Best New Books: Week of 1/3/2023

“Dogs have important jobs, like barking when the doorbell rings, but cats have no function in a house whatsoever.” – W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose


Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Age of ViceNew Delhi, 3 a.m. A speeding Mercedes jumps the curb and in the blink of an eye, five people are dead. It’s a rich man’s car, but when the dust settles there is no rich man at all, just a shell-shocked servant who cannot explain the strange series of events that led to this crime. Nor can he foresee the dark drama that is about to unfold.

Deftly shifting through time and perspective in contemporary India, Age of Vice is an epic, action-packed story propelled by the seductive wealth, startling corruption, and bloodthirsty violence of the Wadia family — loved by some, loathed by others, feared by all.

In the shadow of lavish estates, extravagant parties, predatory business deals and calculated political influence, three lives become dangerously intertwined: Ajay is the watchful servant, born into poverty, who rises through the family’s ranks. Sunny is the playboy heir who dreams of outshining his father, whatever the cost. And Neda is the curious journalist caught between morality and desire. Against a sweeping plot fueled by loss, pleasure, greed, yearning, violence and revenge, will these characters’ connections become a path to escape, or a trigger of further destruction?

Equal parts crime thriller and family saga, transporting readers from the dusty villages of Uttar Pradesh to the urban energy of New Delhi, Age of Vice is an intoxicating novel of gangsters and lovers, false friendships, forbidden romance, and the consequences of corruption. It is binge-worthy entertainment at its literary best.

“A complex, gasp-inducing drama that accelerates to an explosive ending. Block out some time: You won’t be able to put this one down.” – Good Housekeeping

“Riveting… Kapoor paints a mesmerizing picture of violence and decadence, of struggle and hope, of corruption and redemption… impossible to put down.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“Kapoor spins a dizzying ride. Weaving the backstories of Ajay, Neha, and Sunny together, Kapoor’s frenetic and colorful novel highlights the new global pecking order… But as this gripping tale shows, even the weakest deserve one last gasp of dignity.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Deeply addictive; this spellbinder would be easy to devour in one big gulp, but it’s worth savoring for Neda’s uncompromising take on what she terms India’s ‘losing age, the age of vice.’ The author possesses a talent great enough to match the massive scope of her subject.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW


The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

fiction / mystery / suspense.

The Bandit QueensGeeta’s no-good husband disappeared five years ago. She didn’t kill him, but everyone thinks she did–no matter how much she protests. But she soon discovers that being known as a “self-made” widow has some surprising perks. No one messes with her, no one threatens her, and no one tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for her business; no one wants to risk getting on her bad side by not buying her jewelry.

Freedom must look good on Geeta, because other women in the village have started asking for her help to get rid of their own no-good husbands… but not all of them are asking nicely.

Now that Geeta’s fearsome reputation has become a double-edged sword, she must decide how far to go to protect it, along with the life she’s built. Because even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry.

“Shroff’s debut is a darkly hilarious take on gossip, caste, truth, village life, and the patriarchy. A perfect match for fans of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer and clever, subversive storytelling.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“In Shroff’s acerbic debut, a woman helps other women escape their abusive marriages in their small village in India, often through murder… Readers are in for a razor-stuffed treat.” – Publishers Weekly

“This book is so much fun! In Parini Shroff’s dark comedy, the put-upon women of a small Indian village decide to get rid of their husbands—permanently. Things quickly spiral out of control as the bodies start piling up, the police get curious, and Geeta enters into a second-chance romance with a quiet widower who runs a speakeasy. And there’s a dog! What’s not to love?” – CrimeReads

The Bandit Queens is a delightfully entertaining and thought-provoking debut novel about female friendship, agency, and unlikely killers… Smart, funny dialogue had me laughing out loud, but Shroff’s story also says much about how women help and hurt each other, and the experience of being female in a society that values earning power but not the earner herself. Witty, enlightening, and surprising, this is an exceptional story of second chances with a mystery twist.” – Amazon


The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

fiction / suspense / mystery / horror.

The BlackhouseA remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.

Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.

For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.

Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.

