Anybody Home

Best New Books: Week of 8/16/22

“Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t. I’m not surprised some people prefer books.” – Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

All Good People Here by  Ashley Flowers with  Alex Kiester

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

Everyone from Wakarusa, Indiana, remembers the case of January Jacobs, who was found dead in a ditch hours after her family awoke to find her gone. Margot Davies was six at the time, the same age as January—and they were next-door neighbors. In the twenty years since, Margot has grown up, moved away, and become a big-city journalist, but she’s always been haunted by the fear that it could’ve been her. And the worst part is, January’s killer has never been brought to justice.

When Margot returns home to help care for her sick uncle, it feels like walking into a time capsule. Wakarusa is exactly how she remembered: genial, stifled, secretive. Then news breaks about five-year-old Natalie Clark from the next town over, who’s gone missing under eerily similar circumstances. With all the old feelings rushing back, Margot vows to find Natalie and solve January’s murder once and for all.

But the police, the family, the townspeople—they all seem to be hiding something. And the deeper Margot digs into Natalie’s disappearance, the more resistance she encounters, and the colder January’s case feels. Could the killer still be out there? Could it be the same person who kidnapped Natalie? And what will it cost to finally discover what truly happened that night?

Description from Goodreads.

“…intense…” – PopSugar

“This intricate, intriguing puzzler should surprise even those readers certain they know where the plot’s heading. Flowers is off to a promising start.” – Publishers Weekly

Anybody Home? by  Michael J. Seidlinger

Fiction / Horror.

What came first, the home or the desire to invade?

A seasoned invader with multiple home invasions under their belt recounts their dark victories while offering tutelage to a new generation of ambitious home invaders eager to make their mark on the annals of criminal history. From initial canvasing to home entry, the reader is complicit in every strangling and shattered window. The fear is inescapable.

Examining the sanctuary of the home and one of the horror genre’s most frightening tropes, Anybody Home? points the camera lens onto the quiet suburbs and its unsuspecting abodes, any of which are potential stages for an invader ambitious enough to make it the scene of the next big crime sensation. Who knows? Their performance just might make it to the silver screen.

Description from Goodreads.

“This book makes Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay look like a cakewalk. This is THE MOST intense psychological horror you have ever read. Seriously. It makes Out by Natsuo Kirino look tame.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Anybody Home? is an immersive novel that deconstructs home invasions for sport, resulting in addictive commentary on the horror genre itself.” – Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Anybody Home? is like nothing I’ve read before. Absolutely terrifying in its scope and clinically detached violence. I read this in a flurry. It’s my first read of Seidlinger’s work but it will not be my last.” – Only The Darkest Reads

The Blame Game by  Sandie Jones

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

Games can be dangerous. But blame can be deadly.

As a psychologist specializing in domestic abuse, Naomi has found it hard to avoid becoming overly invested in her clients’ lives. But after helping Jacob make the decision to leave his wife, Naomi worries that she’s taken things too far. Then Jacob goes missing, and her files on him vanish…

But as the police start asking questions about Jacob, Naomi’s own dark past emerges. And as the truth comes to light, it seems that it’s not just her clients who are in danger.

Description from Goodreads.

“Enjoyable… The twisty plot offers plenty of surprises.” – Publishers Weekly

“Just when the reader thinks they might have the plot figured out, Jones throws in yet another surprise, ratcheting up the tension until the explosive conclusion. A fine choice for fans of psychological thrillers.” – Booklist

Complicit by  Winnie M. Li

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

A Hollywood has-been, Sarah Lai’s dreams of success behind the camera have been put to the wayside. Now a lecturer at an obscure college, this former producer wants nothing more than to forget those youthful ambitions and push aside any feelings of regret… or guilt.

But when a journalist reaches out to her to discuss her own experience working with the celebrated film producer Hugo North, Sarah can no longer keep silent. This is her last chance to tell her side of the story and maybe even exact belated vengeance.

As Sarah recounts the industry’s dark and sordid secrets, however, she begins to realize that she has a few sins of her own to confess. Now she must confront her choices and ask herself, just who was complicit?

Description from Goodreads.

