the emotional core of its characters and their conflicts in stories that examine Asian identity, familial relationships, climate anxiety, and gender with an astonishing sense of nuance and clarity… With a striking style, Clark consistently hits her mark, sticking each landing with breathtaking poignancy. This will not disappoint.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Many Elizabeths appear in Paige Clark’s collection. They are zany, tender, slyly wise, and always enchanting. I laughed! I cried! And I winced knowingly along as they plunge into the mysteries of diasporic identity, intimacy, and loss. Mothers and daughters come together, fall apart. Lovers charm and feint. They haunt me, in the best possible way.” – Entertainment Weekly

Something Wilder by  Christina Lauren

Fiction / Romance / Suspense.

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

Description from Goodreads.

“The bestselling author duo returns with an unexpectedly dramatic contemporary romance. The tone veers from lighthearted rom-com to high octane romantic suspense as the danger ramps up and Lauren packs the plot with quirky characters, vivid scenery, and sizzling sexual tension. This tense, poignant romance is another sure hit for Lauren.” – Publishers Weekly

“Writing duo Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs strike gold again in this thrilling contemporary romance set in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Equal parts exhilarating puzzle-filled adventure and steamy second-chance romance, this cinematic wild-west rom-com is a must-have.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Fans of Christina Lauren, known for their delightful rom-coms, may be surprised by this shift into the world of adventure romance. It should be a pleasant surprise, though, given that the story is fast-paced, exciting, and still full of that classic Christina Lauren swoon (in between the danger, occasional violence, and plot twists). Lily and Leo’s romance is plenty steamy, but the real star is the landscape, which is described in sweltering, dusty detail. A vivid escape that’s perfect for romantic thrill-seekers.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

The Stardust Thief by  Chelsea Abdullah

Fiction / Fantasy.

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Description from Goodreads.

“Abdullah writes stories like a sparkling, burning thing painted against the pitch-black night, ever out of our reach. Gently touched with lyrical writing, Abdullah’s talent is making you feel like magic exists.” – BuzzFeed

“Abdullah’s Sandsea Trilogy kicks off with a beautifully crafted novel heavily influenced by the art of storytelling and personal narrative… Abdullah is a gifted storyteller, weaving together three disparate points of view in order to bring to life a rich world, rife with magic, where anything that can be dreamed up can happen.” – Booklist

“…nods to such classic tales from One Thousand and One Nights as ‘Aladdin’, ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’, and the framing tale of Scheherazade, but then charts its own thrilling territory…. A marvelous plunge into a beautifully crafted adventure.” – Kirkus Reviews

This Time Tomorrow by  Emma Straub ★

Fiction / Science Fiction.

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

Description from Goodreads.

“Dig out your old band T’s and crack open this charming family saga… Unlike other time travel stories, this one’s not about figuring out how to get back to the present but how to appreciate it when you do.” – Good Housekeeping

“A moving story about a father-daughter relationship… chronicles what happens when one 40-year-old woman wakes up and is suddenly 16 years old again. But it’s not her youth she’s riveted by—it’s her father’s.” – Marie Claire

“Known for her plucky voice and sweetly amusing ensemble comedies, Emma Straub returns with her most emotionally resonant work yet… Beneath the layers of ’90s nostalgia and sci-fi portals to the past lies something even more satisfying: a complicated tale that doesn’t feel the slightest bit complicated.” – Vogue

“This addictive and lovely novel is Straub’s ‘smallest’ so far, focusing ultimately on a single character and her most treasured relationship. Yet it contains no less of Straub’s signature warmth and authenticity.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Translating Myself and Others by  Jhumpa Lahiri ★

Nonfiction / Writing.

Translating Myself and Others is a collection of candid and disarmingly personal essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who reflects on her emerging identity as a translator as well as a writer in two languages.

With subtlety and emotional immediacy, Lahiri draws on Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus to explore the distinction between writing and translating, and provides a close reading of passages from Aristotle’s Poetics to talk more broadly about writing, desire, and freedom. She traces the theme of translation in Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and takes up the question of Italo Calvino’s popularity as a translated author. Lahiri considers the unique challenge of translating her own work from Italian to English, the question “Why Italian?,” and the singular pleasures of translating contemporary and ancient writers.

Featuring essays originally written in Italian and published in English for the first time, as well as essays written in English, Translating Myself and Others brings together Lahiri’s most lyrical and eloquently observed meditations on the translator’s art as a sublime act of both linguistic and personal metamorphosis.

Description from Goodreads.