Unnerving, enthralling, and filled with gothic suspense, The Blackhouse is a spectacularly sinister tale readers won’t soon forget.

“[An] eerie gothic thriller… this ghost story ultimately packs a gale-force wallop. Johnstone is a writer to watch.” – Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Tana French will embrace author Johnstone’s skill at weaving supernatural and setting-as-character aspects into her story, and readers of Lisa Jewell will enjoy her unexpected plotting and character development. The caliber of Johnstone’s writing and masterful storytelling will delight both. This richly evocative story exists at the point where love, fear, guilt, bad decisions, psychosis, and mythology collide.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Carole Johnstone blurs the lines between the supernatural and reality in The Blackhouse… intriguing [and] unsettling… embraces several layers of mysticism and superstition which combine to keep the reader guessing about what is real and what is imagined – or something else.” – The Courier


Blaze Me a Sun by Christoffer Carlsson; translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

fiction / mystery / suspense.

Blaze Me a SunIn February 1986, the Halland police receive a call from a man who claims to have attacked his first victim. I’m going to do it again, he says before the line cuts off. By the time policeman Sven Jörgensson reaches the crime scene, the woman is taking her last breath. For Sven, this will prove a decisive moment. On the same night, Sweden plunges into a state of shock after the murder of the prime minister. Could there possibly be a connection?

As Sven becomes obsessed with the case, two more fall victim. For years Sven remains haunted by the murders he cannot solve, fearing that the killer might strike again. Eventually Sven retires from the police in defeat. Having failed to catch the killer, he passes his obsession to his son, who has joined the force to be closer to his father.

Decades later, the case unexpectedly resurfaces when a novelist returns home to Halland after a failed marriage and sputtering career. The writer befriends a retired police officer, a former colleague of Sven’s, who helps the novelist–our narrator–unspool the many strands of this engrossing tale about a community confronting its shames.

Blaze Me a Sun is an elegantly constructed novel about the long shadows of violence and the elusive hunt for truth. A #1 bestseller in Sweden, it marks the American debut of the youngest winner of the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year award, the top prize for Swedish crime writers whose past winners include Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell.

“The best Swedish crime novel of the year.” – Der Spiegel

“The first great crime novel of 2023 is Blaze Me a Sun by the decorated Swedish crime writer Chrisoffer Carlsson, who twines together national and personal trauma to devastating effect… Capably translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, [Blaze Me a Sun] contains deep pleasures and thrilling surprises. What I most loved is how Carlsson plumbs what can and cannot be known about human lives and criminal investigations. He understands how familial love can blind people to difficult truths, and how ‘closure’ often never happens.” – New York Times

“A brainy page-turner from a rising star in Scandinavian crime fiction.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW


Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy – and the Sister She Betrayed by Jim Popkin

nonficton / history / biography / true crime.

Code Name Blue WrenJust days after the 9-11 attacks, a senior Pentagon analyst eased her red Toyota Echo into traffic and headed to work. She never saw the undercover cars tracking her every turn. As she settled into her cubicle on the 6th floor of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, FBI Agents and twitchy DIA officers were hiding in nearby offices. For this was the day that Ana Montes–the US Intelligence Community superstar who had just won a prestigious fellowship at the CIA–was to be arrested and publicly exposed as a secret agent for Cuba.

Like spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen before her, Ana Montes blindsided her colleagues with brazen acts of treason. For nearly 17 years, Montes succeeded in two high-stress jobs. By day, she was one of the government’s top Cuba experts, a buttoned-down GS-14 with shockingly easy access to classified documents. By night, she was on the clock for Fidel Castro, listening to coded messages over shortwave radio, passing US secrets to handlers in local restaurants, and slipping into Havana wearing a wig.

Montes didn’t just deceive her country. Her betrayal was intensely personal. Her mercurial father was a former US Army Colonel. Her brother and sister-in-law were FBI Special Agents. And her only sister, Lucy, also worked her entire career for the Bureau. The highlight of her distinguished 31 years as a Miami-based language specialist: Helping the FBI flush Cuban spies out of the United States. Little did Lucy or her family know that the greatest Cuban spy of all was sitting right next to them at Thanksgivings, baptisms, and weddings.

