Mercury Pictures Presents

Best New Books: Week of 8/2/22

“The library is like a candy store where everything is free.” – Jamie Ford, Songs of Willow Frost

All This Could Be Different by  Sarah Thankam Mathews ★


Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, gruelling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women–soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.

But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.

Description from Goodreads.

All This Could Be Different is easily a contender for Book of the Year.” – Observer

“If you’ve ever wanted to read a love letter to friendship, this is it… Through exquisite observations, Sarah Thankam Mathews reflects on the gift of having people you can count on, who anchor you through new chapters.” – NPR

All This Could Be Different captures the authentic adventure of an immigrant: how she manages to forge a bond with the US through love and community. Sarah Thankam Mathews’s tender and beautiful prose renders the story unforgettable.” – The Millions

“Perhaps it’s too soon to say which books we’ll look back on in 50 years as the ones that defined a generation, but [All This Could Be Different], a close-to-perfect coming-of-age romp, is surely a contender. Bitingly funny and sweetly earnest, it’s one of those rare novels that feels just like life… [Mathews] captures some unnamable, essential thing about being a 20-something struggling through work and love and late-stage capitalism… In the manner of books that stay with you forever, All This Could Be Different is a singular story that extends beyond itself… [A] funny, vibrant, heartbreaking book.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

Ben and Beatriz by  Katalina Gamarra

Fiction / Romance.

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them.

Description from Goodreads.

“This creative retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing explores contemporary issues like drug addiction, suicide, mental health, class divides, racism, and more, all while the love story progresses quickly. An opposites-attract romance grappling head-on with real-world issues while still offering indulgent escapism.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Gamarra uses [Ben and Beatriz’s] love story to explore race, colorism, sexuality, and privilege, crafting a romance between two people who are all too aware of their differences but still find a safe space in each other. Fans of the original sparring hearts love story will find this a worthy update on the classic.” – Publishers Weekly

The Book Eaters by  Sunyi Dean ★

Fiction / fantasy / Horror.

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

Description from Goodreads.

“A delightfully weird exploration of motherhood, queerness, and escaping patriarchal norms.” – BuzzFeed

“Dean’s unputdownable debut gives the phrase ‘voracious reader’ a new, very literal meaning… The fascinating magic system, impeccable and unusual worldbuilding, and well-shaded characters will keep readers riveted through every twist of this wild ride.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A fascinating debut with shades of gothic fantasy and contemporary thriller, wrapped in a narrative full of vivid and detailed characters and worldbuilding, and an unusual premise.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“A powerful story of overwhelming mother love, as something both powerful and potentially horrific. It’s a book that delves into the need to survive even when a system is built to break you or determined to crush you; a powerful queer story about difference that refuses to flinch away from difficult choices or the impact of trauma, both generational and inflicted. Readers will devour this compelling, rich fantasy.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Bookish People by  Susan Coll

fiction / Comedy / Romance.

Independent bookstore owner Sophie Bernstein is burned out on books. Mourning the death of her husband, the loss of her favorite manager, her only child’s lack of aspiration, and the grim state of the world, she fantasizes about going into hiding in the secret back room of her store.

Meanwhile, renowned poet Raymond Chaucer has published a new collection, and rumors that he’s to blame for his wife’s suicide have led to national cancellations of his publicity tour. He intends to set the record straight—with an ultra-fine-point Sharpie—but only one shop still plans to host him: Sophie’s.

Fearful of potential repercussions from angry customers, Sophie asks Clemi—bookstore events coordinator, aspiring novelist, and daughter of a famed literary agent—to cancel Raymond’s appearance. But Clemi suspects Raymond might be her biological father, and she can’t say no to the chance of finding out for sure.

