Best New Books: Week of 2/21/2023

“A peasant that reads is a prince in waiting.” – Walter Mosley, The Long Fall

Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

fiction / science fiction / fantasy.

Arch-ConspiratorOutside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end.

Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but Antigone’s parents were murdered, leaving her father’s throne vacant. As her militant uncle Kreon rises to claim it, all Antigone feels is rage. When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest.

But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.

“Veronica Roth has already proven herself to be one of the best dystopian writers right now, but this Antigone retelling takes it all to the next level. Not only does it bring a completely new spin to a familiar story, but it’s also the kind of speedy read that will kick you out of a book slump.” – Tamara Fuentes, Cosmopolitan

“[A] taut, defiant reenvisioning of Sophocles’s Antigone… The plot preserves the shape of the original without ever losing the capacity to surprise and, more importantly, prod reflection and recognition. This powerful tale of reproductive oppression is sure to wow.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Roth uses the familiar tale of Antigone as a vehicle to tell a story about desperation, hubris, tyranny, and revolution. Combined with the dystopian setting of the dying planet and the tyrannical rule of the surviving city state, the story gives readers a heroine to root for, a despot to revile, and a thought provoking ending.” – Marlene Harris, Library Journal

The Curse of the Marquis de Sade: A Notorious Scoundrel, a Mythical Manuscript, and the Biggest Scandal in Literary History by Joel Warner

nonfiction / history / true crime / Literature.

The Curse of the Marquis de SadeDescribed as both “one of the most important novels ever written” and “the gospel of evil,” 120 Days of Sodom was written by the Marquis de Sade, a notorious eighteenth-century aristocrat who waged a campaign of mayhem and debauchery across France, evaded execution, and inspired the word “sadism,” which came to mean receiving pleasure from pain. Despite all his crimes, Sade considered this work to be his greatest transgression.

The original manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom, a tiny scroll penned in the bowels of the Bastille in Paris, would embark on a centuries-spanning odyssey across Europe, passing from nineteenth-century banned book collectors to pioneering sex researchers to avant-garde artists before being hidden away from Nazi book burnings. In 2014, the world heralded its return to France when the scroll was purchased for millions by Gérard Lhéritier, the self-made son of a plumber who had used his savvy business skills to upend France’s renowned rare-book market. But the sale opened the door to vendettas by the government, feuds among antiquarian booksellers, manuscript sales derailed by sabotage, a record-breaking lottery jackpot, and allegations of a decade-long billion-euro con, the specifics of which, if true, would make the scroll part of France’s largest-ever Ponzi scheme.

Told with gripping reporting and flush with deceit and scandal, The Curse of the Marquis de Sade weaves together the sweeping odyssey of 120 Days of Sodom and the spectacular rise and fall of Lhéritier, once the “king of manuscripts” and now known to many as the Bernie Madoff of France. At its center is an urgent question for all those who cherish the written word: As the age of handwriting comes to an end, what do we owe the original texts left behind?

“As Warner demonstrates, de Sade’s depravity pales in comparison to the gyrations of financial tycoons who sought to capitalize on his most monumental work. An engrossing history of the travels of a notorious manuscript across nations and centuries.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…illuminating… The wealth of detail never slows Warner’s well-paced narrative. Literary history buffs will want to check this out.” – Publishers Weekly

The Destroyer of Worlds by Matt Ruff

fiction / horror / fantasy / science fiction / historical fiction.

The Destroyer of WorldsSummer, 1957. Atticus Turner and his father, Montrose, travel to North Carolina, where they plan to mark the centennial of their ancestor’s escape from slavery by retracing the route he took into the Great Dismal Swamp. But an encounter with an old nemesis turns their historical reenactment into a real life-and-death pursuit.

Back in Chicago, George Berry fights for his own life. Diagnosed with cancer, he strikes a devil’s bargain with the ghost of Hiram Winthrop, who promises a miracle cure—but to receive it, George will first have to bring Winthrop back from the dead.

Hippolyta isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Letitia’s sister, Ruby, has been leading a double life as her white alter ego, Hillary Hyde. Now, the supply of magic potion she needs to transform herself is nearly gone, and a surprise visitor throws her already tenuous situation into complete chaos.