In Code Name Blue Wren, investigative journalist Jim Popkin weaves the tale of two sisters who chose two very different paths, plus the unsung heroes who had to fight to bring Ana to justice. With exclusive access to a “Secret” CIA behavioral profile of Ana, family memoirs, and Ana’s incriminating letters from prison, Popkin reveals the making of a traitor—a woman labelled “one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history” by America’s top counter-intelligence official.

After more than two decades in federal prison, Montes will be freed in January 2023. Code Name Blue Wren is a thrilling detective tale, an insider’s look at the clandestine world of espionage, and an intimate exploration of the dark side of betrayal.

“…engrossing… a must-read for espionage fans.”- Publishers Weekly

“[A] fascinating account… An entertaining story of cunning espionage.”- Kirkus Reviews


The Discovery of Pasta: A History in Ten Dishes by Luca Cesari; translated by Johanna Bishop

nonfiction / history / food.

The Discovery of PastaIn this hugely charming and entertaining chronicle of everyone’s favorite dish, acclaimed Italian food writer and historian Luca Cesari draws on literature, history, and many classic recipes in order to enlighten pasta lovers everywhere, both the gourmet and the gluten free.

What is Italy without pasta? Come to think of it, where would the rest of us be without this staple of global cuisine? The wheat-based dough first appeared in the Mediterranean in ancient times. Yet despite these remote beginnings, pasta wasn’t wedded to sauce until the nineteenth century. Once a special treat, it has been served everywhere from peasant homes to rustic taverns to royal tables, and its surprising past holds a mirror up to the changing fortunes of its makers. Full of mouthwatering recipes and outlandish anecdotes—from (literal) off-the-wall 1880s cooking techniques to spaghetti conveyer belts in 1940 and the international amatriciana scandal in 2021—Luca Cesari embarks on a tantalizing and edifying journey through time to detangle the heritage of this culinary classic.

“Luca Cesari chases the origins of various dishes back in time like a fanatical spaghetti detective… If you’re really interested in pasta, you should buy this book.” – Daily Telegraph

“Bologna-based food historian Cesari delivers a thoroughly researched narrative crafted around the evolution of ten beloved staple dishes from the Boot, disabusing the world of the myths of famous pasta origin stories. An excellent read for those willing to set food-purist notions aside in order to see the bigger picture and enjoy what is nearly always the nuanced evolution of a recipe.” – Booklist

“Pasta was not always served al dente… I discovered this fact, and about a thousand others, in Cesari’s new book, which, attentive as it is to origin stories, and thus to basics, could not make for more suitable reading right now if it tried.” – The Observer

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Drinking Games: A Memoir by Sarah Levy

nonfiction / memoir / health.

Drinking GamesDrinking Games explores the role alcohol has in our formative adult lives, and what it means to opt out of a culture completely enmeshed in drinking. Sarah explores what our short-term choices about alcohol do to our long-term selves and how it challenges our ability to be vulnerable enough to discover what we really want in life. While many millennial women will see themselves in Sarah’s words and story, Drinking Games is dedicated to anyone who feels like their private struggles are terminally unique. Whether it’s alcohol, food, exercise, or work, so many of us are grasping for control and struggling to keep our heads above water.

Candid, dynamic, Drinking Games speaks to the millennial experience of working hard, playing harder, and wanting everything to look perfect on social media. Dedicated to those who might be questioning their relationship with alcohol but scared that quitting drinking is an ending, Drinking Games illustrates how, for one woman, sobriety was just the beginning of the story. Sarah’s words strike the perfect chord of relatability and biting honesty. Instead of claiming to have the answers, she takes readers by the hand throughout her journey, and shows us that life’s messiest moments are the ones that can end up being the most profound.