“Digestible and approachable… the thought-provoking collection makes for a sharp and luminous exploration of Lahiri’s relationship to language, translation, and literature and made me want to finally tackle my goal of learning a second language.” – Apartment Therapy

“Lahiri explores her relationship with literature, translation, and the English and Italian languages in this exhilarating collection… Lucid and provocative, this is full of rewarding surprises.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The collection is singular for Lahiri’s ability to integrate the personal and the theoretical, drawing her examples from literature and from life… Lahiri writes so beautifully that this collection will have broad appeal for anyone interested in literary essays.” – Library Journal

Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War by  Phil Klay

Nonfiction / Military / Politics / Current Events / History.

When Phil Klay left the Marines a decade ago after serving as an officer in Iraq, he found himself a part of the community of veterans who have no choice but to grapple with the meaning of their wartime experiences–for themselves and for the country. American identity has always been bound up in war–from the revolutionary war of our founding, to the civil war that ended slavery, to the two world wars that launched America as a superpower. What did the current wars say about who we are as a country, and how should we respond as citizens?

Unlike in previous eras of war, relatively few Americans have had to do any real grappling with the endless, invisible conflicts of the post-9/11 world; in fact, increasingly few people are even aware they are still going on. It is as if these wars are a dark star with a strong gravitational force that draws a relatively small number of soldiers and their families into its orbit while remaining inconspicuous to most other Americans. In the meantime, the consequences of American military action abroad may be out of sight and out of mind, but they are very real indeed.

This chasm between the military and the civilian in American life, and the moral blind spot it has created, is one of the great themes of Uncertain Ground, Phil Klay’s powerful series of reckonings with some of our country’s thorniest concerns, written in essay form over the past ten years. In the name of what do we ask young Americans to kill, and to die? In the name of what does this country hang together? As we see at every turn in these pages, those two questions have a great deal to do with each another, and how we answer them will go a long way toward deciding where our troubled country goes from here.

Description from Goodreads.

“With care, Klay addresses questions of faith, guilt, and collective trauma, offering insights into military culture and the meaning of masculinity… Klay has written an important and eye-opening essay collection that should be a must-read.” – Library Journal

“An introspective collection of essays… Klay’s reassuring voice offers truth, hope, and ways forward during a challenging, polarized period in America.” – Booklist

“Marine Corps veteran and acclaimed writer Klay delivers a closely observed set of essays on an age of endless war… Klay’s incisive, grunt’s-eye perspective is too little heard or heeded. His topics take on larger issues, but they almost always return to that central point of view—whether it be the monasticism of military life, the militarization of the culture, or citizens’ easy access to military-grade weapons. A compelling critique of civilian foibles by a skilled writer well versed in carrying out civilian wishes in the field.” – Kirkus Reviews

We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by  Tsering Yangzom Lama

Fiction / Historical fiction.

In the wake of China’s invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. Now, Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and the memory of her mother, a village oracle-is trying to rebuild a life amid a shattered community. Lhamo finds hope in the arrival of a young man named Samphel, whose uncle brings with him an ancient statue of a nameless saint-a statue last seen in their village and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need.

Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo’s daughter Dolma in Toronto. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma is vying for a place as a scholar of Tibet Studies. But when Dolma comes across the statue of the nameless saint in a collector’s vault, she decides to reclaim it for her family and community, even if it means risking her dreams.

Breathtaking in its scope and powerful in its intimacy, We Measure the Earth with our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this novel provides a nuanced, moving portrait of the little-known world of Tibetan exiles.

Description from Goodreads.

“Evocative and often hauntingly poetic.” – California Review of Books

“The novel thrives as a story about sisterhood, parenthood, and the heart-piercing feeling of exile… A smart, sweeping story about the abuse and transformation of a culture stripped of its country.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This wildly beautiful novel, epic in scale, moves back and forth in time and across continents as it traces three generations of a Tibetan family and tells the story of their lives as exiles. The narrative, which begins with China’s 1959 invasion of Tibet, is gorgeously structured, the story told with tenderness and with a restrained but felt passion that makes the lives of its characters-their individuality as well as the cultural, historical, and familial bonds that shape their destinies-palpable. This is a magnificently textured and deeply affecting novel.” – Ploughshares

We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by  Simu Liu

Nonfiction / Memoir / Movies / Television.

Marvel’s newest recruit shares his own inspiring and unexpected origin story, from China to the bright lights of Hollywood. An immigrant who battles everything from parental expectations to cultural stereotypes, Simu Liu struggles to forge a path for himself, rising from the ashes of a failed accounting career (yes, you read that right) to become Shang-Chi.