“…outrageous trickery, sharp period detail, and chilling perils… [a] ripping yarn with shocks and surprises at every turn… lots of fun—and, at times, historically enlightening.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Ruff’s sequel to 2016’s Lovecraft Country delivers another virtuoso blend of horror, action, and humor… Ruff makes the most of his inventive concept and his care in crafting memorable characters means that the fates of even minor cast members make an impact. Fans will find this a worthy sequel.” – Publishers Weekly

“…expect the same genre-blending, dark humor, and creepy atmosphere from the first book… readers will be held captive until the thrilling conclusion. This series excels in how it continues to draw parallels between its pulpy plot and the entire civil rights movement. The cosmic dilemmas make for a great read, but the unease is amplified by readers’ knowledge that these Black characters are about to be thrust into a very real fight for freedom.” – Becky Spratford, Library Journal

The Education of Kendrick Perkins: A Memoir by Kendrick Perkins with Seth Rogoff

nonfiction / memoir / sports / history / current events.

The Education of Kendrick PerkinsKendrick “Perk” Perkins is known for his blunt, opinionated, “carry the hell on” commentary on ESPN’s most popular shows. As a fourteen year NBA player and starting center for the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics, Perk earned a reputation as an enforcer, a fierce defender, and a great teammate. Now, In The Education of Kendrick Perkins, he opens a different side of himself: a powerful and intimate memoir that goes beyond basketball to discuss the reality of being Black in America.

Abandoned by his father, then orphaned after the murder of his mother, Perk was raised by his grandparents in a small Texas town. He left their home at age eighteen, drafted out of high school by the legendary Celtics. For a country boy, Boston was a completely new world, and the NBA a league of legends: Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, James Harden, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, and more. Perk had to learn how to play with and against these stars, while adjusting to life on the road as a professional athlete.

But his education went beyond basketball. In this book, Perk reveals his awakening consciousness of larger issues that affected him, his fellow players, and Black Americans:
-How many NBA players grow up in broken families and difficult circumstances
-The history of slavery and how that trauma affects generations of Black life
-The truths told by writers including James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and others
-The false myths about the Black family and fatherhood
-Why George Floyd’s murder forced a reckoning about race in America

Honest, fearless, dramatic, filled with stories about life on and off the court, The Education of Kendrick Perkins is a unique memoir that shows how he and we all can “carry the hell on.”

“A well-balanced blend of activism and memoir that looks far beyond the court and locker room.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Perkins’s inside view of how Black NBA athletes have fought for equality over the course of history is eye-opening. This will resonate with basketball fans and champions of social justice.” – Publishers Weekly

Every Man a King by Walter Mosley

fiction / mystery.

Every Man a KingWhen friend of the family and multi-billionaire Roger Ferris comes to Joe with an assignment, he’s got no choice but to accept, even if the case is a tough one to stomach. White nationalist Alfred Xavier Quiller has been accused of murder and the sale of sensitive information to the Russians. Ferris has reason to believe Quiller’s been set up and he needs King to see if the charges hold.

This linear assignment becomes a winding quest to uncover the extent of Quiller’s dealings, to understand Ferris’ skin in the game, and to get to the bottom of who is working for whom. Even with the help of bodyguard and mercenary Oliya Ruez—no regular girl Friday—the machine King’s up against proves relentless and unsparing. As King gets closer to exposing the truth, he and his loved ones barrel towards grave danger.

Mosley once again proves himself a “master of craft and narrative” (National Book Foundation) in this carefully plotted mystery that is at once a classic caper, a family saga and an examination of fealty, pride and how deep debt can go.

“Mosley again shows his talent for character building, not only in the many-sided Joe, as vulnerable as he is resilient, but also in a superb supporting cast, including Joe’s daughter, Aja, and mercenary Oliya, who could easily front her own series… The second King Oliver novel lives up to the excitement generated by its Edgar-winning predecessor.” – Bill Ott, Booklist

“Mosley’s characteristic writing style is on full display, including his love of unusual similes (‘The window gazed upon New Jersey but it was a misty day, making the Garden State look like a half-formed idea’). Joe continues to fascinate as a protagonist, and the secondary characters enrich the story whether they figure into the main action or not… a worthy successor.” – Publishers Weekly

“Mosley, a modern master of the noir form, brings readers a worthy follow-up to Down the River Unto the Sea. This time, Joe King Oliver is asked for a favor from a friend he can’t refuse, a case that forces him to look into the unsavory connections between white nationalists, Russians, and high finance. Mosley knows exactly how to craft a mystery that keeps you at the edge of your seat all the while forcing you to reckon with sinister forces at the heart of American society.” – Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads

For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding

fiction / romance.

