Everything Is OK

Best New Books: Week of 9/27/22

“We’re all strange inside. We learn how to disguise our differences as we grow up.” – Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

Best of Friends by  Kamila Shamsie ★


Best of FriendsZahra and Maryam have been best friends since childhood in Karachi, even though–or maybe because–they are unlike in nearly every way. Yet they never speak of the differences in their backgrounds or their values, not even after the fateful night when a moment of adolescent impulse upends their plans for the future.

Three decades later, Zahra and Maryam have grown into powerful women who have each cut a distinctive path through London. But when two troubling figures from their past resurface, they must finally confront their bedrock differences–and find out whether their friendship can survive.

Thought-provoking, compassionate, and full of unexpected turns, Best of Friends offers a riveting take on an age-old question: Does principle or loyalty make for the better friend?

“Unputdownable.” – Real Simple

“Sophisticated and poignant… [brings] exquisite nuance [to its] depiction of long-lasting friendship.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Shamsie is superb at interweaving personal dilemmas and political realities… Her continually surprising story, in which repercussions have further repercussions, vibrates with contemporary concerns, from social media privacy to immigration. The novel also wisely observes the enigmatic nature of longtime friendships… and shows how female power transforms over time. The protagonists will stay in readers’ minds long after this piercingly honest novel concludes.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Gentle but insistent… If you’re worried that a novel about the longevity of childhood friendship sounds sentimental, don’t be. Tangled up with Maryam and Zahra’s relationship are questions of responsibility, justice, power and ethics… It’s the deep-rooted and complicated bond between the two women that keeps us turning the pages… Alive and kicking beneath the surface. Simmering gently.” – The Spectator

Bridge to the Sun: The Secret Role of the Japanese Americans Who Fought in the Pacific in World War II by  Bruce Henderson &  Gerald Yamada

NONFiction / History.

Bridge to the SunAfter Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military was desperate to find Americans who spoke Japanese to serve in the Pacific war. They soon turned to the Nisei–first generation U.S. citizens whose parents were immigrants from Japan. Eager to prove their loyalty to America, several thousand Nisei–many of them volunteering from the internment camps where they were being held behind barbed wire–were selected by the Army for top-secret training, then were rushed to the Pacific theater. Highly valued as expert translators and interrogators, these Japanese American soldiers operated in elite intelligence teams alongside Army infantrymen and Marines on the frontlines of the Pacific war, from Iwo Jima to Burma, from the Solomons to Okinawa.

Bruce Henderson reveals, in riveting detail, the harrowing untold story of the Nisei and their major contributions in the war of the Pacific, through six Japanese-American soldiers. The role of the U.S. Nisei soldiers was so far-reaching, General MacArthur said that because of their efforts, “never in military history did an army know so much about the enemy prior to engagement.” After the war, these soldiers became translators and interrogators for war crime trials, and later helped to rebuild Japan as a modern democracy and a pivotal U.S. ally.

“Exceptional… Henderson enriches his sweeping overview of the Pacific campaign with intimate profiles… A stirring tribute to the courage and sacrifice of young men who exemplified ‘the true definition of patriotism.’” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] clearly written tale of patriotism and resilience… Henderson sketches the life stories of Japanese Americans who waged a war against racial prejudice at home and fascism abroad by serving as interpreters, translators, and soldiers… Readers will appreciate the vignettes on courage, culture, and the intricacies of the Japanese language.” – Library Journal

“Henderson, a journalist who has written more than 20 books, many of them dealing with World War II, brings a great deal of investigative acumen to his latest… This book is an important step in providing much-needed recognition for these brave Americans. A fascinating piece of history with threads of courage and poignancy, brought to life by an accomplished storyteller.” – Kirkus Reviews

By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners by  Margaret A. Burnham

Nonfiction / History / Law.

By Hands Now KnownIf the law cannot protect a person from a lynching, then isn’t lynching the law?

In By Hands Now Known, Margaret A. Burnham, director of Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, challenges our understanding of the Jim Crow era by exploring the relationship between formal law and background legal norms in a series of harrowing cases from 1920 to 1960. From rendition, the legal process by which states make claims to other states for the return of their citizens, to battles over state and federal jurisdiction and the outsize role of local sheriffs in enforcing racial hierarchy, Burnham maps the criminal legal system in the mid-twentieth-century South, and traces the unremitting line from slavery to the legal structures of this period and through to today.