This big-hearted screwball comedy features an intergenerational cast of oblivious authors and over-qualified booksellers—as well as a Russian tortoise named Kurt Vonnegut Jr.—and captures the endearing quirks of some of the best kinds of people: the ones who love good books.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of novels with plenty of literary and political references or of relationship fiction will enjoy.” – Library Journal

“The wacky world of books and the people who love them, as seen through a week in the life of a Washington, D.C., bookstore. As much fun as Coll has with vacuum cleaners – a truly surprising amount – it’s literary humor where she slays.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Codebreaker’s Secret by  Sara Ackerman

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery.

1943. As war in the Pacific rages on, Isabel Cooper and her codebreaker colleagues huddle in “the dungeon” at Station HYPO in Pearl Harbor, deciphering secrets plucked from the airwaves in a race to bring down the enemy. Isabel has only one wish: to avenge her brother’s death. But she soon finds life has other plans when she meets his best friend, a hotshot pilot with secrets of his own.

1965. Fledgling journalist Lu Freitas comes home to Hawai’i to cover the grand opening of the glamorous Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Rockefeller’s newest and grandest project. When a high-profile guest goes missing, Lu forms an unlikely alliance with an intimidating veteran photographer to unravel the mystery. The two make a shocking discovery that stirs up memories and uncovers an explosive secret from the war days. A secret that only a codebreaker can crack.

Description from Goodreads.

“Beautifully structured and well-told with authentic historical detail, interesting relationships, and the mystery of two young women who go missing from the same spot 22 years apart, this is another top historical novel by Ackerman.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Intense, suspenseful, and filled with mystery, flora, and fauna of Hawaii, the climate, the vernacular, and the total beauty of the location adds great setting. The in-depth knowledge of a codebreaker’s duties adds to the intrigue. What is most surprising is the unexpected and consoling ending that brings peace and understanding to 20 years of heartbreak and pain.” – New York Journal of Books

The Couple at Number 9 by  Claire Douglas

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

The Victims…

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering human remains. The remains of two bodies, in fact.

The Investigation…

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Saffy has nothing to worry about–until the police launch a murder inquiry and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner. Her grandmother, Rose.

The Witness…

Rose is in a nursing home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police, but it’s clear she remembers something.

The Killer…

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched.

The Truth…

What happened thirty years ago? Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?

Description from Goodreads.

“This gripping tale is sure to garner her new fans.” – Publishers Weekly

“…fiendishly clever… a tense and incredibly claustrophobic novel…” – Nut Press

“[Keeps] the reader on edge at all times… never fails to keep the reader hooked and interested.” – The Times of India

Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld by  T.J. English

Nonfiction / History / Music / True Crime.

Dangerous Rhythms tells the symbiotic story of jazz and the underworld: a relationship fostered in some of 20th century America’s most notorious vice districts. For the first half of the century mobsters and musicians enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership. By offering artists like Louis Armstrong, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald a stage, the mob, including major players Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, provided opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.

Even so, at the heart of this relationship was a festering racial inequity. The musicians were mostly African American, and the clubs and means of production were owned by white men. It was a glorified plantation system that, over time, would find itself out of tune with an emerging Civil Rights movement. Some artists, including Louis Armstrong, believed they were safer and more likely to be paid fairly if they worked in “protected” joints. Others believed that playing in venues outside mob rule would make it easier to have control over their careers.

Through English’s voluminous research and keen narrative skills, Dangerous Rhythms reveals this deeply fascinating slice of American history in all its sordid glory.

Description from Goodreads.

“…fascinating…” – Literary Hub

“Author T.J. English is arguably the most astute and versatile chronicler of 20th century American crime.” – Houston Press

The Devil Takes You Home by  Gabino Iglesias ★

Fiction / Horror / Mystery / Suspense / Fantasy.

Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.