For Her ConsiderationSince a crushing breakup three years ago, Nina Rice has written romance, friends, her dreams of scriptwriting for TV, and even L.A. proper out of her life. Instead, she’s safely out in the suburbs in her aunt’s condo working her talent agency job from home, managing celebrity email accounts, and certain that’s plenty of writing–and plot–for her life. But a surprise meeting called by Ari Fox, a young actress on everyone’s radar, stirs up all kinds of feelings Nina thought she’d deleted for good…

Ari is sexy, out and proud, and a serious control freak, according to Nina’s boss. She has her own ideas about how Nina should handle her emails–and about getting to know her ghostwriter. When she tells Nina she should be writing again, Nina suddenly finds it less scary to revisit her abandoned life than seriously consider that Ari is flirting with her. Between reconnecting with her old crew and working on a new script, a relationship with a movie star seems like something she’ll definitely mess up–but what could be more worth the risk?

“Spalding makes her adult debut with a sweet, queer contemporary that gives equal weight to familial and platonic love as to the central romance… The steady support of Nina’s chosen family alongside the seemingly inevitable romance with Ari make this a cozy comfort-read.” – Publishers Weekly

“YA novelist Spalding’s adult debut is an optimistic, empathetic choice for readers, which highlights queer women pursuing creative careers and showcases a strong emotional growth arc.” – Katelyn Browne, Library Journal

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A Half-Baked Murder by Emily George

fiction / mystery.

A Half-Baked MurderFormally trained pastry chef Chloe Barnes is opening a cannabis bakery. That’s not at all what the twenty-eight-year-old envisioned while living the dream in Paris with a hot fiancé and a Michelin star restaurant gig around the corner. But the rising “it girl” of choux puffs rethinks everything after a scathing food review and humiliating breakup make her long for home in sunny California. When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Chloe returns to quaint Azalea Bay to start over in the most satisfying way possible—concocting delicious edibles with her quirky Aunt Dawn.

Combining French luxury and THC, Baked by Chloe will take pot brownies to another level. That is, until a creepy past acquaintance rehashes old drama and shockingly turns up dead—landing Aunt Dawn as the number one murder suspect. Now, alongside her closest confidants, a stunned Chloe must alternate between budding entrepreneur and amateur sleuth to clear her aunt’s name, open the best bakery in town, and weed out the real culprit from a list of unsettling suspects!

“[A] winning series launch… George checks off all the requisite boxes, including an appealing small-town setting, cute dog, close family, and the possibility of romance on the horizon… Cozy fans will eagerly await the next Cannabis Café mystery.” – Publishers Weekly

“This fun and fact-filled thematic entry into the cozy mystery genre has it all… With increasing acceptance of cannabis as a supplement to medical care, this series starter helps normalize its use and promotes safe consumption, complete with designated drivers. Highly recommended.” – Sarah Sullivan, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“This is one richly drawn mystery that does a great job of introducing us to a wonderful protagonist, a compelling group of characters, and a fascinating community… In this debut, author George has laid the foundation for a series that feels fresh, young, and full of surprises.” – First Clue, STARRED REVIEW

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I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

fiction / mystery / suspense.

I Have Some Questions for YouA successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.

But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.

In I Have Some Questions for You, award-winning author Rebecca Makkai has crafted her most irresistible novel yet: a stirring investigation into collective memory and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, with a transfixing mystery at its heart. Timely, hypnotic, and populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, I Have Some Questions for You is at once a compulsive page-turner and a literary triumph.

“This psychological thriller hits all the high notes, complete with at least a few revelations you won’t see coming.” – Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping

“Makkai has crafted an un-put-downable, captivating boarding school mystery novel with podcasting, teaching, race, divorce, parenting, professional drive, and teen dynamics as undercurrents… The writing in this book is absolutely A+ sensational. Pure perfection.” – Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“Thought-provoking, deeply unsettling and undeniably riveting… Part #MeToo manifesto, part true-crime page-turner, part campus coming-of-age, [I Have Some Questions for You] serves up compelling insights about the fallibility of memory and the slippery nature of truth… it’s a fully immersive, addictive whodunit.” – Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle

“Makkai’s triumph of a novel mixes clever storytelling with an exploration of consent, control and memory… satisfying and cleverly multi-layered… combines the smarts of literary fiction with the thrills of a whodunnit, topped with all the divertissements of the best boarding school-set dramas.” – Lucy Scholes, Financial Times

“A beguiling campus novel… Chilled as the deep New England winters during which it takes place and twisty with the slowly found and then suddenly illuminated branches of memory, Makkai’s rich, winding story dazzles from cover to cover.” – Annie Bostrom, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

In Farm’s Way by Amanda Flower

fiction / mystery.