“Bracing and insightful… offers equal measures of introspection and hope. This emotional excavation will inspire anyone navigating addiction.” – Publishers Weekly

“Stands out in the genre of sobriety memoirs… people who find solace in these narratives or seek a reflection of their experiences will appreciate the bravery, humor, and grace with which the author writes about one of the darkest parts of her life. There’s a particular effectiveness to her exploration of the ways drinking culture permeates the spaces in lives and interactions.” – Library Journal

“With raw honesty… Levy’s path to sobriety becomes a lens through which she reflects on drinking culture and what it means to be sober within that… in her vulnerability and willingness to share the highs and lows of her relationship with alcohol, Levy invites readers to consider what might not be serving them in this moment–and what might be possible on the other side of whatever habit is holding them back from true freedom.” – Shelf Awareness


Have You Eaten Yet?: Stories from Chinese Restaurants Around the World by Cheuk Kwan

nonfiction / food / travel / history.

Have You Eaten YetFrom Cape Town, South Africa, to small-town Saskatchewan, family-run Chinese restaurants are global icons of immigration, community and delicious food. The cultural outposts of far-flung settlers, bringers of dim sum, Peking duck and creative culinary hybrids, Chinese restaurants are a microcosm of greater social forces. They are an insight into time, history, and place.

Author and film-maker Cheuk Kwan, a self-described “card-carrying member of the Chinese diaspora,” weaves a global narrative by linking the myriad personal stories of chefs, entrepreneurs, laborers and dreamers who populate Chinese kitchens worldwide. Behind these kitchen doors lies an intriguing paradox which characterizes many of these communities: how Chinese immigrants have resisted—or have often been prevented from—complete assimilation into the social fabric of their new homes. In both instances, the engine of their economic survival—the Chinese restaurant and its food—has become seamlessly woven into towns and cities all around the world.

An intrepid travelogue of grand vistas, adventure and serendipity, Have You Eaten Yet? charts a living atlas of global migration, ultimately revealing how an excellent meal always tells an even better story.

“A heartfelt and entertaining culinary and historical survey of the Chinese diaspora.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Flavorful descriptions of foods mix with adventuresome travel mishaps. The stories of women in particular are resounding, encompassing both vulnerability and stalwart resolve. Have You Eaten Yet? is a fascinating, inquisitive global search for Chinese tastes that evoke home in any corner of the world.” – Foreword Reviews

“Cheuk Kwan traces a diaspora through Chinese restaurants owned and operated by immigrant families… From the Arctic to Africa to the Amazon, perseverance, economic pragmatism and resourcefulness bind the lives of Chinese immigrant restaurateurs all over the world and inspire their disparate menus… Kwan’s book is a kind of love letter to his varied homes and a memorial to his journey through them, as refracted through the lives of far-flung strangers.” – New York Times

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In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

fiction / historical fiction.

In the Time of Our HistoryTwelve months after her younger sister Anahita’s death, Mitra Jahani reluctantly returns to her parents’ home in suburban New Jersey to observe the Iranian custom of “The One Year.” Ana is always in Mitra’s heart, though they chose very different paths. While Ana, sweet and dutiful, bowed to their domineering father’s demands and married, Mitra rebelled, and was banished.

Caught in the middle is their mother, Shireen, torn between her fierce love for her surviving daughter and her loyalty to her husband. Yet his callousness even amid shattering loss has compelled her to rethink her own decades of submission. And when Mitra is suddenly forced to confront hard truths about her sister’s life, and the secrets each of them hid to protect others, mother and daughter reach a new understanding—and forge an unexpected path forward.

Alive with the tensions, sacrifices and joys that thrum within the heart of every family, In the Time of Our History is also laced with the richness of ancient and modern Persian culture and politics, in a tale that is both timeless and profoundly relevant.

“[A] sprawling story of loss and healing in the immigrant experiences of an Iranian American family… a heartfelt story about a family whose members seek healing while in exile.” – Foreword Reviews

“[A] luminous multigenerational tale… This expertly paced story easily navigates the cultural differences between newer Americans and older immigrants and provides a frank look at fraught family dynamics. For fans of sweeping family sagas, this is like catnip.” – Publishers Weekly

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Loathe to Love You by Ali Hazelwood

fiction / romance.