The Devil Takes You Home is a panoramic odyssey for fans of S.A. Cosby’s southern noir, Blacktop Wasteland, by way of the boundary-defying storytelling of Stephen Graham Jones and Sylvia Moreno-Garcia.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] propulsive, gut punch of a thriller…” – The Millions

The Devil Takes You Home is very creepy—and very much about right now… very effective… the conviction that our world is irredeemable is powerfully rendered here. It’s present in an utterly harrowing set piece that takes place in a shotgun shack in San Antonio, in the pitch-perfect plot twist at the end of the book, and, most viscerally of all, in Mario’s rage against the racism that has disfigured his life—an anger that couldn’t feel more of the moment if it donned a ‘Brown Lives Matter’ T-shirt.” – Texas Monthly

“This is a master class in discomfort, a Barrio Noir, and a raw crime story that unapologetically incorporates the ghosts, language, and traditions of the people it honors. It is also a compelling revenge fantasy with a deadly twist, one that readers will be unable to forget. The violence is brutal and graphic, but the story is also lyrical and staggeringly beautiful. It is an entertaining and thought-provoking book about human truths and the monsters at their core.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“There is nobody who writes quite like Gabino Iglesias. His prose combines lush, gorgeous, poetry with brutal metaphors in ways no other author has quite mastered. Iglesias offers the reader flowers with one hand, luring them in with beautiful prose. In the other hand, Iglesias holds a club, ready to swing at the reader with a blunt and brutal statement that reminds them of the harsh world they truly inhabit… just the latest in a series of beautiful tragedies from Iglesias.” – Horror DNA

Dirt Creek by  Hayley Scrivenor

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

When twelve-year-old Esther disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels arrives in town during the hottest spring in decades and begins her investigation, Esther’s tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find Esther and bring her home.

When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Esther?

Punctuated by a Greek chorus, which gives voice to the remaining children of the small, dying town, this novel explores the ties that bind, what we try and leave behind us, and what we can never outrun, while never losing sight of the question of what happened to Esther, and what her loss does to a whole town.

Description from Goodreads.

“A novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances… politically savvy, cleverly plotted.” – New York Times

“Scrivenor’s stunning debut blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural… Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper won’t want to miss this page-turner.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The book brims over with head-spinning and mind-bending surprises. It will draw the inevitable comparisons to Jane Harper’s The Dry, but it proceeds boldly under its own unique power. A brilliantly crafted debut.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052-2072 by  M.E. O’Brien &  Eman Abdelhadi

Fiction / Science Fiction.

By the middle of the twenty-first century, war, famine, economic collapse, and climate catastrophe had toppled the world’s governments. In the 2050s, the insurrections reached the nerve center of global capitalism—New York City. This book, a collection of interviews with the people who made the revolution, was published to mark the twentieth anniversary of the New York Commune, a radically new social order forged in the ashes of capitalist collapse.

Here is the insurrection in the words of the people who made it, a cast as diverse as the city itself. Nurses, sex workers, antifascist militants, and survivors of all stripes recall the collapse of life as they knew it and the emergence of a collective alternative. Their stories, delivered in deeply human fashion, together outline how ordinary people’s efforts to survive in the face of crisis contain the seeds of a new world.

Description from Goodreads.

“A really fascinating glimpse into a future New York City after a revolution has transformed the US and much of the world into an antifascist, communist utopia… necessary and empowering, providing a hypothetical foundation for an ideal future.“ – BuzzFeed

Everything for Everyone hits the hardest not in its reflections on the revolution of days gone by, but in its focus on the operations of the new world… This is the core of the book’s project: to weave the sociological, the speculative, and the personal, and to do so with thrilling imagination and endlessly tender empathy. Everything for Everyone offers a much-needed future beyond destruction — a future where the work of kindness and cooperation is rewarded above all else.” – Ancillary Review of Books

Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality, 1920-2020 by  Elisabeth Griffith

Nonfiction / History.

The Nineteenth Amendment was an incomplete victory. Black and white women fought hard for voting rights and doubled the number of eligible voters, but the amendment did not enfranchise all women, or even protect the rights of those women who could vote. A century later, women are still grappling with how to use the vote and their political power to expand civil rights, confront racial violence, improve maternal health, advance educational and employment opportunities, and secure reproductive rights.

