Best New Books: Week of 7/12/22

“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.” – Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Any Other Family by  Eleanor Brown


They look just like any other family. But they aren’t a family like any other – not quite. Instead, they are three sets of parents who adopted four biological siblings, committing to keeping the children connected after the death of their grandmother.

Tabitha, who adopted the twins, is the planner of the group, responsible for coordinating playdates and birthdays and Sunday night dinners, insistent that everything happens just so. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, resists the forced togetherness, her own unsettled childhood leaving her wary of trusting too much. And Elizabeth is still reeling from going directly from failed fertility treatments into adopting a newborn, terrified that her unhappiness means she was not meant to be a mother at all.

But when the three women receive a surprising call from their children’s birth mother, announcing she is pregnant again and wants them to help her find an adoptive family for this child too, the delicate bonds they are still struggling to form threaten to collapse. As tensions rise, the women reckon with their own feelings about what it means to be a mother and what they owe each other as a family.

Set across the span of a family vacation, one full of boisterous laughter and emotional upheaval, Any Other Family is a thought-provoking and poignant look at how families shift and evolve and a striking portrait of motherhood in all its forms.

Description from Goodreads.

“A tearjerker that nails the issues of fertility, adopton, and raising kids, this is a conversation starter about parenthood you don’t want to miss.” – Real Simple

“Insightful… [Brown’s] characters wrestle convincingly and compassionately with the challenges of their particular experience… Thoughtful, compelling and ultimately hopeful, Any Other Family asks hard and necessary questions about adoption, privilege and what truly makes a family.” – Shelf Awareness

“[A] treat of a novel… [Brown] examines the pressures placed on mothers while considering what makes a family and comes up with a wonderful answer: commitment and love.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Best is Yet to Come by  Debbie Macomber

Fiction / Romance.

A new beginning in charming Oceanside, Washington, is exactly what Hope Godwin needs after the death of her twin brother. There are plenty of distractions, like her cozy cottage with the slightly nosy landlords next door, and a brewing drama among her students at the local high school.

Despite having settled quickly into the community, something is still missing for Hope. That is, until her landlord convinces her to volunteer at his animal shelter. There she meets Shadow, a rescue dog that everyone has given up on. But true to her name, Hope believes he’s worth saving.

Like Shadow, shelter volunteer Cade Lincoln Jr., is suffering with injuries most can’t see. A wounded ex-marine, Cade identifies with Shadow, assuming they are both beyond help. Hope senses that what they each need is someone to believe in them, and she has a lot of love to give. As she gains Shadow’s trust, Hope notices Cade begins to open up as well. Finding the courage to be vulnerable again, Cade and Hope take steps toward a relationship, and Hope finally begins to feel at peace in her new home.

But Hope’s new happiness is put to the test when Cade’s past conflicts resurface, and Hope becomes embroiled in the escalating situation at the high school. Love and compassion are supposed to heal all wounds. But are they enough to help Hope and Cade overcome the pain of their past and the obstacles in the way of a better future?

Description from Goodreads.

“A story that focuses on the idea of redemption through love and understanding.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fan favorite Macomber brings sweetness and sensitivity to this weighty military family romance… Macomber gracefully deals with the harsh realities of grief; it’s easy to empathize with her struggling protagonists, and though their relationship is realistically rocky, readers will have no trouble rooting for their happy ending. The result is a deeply moving contemporary.” – Publishers Weekly

“Macomber has written another sure-to-be bestseller full of inspiring characters who face the complicated task of dealing with the aftermath of tragedies and facing new beginnings… a wonderful inspirational read that has just enough romance as the characters heal their painful emotional wounds.” – Library Journal

Brother Alive by  Zain Khalid


In 1990, three boys are born, unrelated but intertwined by circumstance: Dayo, Iseul, and Youssef. They are adopted as infants and live in a shared bedroom perched atop a mosque in one of Staten Island’s most diverse and precarious neighborhoods, Coolidge. The three boys are an inseparable if conspicuous trio: Dayo is of Nigerian origin, Iseul is Korean, and Youssef indeterminately Middle Eastern. Nevertheless, Youssef is keeping a secret: he sees a hallucinatory double, an imaginary friend who seems absolutely real, a shapeshifting familiar he calls Brother.

