Best New Books: Week of 7/26/22

“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” – Susan Wiggs

After Hours on Milagro Street by  Angelina M. Lopez

Fiction / Romance.

Guapo pobrecito her grandmother calls him. The “poor handsome man.”

Professor Jeremiah Post, the poor handsome man, is in fact standing in the way of Alejandra “Alex” Torres turning Loretta’s, her grandmother’s bar, into a viable business. The hot brainiac who sleeps in one of the upstairs tenant rooms already has all of her Mexican American family’s admiration; she won’t let him have the bar and building she needs to resurrect her career, too.

Alex blowing into town has rocked Jeremiah to his mild-mannered core, but the large, boisterous Torres clan is everything he never had. He doesn’t believe Alex has the best interest of her family, their community or the bar’s legacy in mind. To protect all three, he’ll stand up to the tough and tattooed bartender with whom he now shares a bedroom wall—and resist the insta-lust they both feel.

But when an old enemy threatens Loretta’s and the surrounding neighborhood, Alex and Jeremiah must combine forces. It will take her might and his mind to save the home they both desperately need.

Description from Goodreads.

“We tend to associate small town romances with the very twee and white worlds of Hallmark movies, but Angelina M. Lopez is ready to turn that on its head this summer and remind readers that small towns are as diverse as any other corner of America… Lopez combines her signature steamy approach with a romance steeped in questions of gentrification, family, and what home really means.” – Entertainment Weekly

“The story moves quickly, with engaging writing and a complex, layered plot that pulls readers into Jeremiah and Alex’s developing relationship… Lopez’s likeable protagonists, with immediate chemistry and connection, shine in this steamy novel (the first in a planned series).” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Sparks fly and tempers flare in the passionate, un-put-downable rivals-to-lovers romance that launches a sizzling new series… Lopez seamlessly blends high-heat romance with discussions of Alex’s heritage and the fascinating history of 19th-century Mexican immigrants to the Kansas plains. This is a treasure.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Booked on a Feeling by  Jayci Lee

Fiction / Romance.

Lizzy “Overachiever” Chung, Esq. has her life mapped out neatly:
* Become a lawyer. Check.
* Join a prestigious law firm. Check.
* Make partner. In progress.

If all goes to plan, she will check off that last box in a couple years, make her parents proud, and live a successful, fulfilled life in L.A. What was not in her plans was passing out from a panic attack during a pivotal moment in her career. A few deep breaths and a four hour drive later, Lizzy is in Weldon for three weeks to shed the burnout and figure out what went wrong. And what better place to recharge than the small California town where she spent her childhood summers with her best friend, Jack Park.

Jack Park didn’t expect to see Lizzy back in Weldon, but now he’s got three weeks to spend with the girl of his dreams. Except she doesn’t know of his decades-long crush on her–and he intends to keep it that way. She’s a high-powered attorney who lives in L.A. and he’s a bookkeeper at his family’s brewery who never left his hometown. He can’t risk their friendship on a long shot. Can he? When Lizzy decides that the local bookstore needs a little revamp, of course, Jack is going to help her bring it back to life. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to ignore there might be more than just friendship among the dusty shelves and books…

Sometimes the path to the rest of your life has been in front of you all along.

Description from Goodreads.

“Lee’s novel shines.” – Booklist

“Lee seamlessly spins a tale that offers her readers laugh-out-loud moments, with touching pages of raw honesty and heartfelt passion. A romance full of heart and second chances.” – Kirkus Reviews

Booked on a Feeling is an emotional, enthralling story with brilliant dialog, a slowly, pleasurable romance, and unique characters that will truly mesmerize the reader.” – Romance Junkies

The Book of Gothel by  Mary McMyne

Fiction / Fantasy / Historical Fiction.

Everyone knows the tale of Rapunzel in her tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there?

Haelewise has always lived under the shadow of her mother, Hedda—a woman who will do anything to keep her daughter protected. For with her strange black eyes and even stranger fainting spells, Haelewise is shunned by her medieval village, and her only solace lies in the stories her mother tells of child-stealing witches, of princes in wolf-skins, of an ancient tower cloaked in mist, where women will find shelter if they are brave enough to seek it.