Formidable chronicles the efforts of white and Black women to advance sometimes competing causes. Black women wanted the rights enjoyed by whites. They wanted to protect their communities from racial violence and discrimination. Theirs was not only a women’s movement. White women wanted to be equal to white men. They sought equal legal rights, political power, safeguards for working women and immigrants, and an end to confining social structures. There were also many white women who opposed any advance for any women.

In this riveting narrative, Dr. Elisabeth Griffith integrates the fight by white and Black women to achieve equality. Previously their parallel struggles for social justice have been presented separately—as white or Black topics—or covered narrowly, through only certain individuals, decades, or incidents. Formidable provides a sweeping, century-long perspective, and an expansive cast of change agents. From feminists and civil rights activists to politicians and social justice advocates, from working class women to mothers and homemakers, from radicals and conservatives to those who were offended by feminism, threatened by social change, or convinced of white supremacy, the diversity of the women’s movement mirrors America.

After that landmark victory in 1920, suffragists had a sense of optimism, declaring, “Now we can begin!” By 2020, a new generation knew how hard the fight for incremental change was; they would have to begin again. Both engaging and outraging, Formidable will propel readers to continue their foremothers’ fights to achieve equality for all.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] encyclopedic overview of women’s advocacy for issues they believed crucial to their lives… A hefty, thoroughly researched contribution to women’s history.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In Formidable, Elisabeth Griffith relates how American women have approached political activism in the last century. The interplay between racism and sexism, Griffith argues, has also always been central to women’s fight for equality, even before the term ‘intersectionality’ was coined. The women’s movement is a flawed, complex entity that will continue to boost American women far into the future, argues Formidable, an overview of the diversity of American women and their role in political history.” – Foreword Reviews

“[An] engrossing, extremely detailed survey of the rights women have both gained and lost from 1920 to 2020. This well-researched tome opens with the suffrage movement and runs through the civil-rights era to modern movements such as #MeToo… This is a perfect text for feminists, activists, and readers of history and sociology.” – Booklist

Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural edited by  Lisa Morton &  Leslie S. Klinger

Fiction / Horror.

In Haunted Tales, the reader will enjoy discovering masterpieces like Algernon Blackwood’s terrifying “The Kit-Bag,” Oscar Wilde’s delightful “The Canterville Ghost,” and F. Marion Crawford’s horrific “The Screaming Skull,” as well as lesser-known gems by some of literature’s greatest voices, including Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House,” H. G. Wells’s “The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost,” and Rudyard Kipling’s “They.”

Haunted Tales also resurrects some wonders that have been woefully neglected, including Dinah Mulock’s “M. Anastasius” (which Charles Dickens called “the best ghost story ever written”); E. F. Benson’s “The Bus-Conductor” (the source of one of the most iconic lines in horror); and E. and H. Heron’s “The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith” (the debut adventure of Flaxman Lowe, fiction’s first psychic detective).

Whether the stories are familiar or overlooked, all are sure to surprise and astonish the reader long past the closing of this book’s cover.

Description from Goodreads.

“[T]here truly are great scenes of emotion and creepiness in these tales… It’s a macabre and Gothic set of stories, full of ghosts, creatures, and eerie coincidences. Read this with bright lights on, unless you want to double-check that the corners of your room are empty.” – Girl Who Reads

“An anthology from Leslie Klinger is always a treat, and for this one, he pairs up with Lisa Morton to select some of the strangest, creepiest, scariest 19th century ghost stories.” – CrimeReads

The Hookup Plan by  Farrah Rochon

Fiction / Romance.

Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.

Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.

Description from Goodreads.

“Masterful… a winning romance.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Rochon’s skillful handling of her lead couple’s sexual fast-burn and emotional slow-burn, coupled with her well-rounded characters, make it impossible not to fall in love with this smart story.” – Publishers Weekly

“[C]ombines [Rochon’s] signature humor and heart with the soap operatics of Grey’s Anatomy… We’re sad to see this incredible series end, but Rochon knows how to satisfy her readers.” – Entertainment Weekly

How to Kill Your Family by  Bella Mackie

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery / Comedy.