Drawing on an extensive database, collected over more than a decade and exceeding 1,000 cases of racial violence, she reveals the true legal system of Jim Crow, and captures the memories of those whose stories have not yet been heard.

“Searing… An essential reckoning with America’s history of racial violence.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Uncovers the hidden and unknown victims of Jim Crow violence… Readers interested in the long history of the civil rights struggle should definitely read this.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] searing indictment of the all-encompassing violence of Jim Crow and a persuasive case for long-overdue reparations… An indispensable addition to the literature of social justice and civil rights.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Everything Is OK by  Debbie Tung

Nonfiction / Graphic novel / memoir / mental health.

Everything Is OKEverything Is OK is the story of Debbie Tung’s struggle with anxiety and her experience with depression. She shares what it’s like navigating life, overthinking every possible worst-case scenario, and constantly feeling like all hope is lost.

The book explores her journey to understanding the importance of mental health in her day-to-day life and how she learns to embrace the highs and lows when things feel out of control. Debbie opens up about deeply personal issues and the winding road to recovery, discovers the value of self-love, and rebuilds a more mindful relationship with her mental health.

In this graphic memoir, Debbie aims to provide positive and comforting messages to anyone who is facing similar difficulties or is just trying to get through a tough time in life. She hopes to encourage readers to be kinder to themselves, to know that they are not alone, and that it’s okay to be vulnerable because they are not defined by their mental health struggles. The dark clouds won’t be there forever. Everything will turn out all right.

“…drawn in clean, simple lines and written with equal directness… Tung’s cute, friendly-looking self-portrait serves as a reassuring guide for readers who may feel lost in the darkness of depression… Readers dealing with their own inner monsters will appreciate the gentle reassurance that ‘you are not alone, even if it feels like you are.'” – Publishers Weekly

Everything Is Okay is a very loving letter about herself to herself and how she shares that with us… Tung creates interesting illustrations that capture the feeling, tone and message of the story perfectly.” – Cannonball Read

Fen, Bog & Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis by  Annie Proulx

Nonfiction / Science / nature / History.

Fen, Bog & SwampA lifelong environmentalist, Annie Proulx brings her wide-ranging research and scholarship to the subject of wetlands and the vitally important yet little understood role they play in preserving the environment—by storing the carbon emissions that greatly contribute to climate change. Fens, bogs, swamps, and marine estuaries are the earth’s most desirable and dependable resources, and in four stunning parts, Proulx documents the long-misunderstood role of these wetlands in saving the planet.

Taking us on a fascinating journey through history, Proulx shows us the fens of 16th-century England to Canada’s Hudson Bay lowlands, Russia’s Great Vasyugan Mire, America’s Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the 19th-century explorers who began the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Along the way, she writes of the diseases spawned in the wetlands—the Ague, malaria, Marsh Fever—and the surprisingly significant role of peat in industrialization.

A sobering look at the degradation of wetlands over centuries and the serious ecological consequences, this is a stunningly important work and a rousing call to action by a writer whose passionate devotion to understanding and preserving the environment is on full and glorious display.

“Proulx eloquently underscores the dangers for the planet, as wetlands sequester carbon emissions. The book is a stark but beautifully written Silent Spring-style warning from one of our greatest novelists.” – Christian Science Monitor

“An enchanting history of our wetlands… Imbued with the same reverence for nature as Proulx’s fiction, Fen, Bog, & Swamp is both an enchanting work of nature writing and a rousing call to action.” – Esquire

“Remaking the world inevitably impoverishes it and us, as Proulx writes in a crescendo… She provides a particularly good compact history of the draining of the fens of eastern England in an act pitting capitalists against working people… An eloquent, engaged argument for the preservation of a small and damp yet essential part of the planet.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Furrows by  Namwali Serpell ★


The FurrowsI don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.

Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother, Wayne, is seven. One day, when they’re alone together, there is an accident and Wayne is lost forever. His body is never recovered. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt. Their father leaves, starts another family elsewhere. But their mother can’t give up hope and launches an organization dedicated to missing children.