In Farm's WayEven the best-laid plants can go awry…

After solving a murder and getting her organic farm ready to overwinter, Shiloh Bellamy still expects the next few months to be busy with repairs, spring planning, and networking with local businesses. She might even be able to broker a new partnership with Fields Brewery and its organic brewer’s association. Well, she could if the owner wasn’t found murdered at the county Ice Fishing Derby.

Once again, Shiloh gets tangled up in the investigation when the police ignore an entire crop of suspects to blame one of her friends. She’ll have to dig deep to find the truth, reel in a killer, and convince her city-slicker pug to wear his winter boots. But with Bellamy Farm still struggling, can Shiloh spare the time to look into the town’s fishy characters? Or will her dream farm be the next thing floating belly up?

“An adorable pug and characters you can invest in enliven a very cherry-centric mystery.” – Kirkus Reviews

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It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce

fiction / suspense / mystery.

It Ends at MidnightIt’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialize.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.

They want revenge.

“Characterization and narrative drive conjoin impeccably in Tyce’s tense tale.” – Barry Forshaw, Financial Times

“[A] tantalizing psychological thriller… Clues to what’s really going on are dropped at a perfect pace as Sylvie’s distrust of herself and others grows and the plot barrels toward its deadly conclusion at Hogmanay. Tyce is a writer to watch.” – Publishers Weekly

“In this dark and disturbing mix of psychological suspense and legal thriller, Tyce explores themes of sexual assault, infidelity, jealousy, obsession, and revenge. When reputations are questioned, will regret and guilt compel characters to do the right thing? The palpable tension and riveting suspense will appeal to those who enjoy both courtroom dramas and locked-room mysteries.” – Booklist

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It’s One of Us by J.T. Ellison

fiction / suspense / mystery.

It's One of UsEverybody lies. Even the ones you think you know best of all…

Olivia Bender designs exquisite home interiors that satisfy the most demanding clients. But her own deepest desire can’t be fulfilled by marble counters or the perfect rug. She desperately wants to be a mother. Fertility treatments and IVF keep failing. And just when she feels she’s at her lowest point, the police deliver shocking news to Olivia and her husband, Park.

DNA results show that the prime suspect in a murder investigation is Park’s son. Olivia is relieved, knowing this is a mistake. Despite their desire, the Benders don’t have any children. Then comes the confession. Many years ago, Park donated sperm to a clinic. He has no idea how many times it was sold—or how many children he has sired.

As the murder investigation goes deeper, more terrible truths come to light. With every revelation, Olivia must face the unthinkable. The man she married has fathered a killer. But can she hold that against him when she keeps such dark secrets of her own?

This twisting, emotionally layered thriller explores the lies we tell to keep a marriage together–or break each other apart…

“Betrayal, obsession, and familial ties that bind create a tension-filled story with an intriguing theme. Readers will race through the pages to an end they didn’t see coming.” – K.L. Romo, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“…enthralling… The assorted points-of-view of the major characters, including Olivia, Park, the two detectives, and the murderer, provide subtle and shifting takes on the information presented by the other characters… Ellison reliably entertains.” – Publishers Weekly

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The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry

fiction / suspense / mystery / ACTION.

The Last KingdomKing Ludwig II of Bavaria was an enigmatic figure who was deposed in 1886, mysteriously drowning three days later. Eccentric to the point of madness, history tells us that in the years before he died Ludwig engaged in a worldwide search for a new kingdom, one separate, apart, and in lieu of Bavaria. A place he could retreat into and rule as he wished. But a question remains: did he succeed?

Enter Cotton Malone. After many months, Malone’s protégé, Luke Daniels, has managed to infiltrate a renegade group intent on winning Bavarian independence from Germany. Daniels has also managed to gain the trust of the prince of Bavaria, a frustrated second son intent on eliminating his brother, the duke, and restoring the Wittelsbach monarchy, only now with him as king. Everything hinges on a 19th century deed which proves that Ludwig’s long-rumored search bore fruit–legal title to lands that Germany, China, and the United States all now want, only for vastly different reasons.

In a race across Bavaria for clues hidden in Ludwig’s three fairytale castles–Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee–Malone and Daniels battle an ever-growing list of deadly adversaries, all intent on finding the last kingdom.