Loathe to Love YouFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a collection of steamy, STEMinist novellas featuring a trio of engineers and their loves in loathing—with a special bonus chapter!

Under One Roof:
An environmental engineer discovers that scientists should never cohabitate when she finds herself stuck with the roommate from hell—a detestable big-oil lawyer who won’t leave the thermostat alone.

Stuck with You:
A civil engineer and her nemesis take their rivalry—and love—to the next level when they get stuck in a New York elevator.

Below Zero:
A NASA aerospace engineer’s frozen heart melts as she lies injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station and the only person willing to undertake the dangerous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

“…absolutely perfect for fans of Hazelwood’s previous novels.” – The Nerd Daily

“It’s flirty, fun and full of the side of academics they don’t teach you about in school. *Winking emoji*” – Barnes & Noble

“…witty and charming… This collection will delight Hazelwood fans, new and old.” – PopSugar


Love, Clancy: Diary of a Good Dog by W. Bruce Cameron

fiction.

Love, ClancyYou’ve probably never met someone like Clancy. He’s keeping a diary, he’s falling in love, there are rivals for his affections, he lives with his best friend and his worst enemy – even taken together, these factors are maybe not that unusual, except that Clancy is a dog. His point of view is therefore perhaps…different.

Told in Cameron’s signature style, a tremendous cast of wonderful characters find themselves jointly and separately navigating the challenges of life, of love, and… other pets, including Clancy’s “worst enemy” – one very disdainful cat. It’s a lot to keep track of, especially when things start to spin hilariously out of control, but fortunately, we’ve got the observations of Clancy, a very good dog, who shares a valuable perspective on what is really important.

“Fans of Cameron’s dog-centric storytelling will enjoy… Those who have always had a sneaking suspicion that dogs are better than people will find plenty of confirmation.” – Library Journal


Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz

fiction / romance / suspense / mystery / fantasy.

Sleep No MoreSeven months ago, Pallas Llewellyn, Talia March, and Amelia Rivers were strangers, until their fateful stay at the Lucent Springs Hotel. An earthquake and a fire partially destroyed the hotel, but the women have no memory of their time there. Now close friends, the three women co-host a podcast called the Lost Night Files, where they investigate cold cases and hope to connect with others who may have had a similar experience to theirs—an experience that has somehow enhanced the psychic abilities already present in each woman.

After receiving a tip for their podcast, Pallas travels to the small college town of Carnelian, California, to explore an abandoned asylum. Shaken by the dark energy she feels in the building, she is rushing out when she’s stopped by a dark figure—who turns out to be the women’s mysterious tipster.

Ambrose Drake is certain he’s a witness to a murder, but without a body, everyone thinks he’s having delusions caused by extreme sleep deprivation. But Ambrose is positive something terrible happened at the Carnelian Sleep Institute the night he was there. Unable to find proof on his own, he approaches Pallas for help, only for her to realize that Ambrose, too, has a lost night that he can’t remember—one that may be connected to Pallas. Pallas and Ambrose conduct their investigation using the podcast as a cover, and while the townsfolk are eager to share what they know, it turns out there are others who are not so happy about their questions—and someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.

“Krentz’s plot is characteristically twisty and her characters are well-shaded… Readers will be on the edges of their seats.” – Publishers Weekly

“This book is the first in a new series, and the interesting paranormal world and unsolved plotlines will keep readers clamoring for future titles. A richly layered mystery full of pleasing paranormal elements from a master of the genre.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With her usual impeccable sense of aplomb, Krentz deftly begins her new Lost Night trilogy with a flawlessly paced plot that is both timely and timeless. Skillfully tapping into the current vogue for true-crime podcasts with her heroine’s side hustle while at the same giving a clever nod to the eternal appeal of the Gothic with the book’s creepy old sanitorium setting and rumors of a murderous ghost, Krentz’s brand of smart, sexy romantic suspense remains perfectly on point.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW


The Stolen Heir by Holly Black

fiction / young adult / fantasy / romance.

The Stolen HeirA runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.

Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.

Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years.

Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.