As C grows older, she sees her brother everywhere: in bistros, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother’s face, the light in his eyes, the way he seems to recognize her, too. But it can’t be, of course. Or can it? Then one day, in another accident, C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world. His name is Wayne.

Namwali Serpell’s remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful–and sometimes willful–longing for reunion with those we’ve lost.

“A novel that reclaims and refashions the genre of the elegy, charging it with as much eros as pathos.” – The New Yorker

“Surreal and magical… confirms Serpell’s place as one of the most innovative and intelligent writers today.” – Financial Times

“A gorgeous, surreal meditation on identity and mourning, one that squeezes the heartstrings and rarely relaxes its grip.” – Vulture

“This knottily brilliant puzzle box of a novel from Namwali Serpell is an aching, stylistically innovative portrait of grief, memory, and familial fracture that is already earning its author comparisons to Toni Morrison… Destined to end up on every Best of the Year list.” – Literary Hub

The Golden Enclaves by  Naomi Novik

Fiction / Fantasy.

The Golden EnclavesAlmost singlehandedly–although backed by an increasingly large cadre of genuine friends–El has changed the nature of the Scholomance forever. But now that she is back in the real world, how will the lessons she learned inside the school apply? Will her grandmother’s prophecy come true? Will she really spell the doom of all the enclaves forever?

As the quest to save her one true love ramps up, however, El is about to learn the most significant lesson of all–the dire truth on which the enclaves and the whole stability of the magical world are founded. And being El, she is not likely to let it lie…

“Novik dazzles in her brilliant and compulsively readable final Scholomance fantasy… This exquisitely well-crafted work engages deeply with genre classics like The Lord of the Rings and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas while offering up its own detailed and original world full of clever parallels and a fascinating magical catch-22. Novik beautifully closes out El’s and Orion’s character arcs, paying off on groundwork laid in previous installments, and her focus on hope, resilience, and collective action makes this finale as moving as it is satisfying. This is a knockout.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Novik continues to expand the foundational magical system and world in surprising ways, providing fast, exciting action and heart-wrenching emotional arcs for El… a strong and satisfying finish to an exciting fantasy series.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts by  Leanna Renee Hieber &  Andrea Janes

Nonfiction / Paranormal / History / True crime.

A Haunted History of Invisible WomenSorrowful widows, vengeful jezebels, innocent maidens, wronged lovers, former slaves, even the occasional axe-murderess–America’s female ghosts differ widely in background, class, and circumstance. Yet one thing unites them: their ability to instill fascination and fear, long after their deaths. Here are the full stories behind some of the best-known among them, as well as the lesser-known–though no less powerful.

Tales whispered in darkness often divulge more about the teller than the subject. America’s most famous female ghosts, like New Orleans voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, and Bridget Bishop, the first person executed during the Salem witchcraft trials, mirror each era’s fears and prejudices. Yet through urban legends and campfire stories, even ghosts like the nameless hard-working women lost in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire –achieve a measure of power and agency in death, in ways unavailable to them as living women.

Riveting for skeptics and believers alike, with humor, curiosity, and expertise, A Haunted History of Invisible Women offers a unique lens on the significant role these ghostly legends play both within the spook-seeking corners of our minds and in the consciousness of a nation.

“From Lizzie Borden to the Salem Witch Trial victims, brothel runners to lonesome hotel haunts, the Winchester widow to the Women in White, Hieber and Janes tackle them all with an eye toward uncovering what makes them so compelling, and what it means to turn them into something beyond themselves… intoxicating… It’s a guided tour of a somewhat different sort; one in which Hieber and Janes take us across states and centuries to remind us of how these voices long since snuffed out of our world have managed to make themselves heard across the annals of time to be remembered in the form of some of our most persistent and complex creative tropes.” – Medium

I Fear My Pain Interests You by  Stephanie LaCava ★

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

I Fear My Pain Interests YouMargot is the child of renowned musicians and the product of a particularly punky upbringing. Burnt-out from the burden of expectation and the bad end of the worst relationship yet, she leaves New York and heads to the Pacific Northwest. She’s seeking to escape both the eyes of the world and the echoing voice of that last bad man. But a chance encounter with a dubious doctor in a graveyard, and the discovery of a dozen old film reels, opens the door to a study of both the peculiarities of her body and the absurdities of her famous family.