“When readers crack open a new Malone adventure, it’s like reuniting with an old friend. You know the guy: how he thinks, what really ticks him off, what he might do in a certain type of situation. At the same time, he has an unpredictable streak that keeps readers on their toes; there’s always an element of surprise in a Cotton Malone novel, always something we don’t see coming. Another strong entry in a consistently fine series.” – David Pitt, Booklist

“Ad hoc alliances are forged and broken, double crosses drive up the body count, inventive, overcaffeinated set pieces are teed up at a breakneck pace, and two different secret codes will keep puzzle solvers busy as Malone does his level best to disprove his own hard-won wisdom: ‘Hotshots never survived long.’ About what you’d expect if James Bond were an American who consulted with the CIA. Bring it on.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Berry is like a fine-tuned machine, melding historical fact and authentic locales within a complex fictional storyline. History enthusiasts will relish the intricate research behind the spy-versus-spy thriller, which challenges readers to consider historical what-ifs.” – K.L. Romo, Library Journal

The Librarian of Burned Books by Brianna Labuskes

fiction / historical Fiction.

The Librarian of Burned BooksBerlin 1933. Following the success of her debut novel, American writer Althea James receives an invitation from Joseph Goebbels himself to participate in a culture exchange program in Germany. For a girl from a small town in Maine, 1933 Berlin seems to be sparklingly cosmopolitan, blossoming in the midst of a great change with the charismatic new chancellor at the helm. Then Althea meets a beautiful woman who promises to show her the real Berlin, and soon she’s drawn into a group of resisters who make her question everything she knows about her hosts–and herself.

Paris 1936. She may have escaped Berlin for Paris, but Hannah Brecht discovers the City of Light is no refuge from the anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathizers she thought she left behind. Heartbroken and tormented by the role she played in the betrayal that destroyed her family, Hannah throws herself into her work at the German Library of Burned Books. Through the quiet power of books, she believes she can help counter the tide of fascism she sees rising across Europe and atone for her mistakes. But when a dear friend decides actions will speak louder than words, Hannah must decide what stories she is willing to live–or die–for.

New York 1944. Since her husband Edward was killed fighting the Nazis, Vivian Childs has been waging her own war: preventing a powerful senator’s attempts to censor the Armed Service Editions, portable paperbacks that are shipped by the millions to soldiers overseas. Viv knows just how much they mean to the men through the letters she receives–including the last one she got from Edward. She also knows the only way to win this battle is to counter the senator’s propaganda with a story of her own–at the heart of which lies the reclusive and mysterious woman tending the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books in Brooklyn.

As Viv unknowingly brings her censorship fight crashing into the secrets of the recent past, the fates of these three women will converge, changing all of them forever.

Inspired by the true story of the Council of Books in Wartime–the WWII organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, and authors to use books as “weapons in the war of ideas”–The Librarian of Burned Books is an unforgettable historical novel, a haunting love story, and a testament to the beauty, power, and goodness of the written word.

“Terrific research buttresses strong writing that will keep readers riveted.” – Barbara Conaty, Library Journal

“As Labuskes weaves the women’s perspectives together, she not only highlights the pain of censorship, suppression, and dehumanization but also issues a stark reminder that history repeats itself. At the same time, she plants seeds of hope in her characters’ refusal to let the stories that should bring us together be silenced and their ability to let love conquer despair.” – Maribeth Fisher, Booklist

Lotería by Cynthia Pelayo

fiction / horror / fantasy.

LoteriaThe Mexican board game of Lotería is a game of chance. It is similar to our American bingo. However, in Lotería instead of matching up numbers on a game board, players match up images.

There are 54 cards in the Lotería game, and for this short story collection you will find one unique story per card based on a Latin American myth, folklore, superstition, or belief – with a slant towards the paranormal and horrific. In this deck of cards you will find murderers, ghosts, goblins and ghouls. This collection features creatures and monsters, vampires and werewolves and many of these legends existed in the Americas long before their European counterparts.

Many of these stories have been passed over time throughout the Americas, and many have been passed via word of mouth, just like the tales the Brothers Grimm collected. These are indeed fairy tales, but with a much more terrible little slant.

“‘The Flag,’ wherein a young boy seeks to understand his night terrors about an otherworldly ship, and ‘The Arrows,’ which tackles Japan’s suicide forest, are both masterworks, slow burning horror shorts leading to perfect, chilling endings… with such an expansive selection to choose from, fans of speculative fiction are certain to find something to enjoy.” – Publishers Weekly

“The broken tale and imaginative first-person narration lend weight to this curious novel. It’s an impressive first step for an artist exploring a new medium.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Horror fans will enjoy 54 original stories full of murderers, monsters, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm and Horacio Quiroga.” – Booklist

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Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears by Michael Schulman

nonfiction / history / film.