When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I’m long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel. After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge and coldly sets out to get her retribution—by killing them all, one by one. Compulsively readable, Bella Mackie’s debut novel is driven by a captivating first-person narrator who talks of “self-care” and social media while calmly walking the reader through her increasingly baroque acts of murder. But then, Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

Outrageously funny, compulsive, and subversive, How to Kill Your Family is a wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

Description from Goodreads.

“Hilarious and dark.” – Elle

“You’ll be gripped… Grace’s emotional detachment throughout will give you chills.” – Cosmopolitan

“Chilling, but also laugh out loud funny. [A] corker of a debut.” – Sunday Telegraph

Husband Material by  Alexis Hall ★

Fiction / Romance / Comedy.

One (very real) husband
Nowhere near perfect but desperately trying his best

In Boyfriend Material, Luc and Oliver met, pretended to fall in love, fell in love for real, dealt with heartbreak and disappointment and family and friends… and somehow figured out a way to make it work. Now it seems like everyone around them is getting married, and Luc’s feeling the social pressure to propose. But it’ll take more than four weddings, a funeral, and a bowl full of special curry to get these two from I don’t know what I’m doing to I do.

Good thing Oliver is such perfect Husband Material.

Description from Goodreads.

“[C]hances are you’re going to love this just as much as Boyfriend Material, if not more… a fantastic book…” – The Nerd Daily

“The banter between [Luc and Oliver] is strong as ever, and fans of book one will be glad to see them again…” – Publishers Weekly

Husband Material is, above all else, terrifically funny. Not just tonally upbeat in the way of many so-called rom-coms, but text-your-friends, chortle-’til-you-cry funny. One exchange made me laugh so hard and so long I ached for days — my laughter muscles have not had a lot of exercise in the past few years. The jokes shine all the brighter against some deeply painful moments in this story: This is humor as trauma response, romance edition.” – New York Times

“An ode to classic rom-com movies of the ’90s, such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Pretty Woman, Husband Material is rom-com redux, as only Hall can do!” – PopSugar

Kismet by  Amina Akhtar

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

Lifelong New Yorker Ronnie Khan never thought she’d leave Queens. She’s not an “aim high, dream big” person—until she meets socialite wellness guru Marley Dewhurst.

Marley isn’t just a visionary; she’s a revelation. Seduced by the fever dream of finding her best self, Ronnie makes for the desert mountains of Sedona, Arizona.

Healing yoga, transcendent hikes, epic juice cleanses… Ronnie consumes her new bougie existence like a fine wine. But is it, really? Or is this whole self-care business a little sour?

When the glam gurus around town start turning up gruesomely murdered, Ronnie has her answer: all is not well in wellness town. As Marley’s blind ambition veers into madness, Ronnie fears for her life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Twisty, sardonic.” – Oprah Daily

“Akhtar turns her sharp wit on the wellness community and its dark secrets in a thriller equal parts vicious and funny.” – USA Today

“Akhtar brings to her second novel… a gimlet-eyed view of Sedona, Ariz.’s wellness pretensions and a wicked way with one-liners… the surprises Akhtar has in store upend assumptions about trauma, healing, and the motivations of those who helicopter into lands they claim to hold sacred.” – Los Angeles Times

The Last White Man by  Mohsin Hamid ★


One morning, Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark, his reflection a stranger to him. At first he tells only Oona, an old friend, newly a lover. Soon, reports of similar occurrences surface across the land. Some see in the transformations the long-dreaded overturning of an established order, to be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance to see one another, face to face, anew.

Hamid’s The Last White Man invites us to envision a future – our future – that dares to reimagine who we think we are, and how we might yet be together.

Description from Goodreads.