“…captivating…” – The Nerd Daily

“Prepare to descend back into a world of deception, opulence, and enchantment…” – Seventeen

“[F]ew authors writing today manage to make the lush, magical realm of the fairy folk more appealing. Or more frightening, if we’re honest… I loved The Stolen Heir and am so glad to be back in the world of Faerie!” – Paste


Token by Beverley Kendall

fiction / romance.

TokenTwo years ago, Kennedy Mitchell was plucked from the reception desk and placed in the corporate boardroom in the name of diversity. Rather than play along, she and her best friend founded Token, a boutique PR agency that helps “diversity-challenged” companies and celebrities. With corporate America diversifying workplaces and famous people getting into reputation-damaging controversies, Token is in high demand.

Kennedy quickly discovers there’s a lot of on-the-job learning and some messes are not so easily fixed. When Kennedy’s ex shows up needing help repairing his company’s reputation, things get even more complicated. She knows his character is being wrongly maligned, but she’s reluctant to get involved—professionally and emotionally. But soon, she finds herself drawn into a PR scandal of her own.

“Friends to lovers, family entanglements, and a much more cinnamon roll version of Christian Grey á la Fifty Shades of GreyToken is a smart and sexy romantic comedy… that is quick-witted, funny, and dives into contemporary social issues.”- BuzzFeed

“This smart and sexy novel is perfect for readers who enjoy romances featuring workplace settings and strong social commentary, as well as fans of Jasmine Guillory.” – LibraryReads

“Kendall explores the nuances of interracial dating while still offering plenty of levity throughout. Readers looking for romance with grit should snap this up.” – Publishers Weekly


The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

fiction / suspense / mystery.

The VillaAs kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

“This story’s finely honed interplay of creative ambition and haunting sadness makes it a step above. Hawkins pokes at the darker aspects of both true crime and self-help, and it works beautifully. Hawkins’ star is definitely on the rise after two bestsellers, and this one will propel her further into the stratosphere.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Hawkins casts a sharp eye throughout to the way we construct stories about female artists―and the moral ambiguity inherent in creation and fame. The effect lingers like a shadow, or a creature, that endures past the final words. Hawkins manages to achieve the seemingly impossible: A Frankenstein-inspired novel that feels both fresh and unique.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Equally compelling dual timelines intertwine as The Villa progresses, showcasing Hawkins’ skill at crafting intriguing characters who take the notion of an unreliable narrator to clever new heights. Sly commentary on self-help and true crime mixes nicely with eerie gothic elements in this inventive and provocative tale that explores the dark side of artistic genius and the corrosive effects of unhealthy relationships… Fans of twisty, creepy, layered thrillers will revel in their suspenseful stay at The Villa.” – BookPage

“…addictive and fun… a solid read with a unique edge and very cool throwback vibes.” – Novel Gossip


The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos

fiction / Young Adult / Romance.

The Wrong Kind of WeirdCameron Carson has a secret. A secret with the power to break apart his friend group.

Cameron Carson, member of the Geeks and Nerds United (GANU) club, has been secretly hooking up with student council president, cheerleader, theater enthusiast, and all-around queen bee Karla Ortega since the summer. The one problem—what was meant to be a summer fling between coffee shop coworkers has now evolved into a clandestine senior-year entanglement, where Karla isn’t intending on blending their friend groups anytime soon, or at all.

Enter Mackenzie Briggs, who isn’t afraid to be herself or wear her heart on her sleeve. When Cameron finds himself unexpectedly bonding with Mackenzie and repeatedly snubbed in public by Karla, he starts to wonder who he can truly consider a friend and who might have the potential to become more…

“Ramos’ delightful novel oozes an energetic, all-encompassing love for geek culture… A charmingly nerdy and romantic coming-of-age story.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Via an unapologetically geeky protagonist whose infectious enthusiasm for nerd culture leaps off the page, Ramos captures the sometimes all-consuming fear of trying to figure out who one truly is and the fear of letting go.” – Publishers Weekly

“James Ramos does a brilliant job weaving references to anime, manga, science fiction, video games, and classic literature into the book… the conclusion delivers.” – The Honey Pop



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