The boys’ adoptive father, Imam Salim, is known for his radical sermons, but at home he is often absent, spending long evenings in his study with whiskey-laced coffee, writing letters to his former compatriots back in Saudi Arabia. Like Youssef, he too has secrets, including the cause of his failing health and the truth about what happened to the boys’ parents. When Imam Salim’s path takes him back to Saudi Arabia, the boys will be forced to follow. There they will be captivated by an opulent, almost futuristic world, a linear city that seems to offer a more sustainable modernity than that of the West. But they will have to change if they want to survive in this new world, and the arrival of a creature as powerful as Brother will not go unnoticed.

Stylistically brilliant and intellectually acute, Brother Alive is a remarkable novel of family, capitalism, power, sexuality, and the possibility of reunion for those who are broken.

Description from Goodreads.

“Bursting with imagination.” – New York Times

“In this auspicious debut, Khalid unfurls a beguiling story involving a Staten Island imam’s secrets… Khalid brilliantly reveals new shades of truth from each character’s point of view, and perfectly integrates the many ideas about capitalism and religious extremism into an enthralling narrative. It’s a tour de force.”- Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“One the most exciting debuts in recent years… Khalid’s vision can be bleak, even cynical, but it’s also remarkably cogent and underscored with a profound tenderness. It’s a love story—many times over, actually—wrapped inside a searing indictment, a rage against the many machines that would sacrifice people at the altar of capital. That Khalid executes a novel this intricate, elegant, and compassionate with such masterly prose all but guarantees that this will be one of the finest works of literature this year. Blisteringly intelligent, bursting with profound feeling, and host to some of the most complex, necessary characters in recent memory.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir by  Erika L. Sánchez ★

Nonfiction / Memoir.

Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago in the ’90s, Erika Sánchez was a self-described pariah, misfit, and disappointment—a foul-mouthed, melancholic rabble-rouser who painted her nails black but also loved comedy, often laughing so hard with her friends that she had to leave her school classroom. Twenty-five years later, she’s now an award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, but she’s still got an irrepressible laugh, acerbic wit, and singular powers of perception about the world around her.

In these essays, Sánchez writes about everything from sex to white feminism to debilitating depression, revealing an interior life rich with ideas, self-awareness, and perception. Raunchy, insightful, unapologetic, and brutally honest, Crying in the Bathroom is Sánchez at her best—a book that will make you feel that post-confessional high that comes from talking for hours with your best friend.

Description from Goodreads.

“To make your readers crack up while also discussing weighty topics like sexism, racism, and depression is no easy task, but it’s one Erika L. Sánchez is well equipped for… she has written a memoir/essay collection that [is] poignant and bold.” – Literary Hub

“Her ability to relate to readers on a personal, intellectual, and cultural level is one of the book’s greatest achievements… An engrossing, accessible, heart-opening recollection of a fascinating life.” – Booklist

“Each essay feels like a conversation with a good friend, thanks to Sánchez’s warm and vulnerable writing.” – Time

“With animated, often hilarious, vignettes from a multicultural youth spent yearning for the solitude necessary for writing, Crying in the Bathroom finds the author immensely grateful for…a splendid study of her own and the sacrifices her hardworking parents made so their daughter could pursue her literary dreams and lead a life of the mind.” – Shelf Awareness

The Great Man Theory by  Teddy Wayne


Paul is a recently demoted adjunct instructor of freshman comp, a divorced but doting Brooklyn father, and a self-desc­ribed “curmudgeonly crank” cataloging his resentment of the priorities of modern life in a book called The Luddite Manifesto. Outraged by the authoritarian creeps ruining the country, he is determined to better the future for his young daughter, one aggrieved lecture at a time.

Shockingly, others aren’t very receptive to Paul’s scoldings. His child grows distant, preferring superficial entertainment to her father’s terrarium and anti-technological tutelage. His careerist students are less interested than ever in what he has to say, and his last remaining friends appear ready to ditch him. To make up for lost income, he moonlights as a ride-share driver and moves in with his elderly mother, whose third-act changes confound and upset him. As one indignity follows the next, and Paul’s disaffection with his circumstances and society mounts, he concocts a dramatic plan to right the world’s wrongs and give himself a more significant place in it.

Dyspeptically funny, bubbling over with insights into America’s cultural landscape and a certain type of cast-aside man who wants to rectify it, The Great Man Theory is the work of a brilliant, original writer at the height of his powers.

Description from Goodreads.