Our story begins in the city of Harbin, where Simu’s parents have left him in the care of his grandparents while they seek to build a future for themselves in Canada. One day, a mysterious stranger shows up at the door; it’s Simu’s father, who whisks him away from the only home he had ever known and to the land of opportunity and maple syrup.

Life in the new world, however, is not all that it was cracked up to be; Simu’s new guardians lack the gentle touch of his grandparents, resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. His parents, on the other hand, find their new son emotionally distant and difficult to relate to – although they are related by blood, they are separated by culture, language, and values.

As Simu grows up, he plays the part of the pious son well; he gets A’s, crushes national math competitions, and makes his parents proud. But as time goes on, he grows increasingly disillusioned with the expectations placed on his shoulders, and finds it harder and harder to keep up the charade.

Barely a year out of college, his life hits rock bottom when he is laid off from his first job as an accountant. Unemployed, riddled with shame and with nothing left to lose, Simu finds an ad on Craigslist that will send him on a wildly unexpected journey, into the mysterious world of show business.

Through a swath of rejections and comical mishaps, it is ultimately Simu’s determination to carve out a path for himself that leads him to not only succeed as an actor, but also open the door to reconciling with his parents. After all, the courage to pursue his ambitions at all costs is something that he inherited from his parents, who themselves defied impossible odds in order to come to Canada.

We Were Dreamers is more than a celebrity memoir – it’s a story about growing up between cultures, finding your family, and becoming the master of your own extraordinary circumstance.

Description from Goodreads.

“Triumphant… This real-life hero’s journey is a knockout.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Liu’s story covers his youthful ‘triumphs’… and he writes frankly about the anti-Asian and anti-immigrant prejudice he has faced all his life. The smooth writing conveys both humor and hardship, with moments of reflection that any reader, even non-superheroes, will relate to.” – Booklist

“Delightful… Liu manages to tell a familiar story about growing up in an immigrant family without relying on stereotypes. He portrays his parents with empathy and complexity, focusing on their stories to help the reader understand their motivations. He addresses with thoughtful generosity the hard conversations he’s had with his parents about their (unfortunately not uncommon) abuse and how it affected him… But We Were Dreamers is also deeply funny… Liu is candid about his shortcomings and early career flops… Lest readers be skeptical of its genre, this book is a genuine memoir and not just a Hollywood autobiography… Fans of Liu will enjoy the intimate look into his life, but the memoir’s real strength is its ability to resonate even with those who are unfamiliar with his work.” – Boston Globe

You Have a Friend in 10A: Stories by  Maggie Shipstead


In this collection of dazzling stories, Maggie Shipstead’s prowess in short fiction is on full display for the first time. Diving into eclectic and vivid settings, from an Olympic village to a deathbed in Paris to a Pacific atoll, and illuminating a cast of indelible characters, Shipstead traverses ordinary and unusual realities with cunning, compassion, and wit.

In “Acknowledgments,” a male novelist reminisces bitterly on the woman who inspired his first novel, attempting to make peace with his humiliations before the book goes to print. In “The Cowboy Tango,” spanning decades in the open country of Montana, a triangle of love and self-preservation plays out among an aging rancher called the Otter, his nephew, and a young woman named Sammy who works the horses. In “La Moretta,” a couple’s honeymoon in the hills of Romania builds ominously into a moment of shattering tragedy. In the title story, a former child actress breaks with her life in a religious cult, narrating with mesmerizing candor a story of vulnerability, loss, and the surrealism of fame. You Have a Friend in 10A is sophisticated, gripping, and hilarious, with knockout after knockout: a collection to seal Shipstead’s reputation as a versatile master of fiction.

Description from Goodreads.

“In this follow-up to her Booker short-listed Great Circle, Shipstead displays luminous, exacting language as she demonstrates her flair for creating distinctive characters who deal more or less successfully with what life has handed them.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Acclaimed author Shipstead turns her considerable talent to the short story, offering readers this sweeping collection crafted over the course of a decade… an effortlessly transporting and piercing journey… Shipstead’s latest will find a home on bookshelves next to the work of Andre Dubus III, Jane Smiley, and Richard Russo.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The 10 stories in this daring, wide-ranging debut collection from Shipstead (after the novel Great Circle) resonate as they leap across time and space… The masterwork is the deeply unsettling ‘La Moretta.’ Interspersed with segments from an enigmatic inquisition, it documents a honeymoon excursion gone horribly wrong. Here and throughout, Shipstead demonstrates a remarkable ability to interlace the events of ordinary life with a mythological sense of preordained destruction. Both formally inventive and emotionally complex, this pays off with dividends.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW


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