Oscar WarsAmerica does not have royalty. It has the Academy Awards. For nine decades, perfectly coiffed starlets, debonair leading men, and producers with gold in their eyes have chased the elusive Oscar. What began as an industry banquet in 1929 has now exploded into a hallowed ceremony, complete with red carpets, envelopes, and little gold men. But don’t be fooled by the pomp: the Oscars, more than anything, are a battlefield, where the history of Hollywood–and of America itself–unfolds in dramas large and small. The road to the Oscars may be golden, but it’s paved in blood, sweat, and broken hearts.

In Oscar Wars, Michael Schulman chronicles the remarkable, sprawling history of the Academy Awards and the personal dramas–some iconic, others never-before-revealed–that have played out on the stage and off camera. Unlike other books on the subject, each chapter takes a deep dive into a particular year, conflict, or even category that tells a larger story of cultural change, from Louis B. Mayer to Moonlight. Schulman examines how the red carpet runs through contested turf, and the victors aren’t always as clear as the names drawn from envelopes. Caught in the crossfire are people: their thwarted ambitions, their artistic epiphanies, their messy collaborations, their dreams fulfilled or dashed.

Featuring a star-studded cast of some of the most powerful Hollywood players of today and yesterday, as well as outsiders who stormed the palace gates, this captivating history is a collection of revelatory tales, each representing a turning point for the Academy, for the movies, or for the culture at large.

“Educational and gleefully gossipy, this industry tell-all is a wildly entertaining ride.” – David Vogel, BuzzFeed

“Schulman, a staff writer at The New Yorker, combines thorough research with an eye for drama in this highly entertaining history of the Academy Awards… The behind-the-scenes perspectives don’t skimp on juicy trivia while the connections Schulman draws to larger societal issues illustrate the power and limitations of cinema to reflect and drive change. This will thrill cinephiles.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] rich, deeply reported history… compelling… This Oscars history mixes all the expected glitz and glamour with enough industry intrigue to power an award-winning drama.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy

fiction / mystery / suspense.

Scorched GraceWhen Saint Sebastian’s School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding community are thrust into chaos. Unsatisfied with the officials’ response, sardonic and headstrong Sister Holiday becomes determined to unveil the mysterious attacker herself and return her home and sanctuary to its former peace. Her investigation leads down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets in the sticky, oppressive New Orleans heat, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way.

Sister Holiday is more faithful than most, but she’s no saint. To piece together the clues of this high-stakes mystery, she must first reckon with the sins of her checkered past-and neither task will be easy.

An exciting start to Margot Douaihy’s bold series for Gillian Flynn Books that breathes new life into the hard-boiled genre, Scorched Grace is a fast-paced and punchy whodunnit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Scorched Grace is like no other book you’ve ever read.” – Gwendolyn Kiste, The Lineup

“Sister Holiday, the protagonist of Margot Douaihy’s showstopper of a series debut Scorched Grace isn’t what you’d imagine a nun to be like, even in laissez-faire New Orleans… I cannot wait to read the sister’s next investigation, of mysteries and of her own self.” – Sarah Weinman, New York Times

“A powerful story about religion and sin, family, and secrets… Scorched Grace is a unique and emotional novel, set against the backdrop of New Orleans in all its sticky, sweaty heat and unrelenting beauty and charm… When the ending hits, it is delightfully unexpected, bringing all the plot’s twists and turns to one satisfying finale. Scorched Grace has all of the makings of an award-winning novel, and I see Douaihy skyrocketing to fame. Her novel is similar to creative, renowned works by authors like Douglas Stuart, and Douaihy’s unique and modern writing should receive similar accolades.” – Erin Clemence, Mystery & Suspense

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Sink: A Memoir by Joseph Earl Thomas

nonfiction / memoir.

SinkStranded within an ever-shifting family’s desperate but volatile attempts to love, saddled with a mercurial mother mired in crack addiction, and demeaned daily for his perceived weakness, Joseph Earl Thomas grew up feeling he was under constant threat. Roaches fell from the ceiling, colonizing bowls of noodles and cereal boxes. Fists and palms pounded down at school and at home, leaving welts that ached long after they disappeared. An inescapable hunger gnawed at his frequently empty stomach, and requests for food were often met with indifference if not open hostility. Deemed too unlike the other boys to ever gain the acceptance he so desperately desired, he began to escape into fantasy and virtual worlds, wells of happiness in a childhood assailed on all sides.