“There’s perhaps no living writer better at chronicling the most crucial emotional flash points of the young modern male than Teddy Wayne.” – AV Club

“Wayne turns the smug woundedness of the contemporary liberal into an amusing social comedy that is, at its finest, a worthy successor to those seriocomic novels of Bellow.” – New York Times

“A picture of the world as we know it, from the point of view of a funny, aggravating man, The Great Man Theory is an original and discomfiting portrait of the individual in the collective, as he tries to make his mark.” – Literary Hub

Into the Mist by  P.C. Cast

Fiction / Fantasy.

As men fall to the mist, the age of womankind begins to rise.

The world as we know it ends when an attack on the U.S. unleashes bombs that deliver fire and biological destruction. Along with sonic detonations and devastating earthquakes, the bombs have also brought the green mist. If breathed in, it is deadly to all men—but alters the body chemistry of many women, imbuing them with superhuman abilities.

A group of high school teachers heading home from a conference experiences firsthand the strength of these new powers. Mercury Rhodes is the Warrior, possessing heightened physical powers. Stella Carver is the Seer, with a sixth sense about the future. Imani Andrews is the Watcher, with a rare connection to the earth. Karen Gay is the Priestess, demonstrating a special connection with Spirits. And Gemma Jenkins is the Healer, a sixteen-year-old student who joins the group after losing her parents.

As they cross the Pacific Northwest, trying to find a safe place to ride out the apocalypse, the women soon learn they can’t trust anyone, and with fresh danger around every corner, it will take all their powers to save themselves—and possibly the world.

Description from Goodreads.

“Like a feminist manifesto turned into a B-movie roadtrip.” – Crossing the Pond

Into the Mist is an exciting apocalyptic novel in which the world grapples with sudden, devastating transformations.” – Foreword Reviews

“…fun… if snappy dialogue and proclamations of girl power are enough to win the day, they’ll succeed…” – Publishers Weekly

The It Girl by  Ruth Ware ★

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide… including a murder.

Description from Goodreads.

“Ware develops both the reader’s doubts about and concern for Hannah as the suspense builds gradually under a masterful barrage of red herrings… Riveting.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging… Delightfully readable.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This exceptional psychological thriller from Ware probes how much one can trust others—and one’s self… Alternating past and present chapters build toward a gripping denouement as nicely chosen details bring each character vividly to life. This showcases Ware’s gifts to the fullest.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Ware once again demonstrates her literary claim as the 21st century’s answer to Agatha Christie with this ingeniously crafted puzzler… Fans of Golden Age mysteries like Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night will love the book’s Oxford setting, while readers of trendy dark academia suspense novels, in the manner of Alex Michaelides’s The Maidens, will feel right at home. Top-drawer entertainment from a modern master of mystery.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Keeping Two by  Jordan Crane

Fiction / Graphic Novel.

A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers is individually forced to confront loss, grief, fear, and insecurities in unexpected and shocking ways.

Crane’s formal use of the comics medium — threading several timelines and the interior and exterior lives of its protagonists together to create an increasing, almost Hitchcockian sense of dread and paranoia — is masterful. But as the title hints, there are dualities at its core that make it one of the most exciting works of graphic literary fiction in recent memory, a brilliant adult drama that showcases a deep empathy and compassion for its characters as well as a visually arresting showcase of Crane’s considerable talents. Keeping Two is ostensibly a story about loss, but by the end, it just might also be about finding something along the way — something that had seemed irredeemable up to that point. In that way, it’s also a deeply romantic book.

Cartoonist Jordan Crane has been one of the most quietly influential comics-makers of the past quarter-century – in multiple senses of the word: as a cartoonist, a designer, an editor, a publisher, a printmaker, an advocate, an archivist, and more. But Keeping Two is his biggest project in close to two decades and will be one of the most anticipated graphic novels of 2022.

Description from Goodreads.

“Crane lets tiny moments swell into a flood of emotion in his most accomplished and moving work yet… a gently stunning meditation on loss, absence, and connection.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A magnificently multilayered graphic novel that empathically addresses the universal human fears of losing those most beloved.” – Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW

“Crane’s magnum opus is a stylistically adventurous evocation of how fear and grief create barriers to genuine intimacy. Not to be missed.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir by  Ingrid Rojas Contreras ★

Nonfiction / Memoir / History / Supernatural.

For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and ’90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother’s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called “the secrets” the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit “the secrets,” Rojas Contreras’ mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water.

This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to “the secrets.”

In 2012, spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey to Colombia to disinter Nono’s remains. With Mami as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often hilarious guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her mestizo family into two camps: those who believe “the secrets” are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse.

Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a healing art and an invitation to embrace the extraordinary.

Description from Goodreads.

“Striking… Beautifully written and layered, an empowering act of recovery and self-discovery.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“In this dazzling memoir, Ingrid Rojas Contreras delves into her family’s stories and history that far surpass the enchantment found in many novels.” – SheReads

“Rojas Contreras reacquaints herself with her family’s past, weaving their stories with personal narrative, unraveling legacies of violence, machismo and colonialism… In the process, she has written a spellbinding and genre-defying ancestral history.” – New York Times

“A spellbinding memoir that brings her extended family’s ancestral magic into the present day… Rojas Contreras adroitly deepens her fascinating family stories by placing them within resonant historical, cultural, and linguistic contexts… Rojas Contreras’ uncompromising look at the past and her vivid, crystalline prose illuminate these many dimensions of her memoir, making it a compulsively readable book about one family’s mystical experiences, one that has rightly earned recognition as one of the most anticipated titles of the summer.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Night Shift by  Natalka Burian

Fiction / Fantasy.

Only by traveling into the past can Jean discover a happy future…

Hidden behind back doors of bars and restaurants and theaters and shops all over New York City are shortcuts—secret passageways that allow you to jump through time and space to emerge in different parts of the city. No one knows where they came from, but there are rules—you can only travel through them one way and only at night.

When Jean’s work friend Iggy introduces her to the shortcuts, it’s to help shorten her commute between her night shifts bartending and her work at an upscale bakery. Jean is intrigued but has a hard time shaking the side effects—the shortcuts make her more talkative, more open to discussing her past and recalling memories she’s tried hard to forget.

When Iggy goes missing, Jean believes it’s related to the shortcuts and his growing obsession with them. But as she starts digging into their origins, she comes to find a strange connection between herself and the shortcuts. A shimmering, propulsive novel set in New York City during the early aughts and across time, The Night Shift shows that by confronting the past can we reshape our future.

Description from Goodreads.

“Burian explores the gritty underground of New York City in this ambitious novel… fans of classic alternate-history novels like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and Stephen King’s 11/22/63 will devour this one.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“… thrilling… A blast from start to finish.” – Red Carpet Crash

“…captivating, detail-rich… Blending women’s and speculative fiction, Burian draws readers along on Jean’s emotional path toward self-discovery and deeper understanding of the world around her. The vivid descriptions of New York bring the city to life, creating a character just as palpable as the others. Readers will be hooked.” – Publishers Weekly

Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings by  Chrysta Bilton

Nonfiction / Memoir.

What is a “normal family,” and how do you go about making one? Chrysta Bilton’s magnetic, larger-than-life mother, Debra, yearned to have a child, but as a single gay woman in 1980s California, she had few options. Until one day, while getting her hair done in a Beverly Hills salon, she met a man and instantly knew he was the one she’d been looking for. Beautiful, athletic, artistic, and from a well-to-do family, Jeffrey Harrison appeared to be Debra’s ideal sperm donor.

A verbal agreement, a couple of thousand in cash, and a few squirts of a turkey baster later, and Chrysta was conceived. Over the years, Jeffrey would make regular appearances at the family home, which grew to include Chrysta’s baby sister. But how much did Debra really know about the man she’d chosen to father her daughters? And as a single mother torn between ferocious independence and abject dependence—on other women, alcohol, drugs, and the adrenaline of get-rich-quick schemes—what secrets of her own was she keeping?

It wasn’t until Chrysta was a young adult that she discovered just how much her parents had hidden from their daughters—and each other—including a shocking revelation with far-reaching consequences not only for Debra, Chrysta, and her sister, but for dozens and possibly hundreds of unsuspecting families across the country. After a lifetime of longing for a “normal family,” can Chrysta face the reality of her own, in all its complexity?

Bringing us into the fold of a deeply dysfunctional yet fiercely loving clan that is anything but “normal,” this emotional roller coaster of a memoir will make you cry, laugh, and rethink the meaning of family.

Description from Goodreads.

“A wholly absorbing page-turner that everyone will want to read. You should probably buy two.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Eloquently written and compulsively readable, Bilton’s jaw-dropping coming-of-age memoir–and the love and survival found within its pages–is one readers won’t soon forget.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Normal Family is about one of the most atypical families one can imagine, and in that way, it’s certainly a page-turner. For most of the book, readers will simply have no idea where this wild tale is headed. But it also demonstrates that the most normal thing in the world is for a family to have—and overcome—its secrets.” – BookPage

Other Names for Love by  Taymour Soomro


At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s feudal estate in upcountry, Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive.

Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden.

Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.

Description from Goodreads.

“Soomro writes clean, vivid sentences and this novel has a certain elegance… Other Names for Love delivers one message powerfully: You will never, no matter how far away you get, be beyond your family’s power to wound.” – New York Times

“Soomro’s nuanced debut contends with themes of sexuality and masculinity in Pakistan… In sharp prose, Soomro brings clarity and emotional heft to Fahad’s wistfulness. This author is one to watch.” – Publishers Weekly

Other Names for Love sinks into a froth of emotion, whipping the senses and diluting reason. We’re left fighting for grip alongside Fahad, whose physical displacement is only the first step of a haunting emotional dislocation… The novel’s sweltry aura inflames its chaotic setting, darkens the yoke that blends human savagery with the predatory wilderness of upcountry Pakistan. It also exposes the suffocating view of masculinity nurtured within. This compression, when balanced against Fahad’s sensitivity, gains a slinking body of its own.” – Delphic Reviews

Our Wives Under the Sea by  Julia Armfield ★

Fiction / HOrror.

Leah is changed. Months earlier, she left for a routine expedition, only this time her submarine sank to the sea floor. When she finally surfaces and returns home, her wife Miri knows that something is wrong. Barely eating and lost in her thoughts, Leah rotates between rooms in their apartment, running the taps morning and night.

As Miri searches for answers, desperate to understand what happened below the water, she must face the possibility that the woman she loves is slipping from her grasp.

Description from Goodreads.

“Captivating and at times heartbreaking.” – SheReads

“Sublimely gorgeous… Readers are treated to a stunning love story about a couple trying to make sense of their new unfamiliar situation, while also learning about what happened to Leah on the ocean floor. It’s pretty much perfect.” – BookRiot

“A love story like no other… Armfield’s fantastic first novel is about the pockets of unknowability that pop up in even the longest intimacies, how marriage, like the ocean, is full of ‘the teeth it keeps half-hidden.’” – Electric Literature

“A moody and intimate debut novel, both a portrait of a marriage and a subtle horror fantasy…With echoes of Jules Verne, Thor Heyerdahl, H.P. Lovecraft, and the film Altered States, Armfield anchors the shudder-producing tale in authentic marine science and a deep understanding of human nature. This is mesmerizing.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“What happens to a marriage when one spouse is no longer the person you married?… Launching her book with epigraphs from both Moby-Dick and Jaws, Armfield guides the reader through the liminal spaces in the couple’s lives and approaches them with an occasionally ironic humor. The bleakest horror story can also be a love story; Armfield deftly illustrates how.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by  Becky Chambers ★

Fiction / Science Fiction.

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

Description from Goodreads.

“As charming and heartwarming as the first.” – BuzzFeed

“[A] hopeful glimpse at what our future might look like.” – Booklist

“Thoughtful, with a gentleness that is as encompassing as any action-filled work.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] lightly drawn but profound meditation on belief, entropy, and the nature of need and want that once again demonstrates Chambers’s prowess as both a storyteller and a thinker. Quiet and contemplative, empathic and warmhearted, this masterful sequel builds on the themes of the first volume to posit a more sustainable, more caring way of life. It’s both truly comforting and endlessly thought-provoking.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Remember Love by  Mary Balogh

Fiction / Romance / Historical Fiction.

As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenwood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.

So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.

It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?

Description from Goodreads.

“…stunningly emotional… Balogh again proves her mastery of Regency romance, expertly revealing her characters’ psychological depths. This second-chance love story proves impossible to put down.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“This book feels more like the old Balogh that I knew and loved in years past… Fans of Balogh will be glad to see her back in the game…” – Fresh Fiction

Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power, and Football in the American Heartland by  Nancy Schwartzman with  Nora Zelevansky

Nonfiction / True Crime / Sociology / Sports.

In football-obsessed Steubenville, Ohio, on a summer night in 2012, an incapacitated sixteen-year-old girl was repeatedly assaulted by members of the “Big Red” high school football team. They took turns documenting the crime and sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The victim, Jane Doe, learned the details via social media at a time when teens didn’t yet understand the lasting trail of their digital breadcrumbs. Crime blogger Alexandria Goddard, along with hacker collective Anonymous, exposed the photos, Tweets, and videos, making this the first rape case ever to go viral and catapulting Steubenville onto the national stage.

Filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman spent four years embedded in the town, documenting the case and its reverberations. Ten years after the assault, Roll Red Roll is the culmination of that research, weaving in new interviews and personal reflections to take readers beyond Steubenville to examine rape culture in everything from sports to teen dynamics. Roll Red Roll explores the factors that normalize sexual assault in our communities. Through inter-views with sportswriter David Zirin, victim’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and more, Schwartzman untangles the societal norms in which we too often sacrifice our daughters to protect our sons. With the Steubenville case as a flashpoint that helped spark the #MeToo movement, a decade later, Roll Red Roll focuses on the perpetrators and asks, can our society truly change?

Description from Goodreads.

Roll Red Roll is a searing account… Schwartzman’s sense of outrage fuels the narrative, but never overwhelms it. This tragic cautionary tale deserves a wide audience.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A scathing examination of American rape culture, promoted and abetted by athletics… A maddening, well-documented account of crime without punishment even as violence against women continues unabated.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Powerful and compelling… Schwartzman and her coauthor Zelevansky give readers an inside look at rape culture, victim blaming and shaming, and the need to provide comprehensive sex education… This first-rate book will appeal to anyone interested in feminism, women and gender studies, or criminal justice.” – Library Journal

Sister Mother Warrior by  Vanessa Riley

Fiction / Historical fiction.

Gran Toya: Born in West Africa, Abdaraya Toya was one of the legendary minos–women called “Dahomeyan Amazons” by the Europeans–who were specially chosen female warriors consecrated to the King of Dahomey. Betrayed by an enemy, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Toya wound up in the French colony of Saint Domingue, where she became a force to be reckoned with on its sugar plantations: a healer and an authority figure among the enslaved. Among the motherless children she helped raise was a man who would become the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. When the enslaved people rose up, Toya, ever the warrior, was at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history.

Marie-Claire: A free woman of color, Marie-Claire Bonheur was raised in an air of privilege and security because of her wealthy white grandfather. With a passion for charitable work, she grew up looking for ways to help those oppressed by a society steeped in racial and economic injustices. Falling in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, an enslaved man, was never the plan, yet their paths continued to cross and intertwine, and despite a marriage of convenience to a Frenchman, she and Dessalines had several children.

When war breaks out on Saint Domingue, pitting the French, Spanish, and enslaved people against one another in turn, Marie-Claire and Toya finally meet, and despite their deep differences, they both play pivotal roles in the revolution that will eventually lead to full independence for Haiti and its people.

Both an emotionally palpable love story and a detail-rich historical novel, Sister Mother Warrior tells the often-overlooked history of the most successful Black uprising in history. Riley celebrates the tremendous courage and resilience of the revolutionaries, and the formidable strength and intelligence of Toya, Marie-Claire, and the countless other women who fought for freedom.

Description from Goodreads.

“A gripping tale celebrating the strength and resilience of exceptional Black women… emotionally rich, deeply detailed, and unforgettable.” – Booklist

“Sweeping, powerful… Riley has written a well-researched gripping novel about an enslaved people gaining freedom, with the emotional connections among the main players as its beating heart.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“…ambitious… laden with vivid world building and detailed military strategy… Riley’s storytelling skills shine through, creating a compelling portrayal of two women who remain true to themselves under tremendous hardship… Sister Mother Warrior is an impeccably researched, powerfully reimagined tale of sacrifice and success, love and selfishness, and war and independence as experienced by the women behind the man who liberated Haiti from slavery.” – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

They Drown Our Daughters by  Katrina Monroe

Fiction / Horror / Fantasy.

If you can hear the call of the water,
it’s already far too late.

They say Cape Disappointment is haunted. That’s why tourists used to flock there in droves. They’d visit the rocky shoreline under the old lighthouse’s watchful eye and fish shells from the water as they pretended to spot dark shapes in the surf. Now the tourists are long gone, and when Meredith Strand and her young daughter return to Meredith’s childhood home after an acrimonious split from her wife, the Cape seems more haunted by regret than any malevolent force.

But her mother, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, is convinced the ghost stories are real. Not only is there something in the water, but it’s watching them. Waiting for them. Reaching out to Meredith’s daughter the way it has to every woman in their line for generations-and if Meredith isn’t careful, all three women, bound by blood and heartbreak, will be lost one by one to the ocean’s mournful call.