At once an analysis of the abandoned 1968 Cannes Film Festival and a literary take on cinema du corp, Stephanie LaCava’s new novel is an audaciously sexy and moving exploration of culture and connections, bodies and breakdowns.

“The cool girl book of the year.” – 032c

“Nonlinear in format and stark in its use of language, this brief but impactful novel is going to stay with me for a while… [a] singularly unforgettable read.” – BuzzFeed

“Whether it’s [Margot’s] pain or her detachment that fascinates us, I Fear My Pain Interests You examines issues of power, how it is or is not inherited, what the consequences of being defined by others are, and the ways pain shapes us.“ – BOMB

“Understated and elegant, LaCava’s writing inspires both dread and longing; her characters, nearly all of them direct to the point of cruelty, also seem unable to say anything that would lead to real emotional connection. The horrors of this book build so subtly that their apex seems both unfathomable and inevitable, like a deep fear that finally comes to pass.“ – Literary Hub

Kingdom of the Feared by  Kerri Maniscalco

Fiction / Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance.

Kingdom of the FearedEmilia is reeling from the shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive. But before she faces the demons of her past, Emilia yearns to claim her king, the seductive Prince of Wrath, in the flesh. Emilia doesn’t simply desire his body, she wants his heart and soul—but that’s something the enigmatic demon can’t promise her.

When a high-ranking member of House Greed is assassinated, Emilia and Wrath are drawn to the rival demon court. Damning evidence points to Vittoria as the murderer and she’s quickly declared an enemy of the Seven Circles. Despite her betrayal, Emilia will do anything to solve this new mystery and find out who her sister really is.

Together Emilia and Wrath play a sin-fueled game of deception as they work to stop the unrest that’s brewing between witches, demons, shape-shifters and the most treacherous foes of all: the Feared.

Emilia was warned that when it came to the Wicked nothing was as it seemed. But, have the true villains been much closer all along? When the truth is finally revealed, it just might end up costing Emilia her heart.

“…steamy… deliciously wicked…” – The Nerd Daily

“…thrilling… more explosive twists and thrilling surprises than ever…” – Paste

Leech by  Hiron Ennes

Fiction / Horror / Science Fiction.

LeechIn an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The doctor’s replacement has a mystery to solve: discovering how the Institute lost track of one of its many bodies.

For hundreds of years the Interprovincial Medical Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine. The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species from the apocalyptic horrors their ancestors unleashed.

In the frozen north, the Institute’s body will discover a competitor for its rung at the top of the evolutionary ladder. A parasite is spreading through the baron’s castle, already a dark pit of secrets, lies, violence, and fear. The two will make war on the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.

“Emotionally complex, wildly inventive, and full of squirming terror… This is a must-read for readers looking for something new from the horror genre.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] fascinating jigsaw puzzle… [that] only gets more intriguing as the novel goes on… Fans of gothic horror will devour it.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The fascinating world and original narrator that Ennes creates in their debut produce a sublime gothic sci-fi tale that grows into a story greater than the sum of its parts.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories by  Kelly Ripa

Nonfiction / Memoir / television.

Live WireIn Live Wire, her first book, Kelly shows what really makes her tick. As a professional, as a wife, as a daughter and as a mother, she brings a hard-earned wisdom and an eye for the absurdity of life to every minute of every day. It is her relatability in all of these roles that has earned her fans worldwide and millions of followers on social media. Whether recounting how she and Mark really met, the level of chauvinism she experienced on set, how Jersey Pride follows her wherever she goes, and many, many moments of utter mortification (whence she proves that you cannot, in fact, die of embarrassment) Kelly always tells it like it is. Ms. Ripa takes no prisoners.

Surprising, at times savage, a little shameless and always with humor… Live Wire shows Kelly as she really is offscreen–a very wise woman who has something to say.