“An emotionally gut-punching exploration of race, privilege, grief, and white anxiety.” – Mother Jones

“[Hamid] reminds us yet again that fiction sometimes provides the most direct path to truth.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] tale of poignant magical realism… Haunting and arresting in equal measure.” – Elle

“Searing, exhilarating… reimagines Kafka’s iconic The Metamorphosis for our racially charged era… Gorgeously crafted, morally authoritative, The Last White Man concludes on a note of hope, a door jarred open just enough to let transcendence pour through.” – Oprah Daily

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by  Jamie Ford ★

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Fantasy.

Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.

As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.

Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.

As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.

Description from Goodreads.

“[I]mmersive and enlightening.” – Booklist

“[T]he Moy women will leave readers wanting to know more… Ford’s tragically beautiful book will make readers cry and smile.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Exploring the bonds that transcend physical space, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is an enthralling, centuries-spanning tale, a mas­terful saga that’s perfect for fans of The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“This book is simultaneously one of the saddest and most optimistic novels I’ve ever read. It’s important to remember that these two things can coexist, that most of us live in bittersweet in-between places. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is a beautiful homage to this ache that connects us, the peace that can be found in knowing that we are never alone.” – Book of the Month

Mercury Pictures Presents by  Anthony Marra ★

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father’s arrest.

Fifteen years later, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won’t speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese-American actor, can’t escape the studio’s narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria’s only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.

Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father’s past threatens Maria’s carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father’s fate–and her own.

Written with intelligence, wit, and an exhilarating sense of possibility, Mercury Pictures Presents spans many moods and tones, from the heartbreaking to the ecstatic. It is a love letter to life’s bit players, a panorama of an era that casts a long shadow over our own, and a tour de force.

Description from Goodreads.

“Marra unspools this period comedy with so much old-time snappy wit that Mercury Pictures Presents should come with popcorn and a 78-ounce Coke.” – Washington Post

“Funny, verbally inventive and, ultimately, very moving, Mercury Pictures Presents is a wonderful novel.” – The Sunday Times

“…elegant… sublime… [has a] fleet, often funny, narrative omniscience, an effervescent mood that remains even in its bleakest moments and settings… The success of Mercury Pictures Presents, both the novel and the Hollywood entity it depicts, is evanescent and ambiguous, enduring and clear all at once.” – New York Times

The Rabbit Hutch by  Tess Gunty ★


The automobile industry has abandoned Vacca Vale, Indiana, leaving the residents behind, too. In a run-down apartment building on the edge of town, commonly known as the Rabbit Hutch, a number of people now reside quietly, looking for ways to live in a dying city. Apartment C2 is lonely and detached. C6 is aging and stuck. C8 harbors an extraordinary fear. But C4 is of particular interest.

Here live four teenagers who have recently aged out of the state foster-care system: three boys and one girl, Blandine, who The Rabbit Hutch centers around. Hauntingly beautiful and unnervingly bright, Blandine is plagued by the structures, people, and places that not only failed her but actively harmed her. Now all Blandine wants is an escape, a true bodily escape like the mystics describe in the books she reads.

Set across one week and culminating in a shocking act of violence, The Rabbit Hutch chronicles a town on the brink, desperate for rebirth. How far will its residents—especially Blandine—go to achieve it? Does one person’s gain always come at another’s expense? Tess Gunty’s The Rabbit Hutch is a gorgeous and provocative tale of loneliness and community, entrapment and freedom. It announces a major new voice in American fiction, one bristling with intelligence and vulnerability.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] breathtaking novel… Your allegiances will shift and shift again as the plot writhes toward a shocking, but inevitable, conclusion.” – Good Housekeeping

“Gunty writes with such compassion for her characters as they build their lives and assert their agency in a country that utterly disregards them, and in particular Blandine’s bright, fierce curiosity for the world kept me moving through the story; she’s a warrior, an intellectual force, a young woman who refuses to be disempowered. This is a skillfully told, beautiful, human story.” – Literary Hub

“As Gunty introduces each new voice, she makes storytelling seem like the most fun a person can have. She draws us along with rapturous glee while layering her symbolism so thick that the story should, by all rights, drown in it. But The Rabbit Hutch never loses focus thanks to Blandine, who has a kind of literary superpower: She’s aware of her place in the story, points out Gunty’s metaphors, arches a brow at the symbols and has something to say about all of it… Redemption is possible, and Gunty’s novel consecrates this noble search.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“An astonishing portrait… Gunty delves into the stories of Blandine’s neighbors, brilliantly and achingly charting the range of their experiences… It all ties together, achieving this first novelist’s maximalist ambitions and making powerful use of language along the way. Readers will be breathless.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Rise of the Black Quarterback: What it Means for America by  Jason Reid

Nonfiction / Sports / History / Current events.