Then, Hedda dies, and Haelewise is left unmoored. With nothing left for her in her village, she sets out to find the legendary tower her mother used to speak of—a place called Gothel, where Haelewise meets a wise woman willing to take her under her wing.

But Haelewise is not the only woman to seek refuge at Gothel. It’s also a haven for a girl named Rika, who carries with her a secret the Church strives to keep hidden. A secret that unlocks a dark world of ancient spells and murderous nobles behind the world Haelewise has always known…

Description from Goodreads.

“This gorgeous, feminist retelling of Rapunzel immediately captivates… Readers of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden will adore this new fairytale fantasy.” – BuzzFeed

“McMyne’s shimmering debut gives a fresh, exciting backstory to one of the most famous villains in fairy tale lore: the witch who put Rapunzel in her tower… The result is a sprawling epic, full of magic, love, and heartbreak. Fans of Circe and The Wolf and the Woodsman will devour this taut, empowering fairy tale.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Mary McMyne’s debut novel is dark and moody… This atmosphere, combined with the deep longings and confusion of a girl just entering womanhood and the fact that readers have a good idea of the fate that awaits her, shadows The Book of Gothel with an overwhelming sense of dread–but will also compel readers to keep going to the very end.” – BookPage

The Boys by  Katie Hafner


When introverted Ethan Fawcett marries Barb, he has every reason to believe he will be delivered from a lifetime of solitude. One day Barb brings home two young brothers, Tommy and Sam, for them to foster, and when the pandemic hits, Ethan becomes obsessed with providing a perfect life for the boys. Instead of bringing Barb and Ethan closer together, though, the boys become a wedge in their relationship, as Ethan is unable to share with Barb a secret that has been haunting him since childhood. Then Ethan takes Tommy and Sam on a biking trip in Italy, and it becomes clear just how unusual Ethan and his children are—and what it will take for Ethan to repair his marriage. This hauntingly beautiful debut novel—a bold and original high-wire feat—is filled with humor and surprise.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] impeccably written and surprise-fueled debut novel about empathy’s role in addressing childhood trauma.” – Christian Science Monitor

“Remarkable… Starting out as a lighthearted romance before taking an unsettling turn, [The Boys] upends expectations in the best way.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Clever, skillfully crafted… a laugh-out-loud delight to read… Also a poignant exploration of loneliness and the ways trauma survivors can go to extraordinary lengths to avoid facing their psychic wounds.” – San Francisco Chronicle

Calling for a Blanket Dance by  Oscar Hokeah


Told in a series of voices, Calling for a Blanket Dance takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the multigenerational perspectives of his family as they soldier through a myriad of difficulties: his father’s sudden kidney failure and subsequent disability, his mother’s struggle to hold on to her job and care for her husband, the constant resettlement of the family, and Ever’s own bottled-up rage at the instability all around him. Meanwhile, all of Ever’s relatives have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother urges the family to move across the state to find security; his dying grandfather hopes to reunite him with his heritage through traditional gourd dances; his Kiowa cousin reminds him that he’s connected to an ancestral past. And once an adult, Ever must take the strength given to him by his relatives to save not only himself, but also the next generation of family.

How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn’t given him a place to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle found his way to home.

Description from Goodreads.

“Quaking with age-old righteous anger but nevertheless luminescent with hope.” – Elle

“[A] captivating debut… With striking insight into human nature and beautiful prose, this heralds an exciting new voice.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Hokeah’s debut will feel familiar to fans of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange… A novel that builds in richness and intricacy… Another noteworthy debut in what feels like an ongoing renaissance of Indigenous peoples’ literature, both reflecting this lineage and introducing an exciting, fresh new voice to the choir.” – Library Journal

An Honest Living by  Dwyer Murphy ★

Fiction / Msytery / Suspense.

After leaving behind the comforts and the shackles of a prestigious law firm, a restless attorney makes ends meet in mid-2000s Brooklyn by picking up odd jobs from a colorful assortment of clients. When a mysterious woman named Anna Reddick turns up at his apartment with ten thousand dollars in cash and asks him to track down her missing husband Newton, an antiquarian bookseller who she believes has been pilfering rare true crime volumes from her collection, he trusts it will be a quick and easy case. But when the real Anna Reddick–a magnetic but unpredictable literary prodigy–lands on his doorstep with a few bones to pick, he finds himself out of his depth, drawn into a series of deceptions involving Joseph Conrad novels, unscrupulous booksellers, aspiring flâneurs, and seedy real estate developers.