“Ripa has an energetic writing style, zinging between topics with snarky asides, and readers will be drawn to her humor and the insights into her life.” – Booklist

“Actor and talk show host Ripa offers a no-holds-barred glimpse of her personal and professional life in her self-deprecating debut. Ripa’s humor shines as she dives into topics such as marriage, family, chauvinism, therapy, cosmetic surgery, and her kids leaving for college… unapologetic, uninhibited, and undeniably hilarious. This banter-filled collection will delight daytime television devotees.” – Publishers Weekly

The Logos by  Mark de Silva


The LogosUnemployed, lonesome, abandoned by his lover, an obscure artist on the verge of despair begins to question the worth of his craft-until, without warning, he lands the opportunity of a lifetime. Courted by a wealthy patron with enigmatic motives, he yields his talents to corporate interests. In theory, his brief is to sell his soul-to mastermind a publicity campaign for a line of products designed to enhance human perception. In practice, though, he exerts sway over the souls of others. Given freedom to treat the campaign as an artistic endeavor in its own right, he comes to use the public sphere as a forum for shaping aesthetic sensibilities on a scale that others could only dream of. But how far can he extend his ambitions before they break him?

“A dazzling epistemological meditation on modernity, perception, representation and performance.” – October Books

“[A] provocative epic of ideas… Throughout, there’s tremendous pleasure in the narrator’s insights about ‘the inner geometry of imagination,’ and in the elaborate set pieces about the intricacies of football and theater. The result is an original, formidable portrayal of American commerce, where everything—including one’s vision—can be bought and sold.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[Offers] hefty insight on the limits of human perception and the limitlessness of human vanity the likes of which we haven’t enjoyed since William Gaddis was around to make us think.” – 
The Millions

Motherthing by  Ainslie Hogarth

Fiction / Horror / Comedy.

MotherthingWhen Ralph and Abby Lamb move in with Ralph’s mother, Laura, Abby hopes it’s just what she and her mother-in-law need to finally connect. After a traumatic childhood, Abby is desperate for a mother figure, especially now that she and Ralph are trying to become parents themselves. Abby just has so much love to give—to Ralph, to Laura, and to Mrs. Bondy, her favorite resident at the long-term care home where she works. But Laura isn’t interested in bonding with her daughter-in-law. She’s venomous and cruel, especially to Abby, and life with her is hellish.

When Laura takes her own life, her ghost haunts Abby and Ralph in very different ways: Ralph is plunged into depression, and Abby is terrorized by a force intent on destroying everything she loves. To make matters worse, Mrs. Bondy’s daughter is threatening to move Mrs. Bondy from the home, leaving Abby totally alone. With everything on the line, Abby comes up with a chilling plan that will allow her to keep Mrs. Bondy, rescue Ralph from his tortured mind, and break Laura’s hold on the family for good. All it requires is a little ingenuity, a lot of determination, and a unique recipe for chicken à la king…

“Fierce and unexpected, this darkly comedic horror is an exploration of how we haunt ourselves and how we allow others to haunt us, especially those closest to us. A crass narrator and an unraveling plot, coupled with subtext on sensitive and relatable topics, bring a dose of reality to what is otherwise a delightfully unhinged romp through domestic hell.” – Rue Morgue

“A masterfully crafted horror novel that’s by turns humorous and deeply unsettling… Abby makes a wonderful narrator; full of wry insights and frothy humor… This dark domestic drama packs a punch.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Hogarth’s way with words enlivens every page of this psycho romp… Her fearlessness and utter lack of inhibition animate the desperate longing and bitter trauma at the heart of this ghost story, administered with a steady drip of comic relief. Profane, insane, hilarious, disgusting—and unexpectedly moving.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Mr. Wilder and Me by  Jonathan Coe

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Mr. Wilder and MeIn the heady summer of 1977, a naïve young woman called Calista sets out from Athens to venture into the wider world. On a Greek island that has been turned into a film set, she finds herself working for the famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder, about whom she knows almost nothing. But the time she spends in this glamorous, unfamiliar new life will change her for good.

While Calista is thrilled with her new adventure, Wilder himself is living with the realisation that his star may be on the wane. Rebuffed by Hollywood, he has financed his new film with German money, and when Calista follows him to Munich for the shooting of further scenes, she finds herself joining him on a journey of memory into the dark heart of his family history.