In a series of exacting and fierce vignettes, Thomas guides readers through the unceasing cruelty that defined his circumstances, laying bare the depths of his loneliness and illuminating the vital reprieve geek culture offered him. With remarkable tenderness and devastating clarity, he explores how lessons of toxic masculinity were drilled into his body and the way the cycle of violence permeated the very fabric of his environment. Even in the depths of isolation, there were unexpected moments of joy carved out, from summers where he was freed from the injurious structures of his surroundings to the first glimpses of kinship he caught on his journey to becoming a Pokémon master. Sink follows Thomas’s coming-of-age towards an understanding of what it means to lose the desire to fit in—with his immediate peers, turbulent family, or the world—and how good it feels to build community, love, and salvation on your own terms.

“[A] brilliant coming-of-age story.” – Joumana Khatib, New York Times

“Thomas is a skilled prose stylist, and Sink is loaded with arresting imagery and insights into the eerie space between claustrophobia and freedom unique to childhood.” – Isle McElroy, Vulture

“[A] wrenching debut… Thomas’s prose delivers an emotional gut punch… The result is a lyrical exploration of identity and survival.” – Publishers Weekly

“In his debut, Thomas announces his unusual approach to memoir in the first sentence: written in third person and including both real and imagined characters… It takes rare courage to tell a story this harsh and unredeemed.” – Kirkus Reviews

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

fiction / horror / fantasy.

Sister, Maiden, MonsterTo survive they must evolve.

A virus tears across the globe, transforming its victims in nightmarish ways. As the world collapses, dark forces pull a small group of women together.

Erin, once quiet and closeted, acquires an appetite for a woman and her brain. Why does forbidden fruit taste so good?

Savannah, a professional BDSM switch, discovers a new turn-on: committing brutal murders for her eldritch masters.

Mareva, plagued with chronic tumors, is too horrified to acknowledge her divine role in the coming apocalypse, and as her growths multiply, so too does her desperation.

Inspired by her Bram Stoker Award-winning story “Magdala Amygdala,” Lucy A. Snyder delivers a cosmic tale about the planet’s disastrous transformation… and what we become after.

“Snyder… [sets] a new standard for readers looking to try cosmic horror. Fans of this subgenre will be delighted, awestruck, and terrified in equal measure.” – Becky Spratford, Library Journal

“This is a book for horror aficionados to exult in. It’s seamlessly constructed, frequently funny, joyfully queer, and unapologetically gross, with plot twists that feel both wholly unexpected and inevitable.” – Stephanie Klose, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Snyder’s bold and succinct descriptions create a visceral aura of terror and desperation. Readers will feel dread as they’re pulled along on this thrilling ride.” – Publishers Weekly

Things We Hide from the Light by Lucy Score

fiction / romance.

Things We Hide from the LightNash Morgan was always known as the good Morgan brother, with a smile and a wink for everyone. But now, this chief of police is recovering from being shot and his Southern charm has been overshadowed by panic attacks and nightmares. He feels like a broody shell of the man he once was. Nash isn’t about to let anyone in his life know he’s struggling. But his new next-door neighbor, smart and sexy Lina, sees his shadows. As a rule, she’s not a fan of physical contact unless she initiates it, but for some reason Nash’s touch is different. He feels it too. The physical connection between them is incendiary, grounding him and making her wonder if exploring it is worth the risk.

Too bad Lina’s got secrets of her own, and if Nash finds out the real reason she’s in town, he’ll never forgive her. Besides, she doesn’t do relationships. Ever. A hot, short-term fling with a local cop? Absolutely. Sign her up. A relationship with a man who expects her to plant roots? No freaking way. Once she gets what she’s after, she has no intention of sticking around. But Knockemout has a way of getting under people’s skin. And once Nash decides to make Lina his, he’s not about to be dissuaded…even if it means facing the danger that nearly killed him.

“Score fans will be pleased.” – Erin Holt, Library Journal

“Score keeps the pages turning with a twisty, danger-laced plot; feisty leads; and blazing passion… This lively tale will delight series fans.” – Publishers Weekly

Users by Colin Winnette

fiction / science fiction.

UsersMiles, a lead creative at a midsize virtual reality company known for its “original experiences,” has engineered a new product called The Ghost Lover. The “game” is simple: a user’s simulated life is almost identical to their reality, except they’re haunted by the ghost of an ex-lover. Responding to and manipulating the user’s mind and body in perfect, dystopian harmony, The Ghost Lover becomes wildly popular—and wildly controversial—in the VR world.