Part modern gothic, part ghost story, They Drown Our Daughters explores the depths of motherhood, identity, and the lengths a woman will go to hold on to both.

Description from Goodreads.

“A generation-spanning ghost story brimming with chills and family drama… themes of familial bonds and generational curses, along with its overall spooky atmosphere, should keep readers hooked until the end.” – Library Journal

“More than a century of loss related by narrators from different generations, combined with a malevolent ghost, gives this gothic read plenty of appeal for horror fans, while the family drama will compel readers of women’s fiction.” – Booklist

“A slow burn ghostly story that’s perfect for those who love a haunted seaside and mothers fighting for their daughters. It’s romantic, heartbreaking, scary, and beautifully written.” – Horrorbound

Upgrade by  Blake Crouch ★

Fiction / Science Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little… sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] nail-biting near-future science thriller… Crouch fully develops his alarming concept and its implications along with delivering masterful characterizations. This is the best yet from a creative and gifted author.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Mind-bending… an excellent follow-up to Crouch’s other dark-science novels… Will appeal to readers interested in climate fiction or superhero origin stories, as well as those who enjoy smart thrillers.” – Booklist

“High-octane action, some moral complexity, and a surprisingly emotional ending elevate this novel. Recommended—even for reluctant science fiction readers.” – Kirkus Reviews

Upgrade is unputdownable; an engrossing techno-thriller that is Limitless on steroids with a heart-racing, pulse-pounding race to the finish. If Andy Weir is the go-to for mind-blowing science thrillers set in space, Crouch has raised the bar for those set domestically.” – FanFiAddict

We Lie Here by  Rachel Howzell Hall

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

TV writer Yara Gibson’s hometown of Palmdale, California, isn’t her first choice for a vacation. But she’s back to host her parents’ twentieth-anniversary party and find the perfect family mementos for the celebration. Everything is going to plan until Yara receives a disturbing text: I have information that will change your life.

The message is from Felicia Campbell, who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara’s mother. But they’ve been estranged for years—drama best ignored and forgotten. But Yara can’t forget Felicia, who keeps texting, insisting that Yara talk to her “before it’s too late.”

But the next day is already too late for Felicia, whose body is found floating in Lake Palmdale. Before she died, Felicia left Yara a key to a remote lakeside cabin. In the basement are files related to a mysterious tragedy, unsolved since 1998. What secrets was Felicia hiding? How much of what Yara knows about her family has been true?

The deeper Yara digs for answers, the more she fears that Felicia was right. Uncovering the truth about what happened at the cabin all those years ago will change Yara’s life—or end it.

Description from Goodreads.

“Hall’s knack for creating driven, relatably vulnerable heroines like Yara is the key to this latest success.” – Booklist

“Hall exhibits a mastery of slowly building pressure-cooker tension until it explodes. A less accomplished writer might not have been able to be as convincing with occasional situational constructs that stretch credulity, but Hall pulls all of it off with aplomb. She remains a writer to watch.” – Publishers Weekly

“What’s most special about the book is the array of complex characters… The dialogue is sharp, observant, and emotional without ever straying into sentimentality, and the mystery of who is targeting the Gibson family manages to stay compelling despite many twists and turns… This captivating domestic thriller will keep you on your toes.” – Kirkus Reviews

What Moves the Dead by  T. Kingfisher ★

Fiction / Horror / Fantasy / Mystery.

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

Description from Goodreads.

“Kingfisher adds wonderful dimension and tangibility to the classic Poe story, filling it in with standout character work and scenic descriptions that linger on the palate, while fleshing out the original plot with elements as plausible as they are chilling. It’s thoroughly creepy and utterly enjoyable.” – Publishers Weekly

“I would read this story over again just to immerse myself in Easton’s voice… it’s clear that Kingfisher is making a name for himself in the literary world because of his unique, but relatable character creation. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, entertaining read in a Gothic setting.” – Defunkt Magazine

“…persistently unnerving… Kingfisher builds an atmosphere of dread quite literally from the ground up. You will be afraid of the earth. You will be afraid of the air. You will be afraid of the water. You will, in short, be kept reading by your fearful certainties that something is certainly amiss, and that possibly everything is very wrong… Horror fans, Kingfisher followers, and Poe aficionados will all find something to love in What Moves the Dead—and more importantly, will find something to make them shiver.” – Geekly Inc


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