In a novel that is at once a tender coming-of-age story and an intimate portrait of one of cinema’s most intriguing figures, Jonathan Coe turns his gaze on the nature of time and fame, of family and the treacherous lure of nostalgia. When the world is catapulting towards change, do you hold on for dear life or decide it’s time to let go?

“Beautifully written and full of wisdom, this unusual and fascinating book contains many treats… If you love novels set in the world of moviemaking, this is as good as the best of them.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Outstanding… In a sense, Mr. Wilder and Me is the novel toward which Coe’s fiction has always been heading.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

“A beautifully elegiac novel… One of the best movie-set novels, it sticks closely to the facts but turns them into an elegant, melancholy reflection on Wilder’s escape from Germany, his return to Berlin, and the troubled production of his late-career film maudit.” – Bookforum

Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me by  Erin Keane

Nonfiction / Memoir / Biography.

RunawayIn 1970, Erin Keane’s mother ran away from home for the first time. She was thirteen years old. Over the next several years, and under two assumed identities, she hitchhiked her way across America, experiencing freedom, hardship, and tragedy. At fifteen, she met a man in New York City and married him. He was thirty-six.

Through a deft balance of journalistic digging, cultural criticism, and poetic reimagining, Keane pieces together the true story of her mother’s teenage years, questioning almost everything she’s been told about her parents and their relationship. Along the way, she also considers how pop culture has kept similar narratives alive in her. At stake are some of the most profound questions we can ask ourselves: What’s true? What gets remembered? Who gets to tell the stories that make us who we are?

Whether it’s talking about painful family history, #MeToo, Star Wars, true crime forensics, or The Gilmore Girls, Runaway is an unforgettable look at all the different ways the stories we tell—both personal and pop cultural—create us.

“Keane’s prose soars, and her journalistic instincts shine.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A beautifully written memoir that introduces a fresh, compelling voice.” – Garden & Gun

“[This] memoir expands beyond the personal to cast that same piercing gaze on cultural myths, from the obsession with nymphets to the demonization of runaways. What results is a deeply felt family memoir that also functions as an exegesis of our social texts.” – Los Angeles Times

Shrines of Gaiety by  Kate Atkinson ★

Fiction / Historical fiction / Mystery.

Shrines of Gaiety1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven, whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson gives us a window in a vanished world. Slyly funny, brilliantly observant, and ingeniously plotted, Shrines of Gaiety showcases the myriad talents that have made Atkinson one of the most lauded writers of our time.

“[Atkinson] takes on London in the 1920s, masterfully capturing both its shimmer and its seediness… It’s a deliciously fun, absorbing read.” – Time

“There’s a certain joy in opening a Kate Atkinson novel—a feeling that every element matters and that each surprise will ultimately make perfect sense… Atkinson’s characters and their choices, curiosities and corruptions keep the story unfolding, making the resolution worth every second.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] glittering foray into London’s post-WWI Soho… Atkinson’s incisive prose and byzantine narrative elegantly excavate the deceit, depravity, and destruction of Nellie’s world. She also turns this rich historical into a sophisticated cat-and-mouse tale as the various actors try to move in on Nellie’s turf. Atkinson is writing at the top of her game.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Like all of Atkinson’s novels, her latest defies easy categorization. It’s historical fiction, but there’s a sense of knowingness that feels contemporary… The adjective Dickensian feels too clichéd to be meaningful, but Atkinson does excel at creating a big, bustling universe fully inhabited by vivid characters… Already one of the best writers working, Atkinson just gets better and better.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by  Laura Warrell

Fiction / Romance.

Sweet, Soft, Plenty RhythmIt’s 2013, and Circus Palmer, a forty-year-old Boston-based trumpet player and old-school ladies man, lives for his music, and refuses to be tied down. Before a gig in Miami, he learns that the woman who is secretly closest to his heart, the free-spirited drummer Maggie, is pregnant by him. He flees instead of facing the necessary conversation, setting off a chain of interlocking revelations from the various women in his life. Most notable among them is his teenage daughter Koko, who idolizes him; she’s awakening to her own sexuality even as her mentally fragile mother struggles to overcome her long-failed marriage and rejection by Circus.