In September 2019, ESPN’s The Undefeated website (now Andscape) began a season-long series of articles on the emergence of Black quarterbacks in the NFL. The first article in the series was Jason Reid’s enormously popular, “Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback.” The series culminated with an hour-long television program in February 2020, hosted by Reid himself. The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America will expand on Reid’s piece—as well as the entire series—and chronicle the shameful history of the treatment of Black players in the NFL and the breakout careers of a thrilling new generation of Black quarterbacks. Intimate portraits of Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray feature prominently in the book, as well as the careers and legacy of beloved NFL players such as Doug Williams and trailblazing pioneers Marlin Briscoe and Eldridge Dickey. Reid delves deeply into the culture war ignited by Kaepernick’s peaceful protest that shone a light on systemic oppression and police brutality. Fascinating and timely, this page-turning account will rivet fans of sports, cultural commentary, and Black history in America.

Description from Goodreads.

“Pivotal storytelling… Rise of the Black Quarterback combines a narrative of triumphs and tragedies, swagger and psychology, power and vulnerabilities, with the history and impact of the Black quarterback.” – ESPN

“[A] solid account of racial injustice in the NFL… What’s striking about this book is the litany of little things that people did to ensure that the thumb racial inequality was firmly pressed upon what the book calls ‘thinking man positions,’ inside linebacker and quarterback… absolutely riveting. Reid’s way with words and storytelling are worth the price of the book in and of itself.” – SB Nation

Shutter by  Ramona Emerson

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Horror.

Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases—she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook.

As a lone portal back to the living for traumatized spirits, Rita is terrorized by nagging ghosts who won’t let her sleep and who sabotage her personal life. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law.

And now it might be what gets her killed.

When Rita is sent to photograph the scene of a supposed suicide on a highway overpass, the furious, discombobulated ghost of the victim—who insists she was murdered—latches onto Rita, forcing her on a quest for revenge against her killers, and Rita finds herself in the crosshairs of one of Albuquerque’s most dangerous cartels. Written in sparkling, gruesome prose, Shutter is an explosive debut from one of crime fiction’s most powerful new voices.

Description from Goodreads.

“This paranormal police procedural is unusual and multilayered, but what stands out is the gorgeously expressive and propulsive first-person storytelling, which is split between Rita’s present and her past. A former forensic photographer herself, the pictures Emerson paints with words are as vivid as they are brutal.” – Oprah Daily

Shutter is impossible to classify, gorgeously written and ingeniously constructed.” – CrimeReads

“Crime fiction fans will relish this keenly balanced paranormal page-turner and piquant coming-of-age yarn.” – Publishers Weekly

Thank You for Listening by  Julia Whelan

Fiction / romance.

For Sewanee Chester, being an audiobook narrator is a long way from her old dreams, but the days of being a star on film sets are long behind her. She’s found success and satisfaction from the inside of a sound booth and it allows her to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. When she arrives in Las Vegas last-minute for a book convention, Sewanee unexpectedly spends a whirlwind night with a charming stranger.

On her return home, Sewanee discovers one of the world’s most beloved romance novelists wanted her to perform her last book—with Brock McNight, the industry’s hottest, most secretive voice. Sewanee doesn’t buy what romance novels are selling—not after her own dreams were tragically cut short—and she stopped narrating them years ago. But her admiration of the late author, and the opportunity to get her grandmother more help, makes her decision for her.