“…harrowing… Li doesn’t sugarcoat her subject, nor should she.” – New York Times

“[A] visceral and timely novel about the men – and women – who turn a blind eye to systemic exploitation… her examination of how women can participate in a system that treats them as fodder is bitterly convincing, and she doesn’t indulge in naive optimism about the prospect of significant change.” – The Guardian

“[An] intense look at the movie business by someone that worked in it and went through things she never should have. A novel you won’t want to put down.” – Red Carpet Crash

Elizabeth Finch by  Julian Barnes ★


This beautiful, spare novel of platonic unrequited love springs into being around the singular character of the stoic, exacting Professor Elizabeth Finch. Neil, the narrator, takes her class on Culture and Civilization, taught not for undergraduates but for adults of all ages; we are drawn into his intellectual crush on this private, withholding yet commanding woman. While other personal relationships and even his family drift from Neil’s grasp, Elizabeth’s application of her material to the matter of daily living remains important to him, even after her death, in a way that nothing else does. In Elizabeth Finch, we are treated to everything we cherish in Barnes: his eye for the unorthodox forms love can take between two people, a compelling swerve into nonfictional material (this time, through Neil’s obsessive study of Julian the Apostate, following on notes Elizabeth left for him to discover after her death), and the forcefully moving undercurrent of history, and biography in particular, as nourishment and guide in our current lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“A lyrical, thoughtful, and intriguing exploration of love, grief, and the collective myths of history. Barnes adds yet another remarkable title to his astoundingly remarkable body of work.” – Booklist

“A novel of ideas… with barely a sentence in it that doesn’t have some nutritional value… I’ll remember Elizabeth Finch when most other characters I’ve met this year have faded.” – The Times

“Julian Barnes’ characteristically cerebral new novel focuses on a chaste but ardent relationship between an adult student and his charismatic teacher, a bond that nourishes a perceptive rumination on the solitary rewards of scholarly work… Barnes’ characters, by turns eccentric, bereft and extremely bright, are relatable players in vivid stories about artistic ingenuity, ideological conflict and the commodification of history… thought-provoking… provocative and hopeful…” – Star Tribune

“The book’s central and most enthralling section… deals with a figure Elizabeth Finch esteemed as a kindred spirit: Julian the Apostate… A bravura exercise in nimbly handled erudition… [Elizabeth Finch] also celebrates the cast of mind Barnes most prizes. A connoisseur and master of irony himself, he fills this book with instances of its exhilarating power.” – Sunday Times

The Last Housewife by  Ashley Winstead

Fiction / Suspense / Mystery.

While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death—delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader—she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.

Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend’s life, she’s pulled into a dark, seductive world, where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay’s obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it—both inside the cult and outside of it—is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?

Description from Goodreads.

“Deliciously unputdownable.” – Washington Post

“I barely breathed through most of this horrifyingly engrossing story, so consider yourself warned.” – Good Housekeeping

“A story that needs to be told―about misogyny, sexual violence, and human trafficking, and how innocent trust can lead to abusive seduction… This explosive cautionary tale of a ‘podcast meets sex cult meets murder’ will captivate fans of twisted psychological suspense.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy by  Moiya McTier; illustrated by  Annamarie Salai

Nonfiction / Science / astronomy.

After a few billion years of bearing witness to life on Earth, of watching one hundred billion humans go about their day-to-day lives, of feeling unbelievably lonely, and of hearing its own story told by others, The Milky Way would like a chance to speak for itself. All one hundred billion stars and fifty undecillion tons of gas of it.

It all began some thirteen billion years ago, when clouds of gas scattered through the universe’s primordial plasma just could not keep their metaphorical hands off each other. They succumbed to their gravitational attraction, and the galaxy we know as the Milky Way was born. Since then, the galaxy has watched as dark energy pushed away its first friends, as humans mythologized its name and purpose, and as galactic archaeologists have worked to determine its true age (rude). The Milky Way has absorbed supermassive (an actual technical term) black holes, made enemies of a few galactic neighbors, and mourned the deaths of countless stars. Our home galaxy has even fallen in love.

After all this time, the Milky Way finally feels that it’s amassed enough experience for the juicy tell-all we’ve all been waiting for. Its fascinating autobiography recounts the history and future of the universe in accessible but scientific detail, presenting a summary of human astronomical knowledge thus far that is unquestionably out of this world.

Description from Goodreads.

“Astrophysicist McTier delivers in her debut a delightful report on the Milky Way’s inner workings… McTier writes that her goal is to help people ‘understand how ephemeral [our] existence is.’ She succeeds smashingly. The result is truly stellar.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“As a character, the Milky Way is a cross between a Greek goddess and GLaDOS, the artificially superintelligent computer system from the Portal video-game series. She gossips about other galaxies, teaches us about her past and imparts a primer on astrophysics, all the while relishing every opportunity to throw shade on humankind’s egocentrism and closed-mindedness.” – Scientific American

“McTier sprinkles humor throughout her whimsical look at the cosmos… [T]he author clearly knows her subject and delivers enough fascinating information to keep the pages turning.” – Kirkus Reviews

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis by  Beth Macy ★

Nonfiction / current events / health / true crime.