Set against the backdrop of New York at the tail end of the analog era and immersed in the worlds of literature and bookselling, An Honest Living is a gripping story of artistic ambition, obsession, and the small crimes we commit against one another every day.

Description from Goodreads.

“Murphy’s engrossing debut is a book made for summer reading. It’s a smart, leisurely read, richly layered with movie references and philosophical reflections.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“If Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc smoked pot, or if Michael Connelly was from Paris, their books might read a little something like Dwyer Murphy’s absurdly entertaining and extremely literary debut.” – CrimeReads

An Honest Living is a smartly updated literary noir set in pre-financial crisis Manhattan; it’s suffused not only with risk-taking and critical thinking, but with Murphy’s generosity of spirit. The novel is playful and welcoming, coaching the reader to think the best of its cast of oddballs and misfits.” – Study Hall

“It is precisely style and atmosphere that give An Honest Living so much electricity and dimension. Like the best noir practitioners, Murphy uses the mystery as scaffolding to assemble a world of fallen dreams and doom bitten characters… Murphy’s hard-boiled rendering of the city is nothing short of exquisite… For anyone who wants a portrait of this New York, few recent books have conjured it so vividly. For those who demand a straightforward mystery without any humor, romance and ambience, well, forget it, Jake, it’s literature.” – New York Times

The Last to Vanish by  Megan Miranda

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.

Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.

Megan Miranda brings her best writing to The Last to Vanish, a riveting thriller filled with taut suspense and shocking twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Description from Goodreads.

“Megan Miranda—who grew up in East Windsor and Manalapan—may live in North Carolina now, but the chills from her new novel can be felt all the way back in her native New Jersey.” – New Jersey Monthly

“Clever… Cutter’s Pass is rife with secrets… all of which [Megan] Miranda brings skillfully to light. The Last to Vanish is a well-wrought example of how important timing can be for a thriller.” – Washington Post

“This eerie thriller, in which the setting itself may be actively malevolent, can stand next to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Stephen King’s The Shining… Expect shivers and lots of them.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Librarian Spy by  Madeline Martin

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.

Description from Goodreads.

“Resistance and activism… vividly reimagined.” – Washington Post

“The wartime ambience in both Lisbon and Paris and the thoroughly fascinating story of the IDC will please all lovers of WWII espionage.” – Booklist

“The description and events in this novel prove to be deftly researched. The different locations and the vernacular used highly add to the tale’s credibility, offering depth and insight into the happenings of this era. With suspense and tension throughout, this reads like a stealthy shadow lurking around a dark corner, producing hair-raising situations sure to raise one’s hackles while making the reader ponder why this horror was allowed.” – New York Journal of Books

Putin by  Philip Short

Nonfiction / Biography / history / politics / current events.

Vladimir Putin is the world’s most dangerous man. Alone among world leaders, he has the power to reduce the United States and Europe to ashes in a nuclear firestorm and has threatened to do so. He invades his neighbors, most recently Ukraine, meddles in western elections, and orders assassinations inside and outside Russia. His regime is autocratic and deeply corrupt. But that is only half the story.

Unflinching, hard-hitting, and objective, Philip Short’s biography gives us the whole tale, up to the present day. To the fullest extent anyone has yet been able, Short cracks open the strongman’s thick carapace to reveal the man underneath those bare-chested horseback rides. In this deeply researched account, readers meet the Putin who slept in the same room as his parents until he was twenty-five years old, who backed out of his wedding right beforehand, and who learned English in order to be able to talk to George W. Bush.

Vladimir Putin is wreaking havoc in Europe, threatening global peace and stability and exposing his fellow citizens to devastating economic countermeasures. Yet puzzlingly many Russians continue to support him. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the many facets of the man behind the mask that Putin wears on the world stage.

Drawing on almost two hundred interviews conducted over eight years in Russia, the United States, and Europe and on source material in more than a dozen languages, Putin will be the last word for years to come.

Description from Goodreads.