Delivering a lush orchestration of diverse female voices, Warrell spins a provocative, soulful and gripping story of passion and risk, fathers and daughters, wives and single women, and finally hope and reconciliation, in answer to the age-old question: how do we find belonging when love is unrequited?

“Warrell tells this powerful, polyphonic tale mainly through the voices of those people Circus loves and leaves… All of these narrators appear and reappear as recurring motifs in the fugue-like tapestry of Circus’ life, each playing a variation on the theme of this deeply flawed but charismatic man’s hold on them, but also displaying their determination to establish individual lives… [A] remarkably assured, unforgettable debut.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“‘Jazz music is to be played sweet, soft, plenty rhythm,’ proclaimed Jelly Roll Morton, and Warrell plays her exceptional first novel with plenty of rhythm and tenderness, delivered in brisk, mordantly gorgeous language that has its own natural flow. Each woman has her own life, her own story… and as in any good jazz piece these stories play off one another seamlessly. A highly recommended story of love and life that makes beautiful music.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“An impressive debut novel weaves storylines of lost love, coming-of-age, and midlife crisis… Warrell displays delicately wrought characterization and a formidable command of physical and emotional detail. Her more intimate set pieces deliver sensual, erotic vibrations… she knows how to write about the way it feels to deliver jazz—and receive it. A captivating modern romance evoking love, loss, recovery, and redemption.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Suspect by  Scott Turow

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

suspectFor as long as Lucia Gomez has been the police chief in the city of Highland Isle, near Kindle County, she has known that any woman in law enforcement must walk a precarious line between authority and camaraderie to gain respect. She has maintained a spotless reputation—until now. Three male police officers have accused her of soliciting sex in exchange for promotions to higher ranks. With few people left who she can trust, Chief Gomez turns to an old friend, Rik Dudek, to act as her attorney in the federal grand jury investigation, insisting to Rik that the accusations against her are part of an ugly smear campaign designed to destroy her career and empower her enemies—both outside the police force and within.

Clarice “Pinky” Granum spent most of her youth experimenting with an impressive array of drugs and failing out of various professions, including the police academy. Pinky knows that in the eyes of most people, she’s nothing but a screwup—but she doesn’t trust most people’s opinions anyway. Moreover, she finally has a respectable-enough job as a licensed P.I. working for Rik on his roster of mostly minor cases, like workman’s comp, DUIs and bar fights. Rik’s shabby office and even shabbier cases are a far cry from the kinds of high-profile criminal matters Pinky became familiar with in the law office of her grandfather, Sandy Stern. But Rik and Pinky feel that Chief Gomez’s case, which has attracted national attention, is their chance to break into the legal big leagues.

Guided by her gut instinct and razor-sharp investigative skills, Pinky dives headfirst into a twisted scandal that will draw her into the deepest recesses of the city’s criminal networks, as well as the human mind. But she will need every scrap of tenacity and courage to unravel the dark secrets those closest to her are determined to keep hidden.

“Since the ’80s, readers have considered bestselling author Scott Turow a king in the legal thriller genre, and in Suspect, he does not disappoint.” – The Big Thrill

“Pinky’s unconventional, socially awkward narration offers a fresh take on sticky legal issues, and Turow’s carefully paced, tight plotting complements her dedication to the long game.” – Booklist

“Readers will be drawn into Suspect’s narrative and have their expectations challenged at each successive development in the case. With each new revelation about the players involved, readers will be left wanting to know more about them long after the book’s… ending.” – Mystery Scene

The Winners by  Fredrik Backman


The WinnersTwo years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?


“[A] dramatic and highly satisfying novel, building on themes introduced in the first two books and brilliantly drawing the reader deeply into the story… If this really is the last Beartown novel, it’s a hell of a conclusion to an outstanding series.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…satisfying… The tension… remains palpable after a former hockey player returns to Beartown and everyone assumes he’s out to settle a score, and a series of threats escalate into explosive violence and a painful resolution. This will do the trick for insatiable Beartown fans…” – Publishers Weekly

“Backman is a magician with words… one of Fredrik Backman’s best works…” – Beware of the Reader


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