Nearly a decade into the second wave of America’s overdose crisis, pharmaceutical companies have yet to answer for the harms they created. As pending court battles against opioid makers, distributors, and retailers drag on, addiction rates have soared to record-breaking levels during the COVID pandemic, illustrating the critical need for leadership, urgency, and change. Meanwhile, there is scant consensus between law enforcement and medical leaders, nor an understanding of how to truly scale the programs that are out there, working at the ragged edge of capacity and actually saving lives.

Distilling this massive, unprecedented national health crisis down to its character-driven emotional core as only she can, Beth Macy takes us into the country’s hardest hit places to witness the devastating personal costs that one-third of America’s families are now being forced to shoulder. Here we meet the ordinary people fighting for the least of us with the fewest resources, from harm reductionists risking arrest to bring lifesaving care to the homeless and addicted to the activists and bereaved families pushing to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable. These heroes come from all walks of life; what they have in common is an up-close and personal understanding of addiction that refuses to stigmatize—and therefore abandon—people who use drugs, as big pharma execs and many politicians are all too ready to do.

Like the treatment innovators she profiles, Beth Macy meets the opioid crisis where it is—not where we think it should be or wish it was. Bearing witness with clear eyes, intrepid curiosity, and unfailing empathy, she brings us the crucial next installment in the story of the defining disaster of our era, one that touches every single one of us, whether directly or indirectly. A complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race, and class that is by turns harrowing and heartening, infuriating and inspiring, Raising Lazarus is a must-read for all Americans.

Description from Goodreads.

“Macy’s gripping follow-up to the mega-bestselling Dopesick… turns the lens to the fight for justice, from the prosecution of the Sackler family to the reformers pioneering innovative treatments for the afflicted. Enlightening and exhaustive, it’s at once a damning exposé about greed and a moving paean to the power of community activism.” – Esquire

“In many ways, the new book represents Macy, one of the pre-eminent chroniclers of the nation’s opioid epidemic, at her full-bore fearless best. Heartsick and determined, she grills drug policy scholars and former drug czars alike.” – New York Times

Raising Lazarus, Beth Macy’s follow-up to Dopesick, will radically change your opinions on the opioid crisis… Once again, Macy’s up close and personal reporting is riveting as she weaves together multiple storylines… The genius of Macy’s writing is that she makes readers care, on every page, as she bears witness. This is heartfelt, informed writing at its best, and always personal. With Dopesick and now Raising Lazarus, Macy is a social historian and change-maker at the top of her game.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“[Macy] offers hope, however muted, that the opioid epidemic is indeed a solvable problem… Macy eschews the false objectivity of ‘both sides’ journalism and directly identifies the villains of this story: the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, and the incompetent policymakers and greedy executives who compounded what the Sacklers started.” – Boston Globe

Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls by  Kathleen Hale

Nonfiction / true crime / Psychology.

The Slenderman stabbing of May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, shocked the local community and the world. The violence of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, two twelve-year-old girls who attempted to stab their classmate to death, was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they had done so under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called “Slenderman.” Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved were suffering from undiagnosed mental illness, was often overlooked in coverage of the case.

Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls tells that full story for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, individual reporting, and exclusive interviews. Morgan and Anissa were bound together by their shared love of geeky television shows and animals, and their discovery of the user-uploaded scary stories on the Creepypasta website could have been nothing more than a brief phase. But Morgan was suffering from early-onset childhood schizophrenia. She believed that she had been seeing Slenderman for many years, and the only way to stop him from killing her family was to bring him a sacrifice: Morgan’s best friend Payton “Bella” Leutner, whom Morgan and Anissa planned to stab to death on the night of Morgan’s twelfth birthday. Bella survived the attack, but was deeply traumatized, while Morgan and Anissa were immediately remanded into jail, and the severity of their crime meant that they would be prosecuted as adults. There, as Morgan continued to suffer from worsening mental illness after being denied antipsychotics, her life became more and more surreal.

Slenderman is both a page-turning true crime story and a search for justice.

Description from Goodreads.

“Searing… As the first researcher into the case to draw extensively from transcripts of vital records, Hale has produced what stands as the most accurate account to date of this horrifying episode. This is a must for true crime fans.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The Slenderman case can seem impenetrably bizarre, but Hale nimbly documents the numerous contributing factors to the online legends, the crime and its judicial outcome… Moreover, Hale is originally from Wisconsin, providing her well-developed true-crime narrative with an insider’s take on social and cultural norms that fostered the communication breakdown among authority figures who might have tuned into the suspicious circumstances before a crime could be committed… [Hale’s] steady narrative vision brings clarity to a thoroughly upsetting situation.” – Shelf Awareness

“Hale breathlessly recounts this unspeakable tragedy but holds her focus on the courtroom and society’s failures in treating the mentally ill. Her message is resonant: We must do better for those in need… Beyond the horrific incident at its center, the book expands into a searing criticism of how society treats (and mistreats) the mentally ill. A relevant true-crime cautionary tale as well as an urgent plea for mental health awareness.” – Kirkus Reviews

Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by  Roselle Lim

Fiction / Romance.