“Magisterial… Illuminating… Short’s Putin is a man of violent emotions ruthlessly repressed; habitually late (a power play over those kept waiting); devoid of small talk; so inscrutable that when he proposed to his wife she initially thought he was dumping her.” – The Guardian

“This is the first full biography of Putin and it is unlikely to be matched as a study of the man for some time. It is readable, judicious, critical but balanced, and focused on Putin the person, rather than on the Putin regime… When Putin finally goes, this messy, corrupt, incompetent, and violent regime will live on after him for a long time as a problem for Russia and the world. There’s no better guide as to why this will be Putin’s fault than this exceptional book.” – Irish Independent

“The author of authoritative books on Mao and Pol Pot returns with another impressive yet disturbing account of a dangerous world leader… insightful… Having read obsessively and interviewed almost everyone, Putin included, Short delivers a consistently compelling account of Putin’s life so far… Required reading for anyone interested in global affairs.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by  Foz Meadows

Fiction / Fantasy / Romance / Mystery.

“Stolen me? As soon to say a caged bird can be stolen by the sky.”

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.

Description from Goodreads.

“An emotionally gripping, delightful queer fantasy filled with political intrigue, family dynamics, and tender moments that will grab readers’ hearts and minds.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A delicate meditation on trauma, loyalty, and trust… Meadows skillfully integrates gripping mystery and satisfying slow-burn romance. The result is sure to delight.” – Publishers Weekly

“It’s ‘loathe at first sight’ between Vel and Cae, which is where the fun begins. Add in a vividly rendered fantasy world where queerness is embraced and celebrated, some political intrigue, and plenty of steamy scenes that’ll have readers sweating, and you’ve got a recipe for your next great beach read.” – BuzzFeed

Sugar and Salt by  Susan Wiggs

Fiction / Romance.

Jerome “Sugar” Barnes learned the art of baking in his grandma’s bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street.

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn’t exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She’s taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome Sugar’s bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome’s grandmother, the lively, opinionated Ida, and the older woman proves to be a good mentor. Margot thinks Jerome is gorgeous, and despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful–even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she’s found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past in Texas comes back to haunt her…

Description from Goodreads.

“Epic, heartbreaking, inspirational, and centering around important topics ripped from today’s headlines, Susan Wiggs proves yet again just how insightful she truly is with Sugar and Salt.” – Harlequin Junkie

The Witchery by  S. Isabelle

Fiction / Young Adult / Fantasy.

Haelsford, Florida is a Hellmouth. Or at least, that’s what Logan, a baby witch struggling to control her powers, thinks as she arrives to the witchtown to begin the new school year at Mesmortes Coven Academy. She is immediately taken under the wing of the infamous Red Three. Iris is a deathwitch who wants nothing more than to break the town’s curse; Jailah is one of the most powerful witches at the academy but her thirst for power may lead her down a dark path; and Thalia, the talented greenwitch, is on the run from her religious family and a past that still haunts her.

Fear and prejudice still fuel the uneasy truce between humans and witches who are forced to work together when the Haunting Season begins and Wolves rise from the swamp to feed. With this approaching, two Hammersmitt boys prepare to make their first sacrifices to the witches in exchange for protection. But as they become involved with the Mesmortes witches’ plan to end the Wolves’ reign of terror once and for all, old dangers lie in wait.

The cost to break the curse may be greater than any witch or human could ever know.

Description from Goodreads.

“Isabelle expertly balances six alternating perspectives, each brimming with witty dialogue, light humor, and distinct personality that add levity to even the most harrowing events. Strong friendships and an immersive setting and atmosphere that simmers with fear and menace round out this spellbinding story of magical mayhem, whose protagonists are determined to come into their powers, whatever it takes.” – Publishers Weekly

“Isabelle skillfully juggles six points of view, covering Thalia, Iris, Jailah, Logan, Mathew, and Trent, and the perspectives never feel like too much; each character has a complex history, differing relationships to magic, and conflicting goals, which both enhance the plot and keep the characters distinct. The story also offers multiple access points for a diverse audience, from a queernormative, Black-centric cast to the fantastical academy setting, while constant cliffhangers will keep readers anticipating the next return to their favorite characters.” – Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books


Leave a Reply