As Sewanee begins work on the book, resurrecting her old romance pseudonym, she and Brock forge a real connection, hidden behind the comfort of anonymity. Soon, she is dreaming again, but secrets are revealed, and the realities of life come crashing down around her once more.

If she can learn to risk everything for desires she has long buried, she will discover a world of intimacy and acceptance she never believed would be hers.

Description from Goodreads.

“A compulsively readable story about self-discovery with plenty of laughs and spice along the way.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] poignant and charming novel. Whelan’s skillfully nuanced writing truly shines.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This pull-at-the-heartstrings yet sexy debut novel by Whelan, an award-winning audiobook narrator, is all about the choices we make for ourselves and others. It will delight Anglophiles as well as Jojo Moyes fans.” – Library Journal

The Wild Hunt by  Emma Seckel ★

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Horror / Mystery.

The islanders have only three rules: don’t stick your nose where it’s not wanted, don’t mention the war, and never let your guard down during October.

Leigh Welles has not set foot on the island in years, but when she finds herself called home from a disappointing life on the Scottish mainland by her father’s unexpected death, she is determined to forget the sorrows of the past—her mother’s abandonment, her brother’s icy distance, the unspeakable tragedy of World War II—and start fresh. Fellow islander Iain MacTavish, a RAF veteran with his eyes on the sky and his head in the past is also in desperate need of a new beginning. A young widower, Iain struggles to return to the normal life he knew before the war.

But this October is anything but normal. This October, the sluagh are restless. The ominous, bird-like creatures of Celtic legend—whispered to carry the souls of the dead—have haunted the islanders for decades, but in the war’s wake, there are more wandering souls and more slaugh. When a local boy disappears, Leigh and Iain are thrown together to investigate the truth at the island’s dark heart and reveal hidden secrets of their own.

Rich with historical detail and a skillful speculative edge, Emma Seckel’s propulsive and pulse-pounding debut The Wild Hunt unwinds long-held tales of love, loss, and redemption.

Description from Goodreads.

“A moving historical novel haunted by folklore and reality alike, best enjoyed during the slow slide from summer into fall.” – Literary Hub

“Stirring and atmospheric… Seckel draws a dense portrait of a community in turmoil and Leigh’s determination to find a way forward. The result is a moving story exploring home, loss, and grief, and it is an irresistible read.” – Necessary Fiction

“Treading deftly into the worlds of folklore and magical realism, Seckel keenly captures a tone that echoes the eerie moor scenery of the island: hazy, haunting, and teeming with misgivings. A foreboding mystery with surprising glimmers of hope.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Seckel weaves historical fiction with mystery and fantastic elements and threads of romance in this tale of love, grief, attachment to place and resistance to change. Her island setting is both otherworldly and firmly rooted, and her prose style is lushly evocative. This imaginative novel is memorable and wild indeed.” – Shelf Awareness

You, Me, and Our Heartstrings by  Melissa See

Fiction / Young Adult / Romance.

Daisy and Noah have the same plan: use the holiday concert to land a Julliard audition. But when they’re chosen to play a duet for the concert, they worry that their differences will sink their chances.

Noah, a cello prodigy from a long line of musicians, wants to stick to tradition. Daisy, a fiercely independent disabled violinist, is used to fighting for what she wants and likes to take risks. But the two surprise each other when they play. They fall perfectly in tune.

After their performance goes viral, the rest of the country falls for them just as surely as they’re falling for each other. But viral fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. No one seems to care about their talent or their music at all. People have rewritten their love story into one where Daisy is an inspiration for overcoming her cerebral palsy and Noah is a saint for seeing past it.

Daisy is tired of her disability being the only thing people see about her, and all of the attention sends Noah’s anxiety disorder into high speed. They can see their dream coming closer than it’s ever been before. But is the cost suddenly too high?

Description from Goodreads.

“An enticing portrayal of two teens confronting obstacles while falling in love in the public eye.” – Publishers Weekly

“[H]as a powerful plot, that keeps the reader at the edge of their seat.” – Books Up North


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