Newly minted professional matchmaker Sophie Go has returned to Toronto, her hometown, after spending three years in Shanghai. Her job is made quite difficult, however, when she is revealed as a fraud—she never actually graduated from matchmaking school. In a competitive market like Toronto, no one wants to take a chance on an inexperienced and unaccredited matchmaker, and soon Sophie becomes an outcast.

In dire search of clients, Sophie stumbles upon a secret club within her condo complex: the Old Ducks, seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors who never found love. Somehow, she convinces them to hire her, but her matchmaking skills are put to the test as she learns the depths of loneliness, heartbreak, and love by attempting to make the hardest matches of her life.

Description from Goodreads.

“This heartfelt and touching read tackles the loneliness we face when we’re dedicated to helping others feel less lonely.” –

“This engaging book takes a close look at love, friendship, sorrow, loss, and responsibilities to family—both the family members you are born with and the family members that you find. Personality quirks are embraced in this delightful story about seeking—and finding—love even if you need help along the way.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Tinted with magical realism in the style of Mary Simses, Andrea De Carlo, and Samantha Verant, Sophie’s story is a funny, frank, and heartfelt journey of inner strength and new connections. Lim portrays Sophie and her parents with layers and nuance, setting cultural expectations against Sophie’s modern sensibilities. Filled with luscious food, a catchy Beatles soundtrack, and the sight and sounds of Toronto, Lim’s latest is a treat.” – Booklist

This Is How We Love by  Lisa Moore


As the snowstorm of the century rages toward Newfoundland, twenty-one-year-old Xavier is beaten and stabbed in a vicious attack. His mother, Jules, must fight her way through the shuttered streets of St. John’s to reach the hospital where Xavier lies unconscious. When a video of the attack surfaces, Jules struggles to make sense of what she sees in the footage — and of what she can’t quite make out.

While Xavier’s story unfolds, so, too, do the stories that brought him there. Here, across families and generations, are stories of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers; of children cared for, neglected, lost, and re-found; of selfless generosity and reluctant debt. Above all, Moore, in the inimitable largesse of her art, paints a shimmering portrait of the sacrifice, pain, and wild joy of loving. A tour de force of storytelling and craft, This is How We Love brings us a cast of characters so rich and true they could only have been written by Lisa Moore.

Description from Goodreads.

“A masterful book that goes boldly into our most tightly held anxieties, fears, and longings about who and how we love, This is How We Love is an unmissable read.” – Open Book

“You will want to read This is How We Love in one sitting. Why? Because it won’t leave you alone. The characters live with you and in you and will remain long after you have read the last page.” – The Miramichi Reader

“The sentences astonish in thrashing staccato form, unearthing one insight and backstory after the next, memories recounted from different perspectives, the snowstorm all the while never letting up… Such is the power of Moore’s writing.” – Winnipeg Free Press

Witches by  Brenda Lozano; translated by  Heather Cleary

Fiction / fantasy / mystery / Horror.

Paloma is dead. But before she was murdered, before she was even Paloma, she was a traditional healer named Gaspar. Before she was murdered, she taught her cousin Feliciana the secrets of the ceremonies known as veladas, and about the Language and the Book that unlock their secrets.

Sent to report on Paloma’s murder, Zoe meets Feliciana in the mountain village of San Felipe. There, the two women’s lives twist around each other in a danse macabre. Feliciana tells Zoe the story of her struggle to become an accepted healer in her community, and Zoe begins to understand the hidden history of her own experience as a woman, finding her way in a hostile environment shaped by and for men.

Weaving together two parallel narratives that mirror and refract one another, this extraordinary novel envisions the healer as storyteller and the writer as healer, and offers a generous and nuanced understanding of a world that can be at turns violent and exultant, cruel and full of hope.

Description from Goodreads.

“Beautifully rendered, this is a book to meditate over and perhaps reread.” – Library Journal

“Lozano does a wonderful job distinguishing the disparate characters and their fluid identities, and Cleary’s translation strikes the perfect balance of immersion and clarity. Powerful and complex, this marks a new turn from an intriguing writer.” – Publishers Weekly

“Readers of Fernanda Melchor’s form-busting, psychedelic takes on recent South American history won’t want to miss Brenda Lozano’s Witches… Heather Cleary fluidly translates Lozano’s spiky narrative, immersing readers in its horrors without obscuring its beauties.” – Chicago Review of Books


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