When Miles receives a series of anonymous death threats—typed notes sealed in envelopes with no postage or return address—paranoid panic begins blurring his own sense of reality, catalyzing the collapse of his career, his marriage, and his relationship with his children.

The once-promising road to success becomes a narrow set of choices for Miles, who, in a last ditch effort to save his job, pitches his masterpiece, a revolutionary device code-named the Egg, which will transform the company. The consequences for Miles seal him inside the walls of his life as what was once anxiety explodes into devastating absoluteness.

In a world rife with the unchecked power and ambition of tech, Users investigates—with both humor and creeping dread—how interpersonal experiences and private decisions influence the hasty developments that have the power to permanently alter the landscape of human experience.

“Gripping, clever, and terrifying, Users sucks you in just like a video game.” – Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“A perceptive, subtly moving novel… Winnette’s thoughtful depiction gives [Miles] a heart that’s not beyond redemption.” – Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle

“A thoughtful exploration of parasocial relationships or the way real ones can turn into odd hauntings.” – Megan Crouse, Den of Geek

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Whatever Next?: Lessons from an Unexpected Life by Anne Glenconner

nonfiction / memoir.

Whatever NextLady in Waiting brought us royal magic, beguiling insight, and jaw-dropping stories from life inside Anne Glenconner’s privileged circle, which though golden didn’t always glitter. As she revealed in her memoir, it has been one of stark contrasts—from growing up in the splendor of Holkham Hall to living in a tent in the jungle of Mustique, from traveling the world with Princess Margaret to coping with her wildly unpredictable husband Lord Glenconner. She has also survived the tragic loss of two of her sons and nursed a third son back from a coma.

Now in her ninth decade and at her happiest, she’s keen to share everything her unexpected life has taught her—the wise, the hilarious, the poignant, and the illuminating. As a wife, she became a master in the art of keeping the peace, knowing when to pick her battles, when she needed help—and when to take a lover. As a hostess, she acquired great practical skills in throwing marvelous parties and looking after magnificent homes, and, as a lady in waiting, became well versed in diplomacy and etiquette. It was as a mother she learnt the toughest lessons of all, and through them the value of friendship, family, and laughter to get her through the worst moments in life, as well as celebrate the best of them.

Whatever Next? is a treasury of hard-won wisdom, and richly entertaining proof that staying open to every new adventure sets an inspiring example for us all.

“[Whatever Next?] is more personal and paints a more vivid picture of [the royals’] claustrophobic world… Glenconner has dealt, over her nine decades, with a difficult marriage, the death of two sons, all the limits placed on a lady of her generation — and seems to have done so with great charm… It’s a memoir of another time, when England was smaller and the empire larger, and aristocrats truly were the untouchable celebrities.” – Sadie Stein, New York Times

“This second volume of memoirs is as fascinating at the first… The book is full of wit, joy, vivid vignettes, and useful insights on topics such as parenting, adventures, and being a good guest. Readers keen on startling detail about aristocratic life will find plenty here.” – India Knight, The Times

“Both Lady in Waiting and follow-up volume Whatever Next?… are funnier and sadder than might be expected. While never losing sight of the advantages of being born into an élite family, Glenconner offers a poignant perspective on the constraining limits on aristocratic women of her generation, whose formal educations were minimal and whose life expectations revolved around marrying well, managing a large household, and providing a male heir.” – Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker

Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear by Erica Berry

nonfiction / memoir / science / nature / history / psychology.

WolfishIn this enthralling, kaleidoscopic exploration of wolves both real and symbolic, Erica Berry weaves historic and scientific findings alongside criticism, journalism, and memoir to illuminate the strands of our cultural constructions of predator and prey, and what it means to navigate a world in which we can be both.

From 17th-century Europeans referring to mysterious bodily sores as wolves, to contemporary xenophobia about wolves crossing national borders, wolves have long been made to carry our most entrenched sociopolitical, environmental, and bodily fears. Intimate and thought-provoking, Wolfish is a lyrical inquiry into the relationship between humans and wolves, anchored in the dual stories of one legendary tagged wolf, OR-7, and the author.

Charting OR-7’s long-distance solo journey after he leaves his pack in northeastern Oregon beside the author’s own roaming trajectory away from her Oregon home, Wolfish wrestles with inherited narratives around fear, danger, and the body. From her grandfather’s sheep farm to a wolf sanctuary on an aristocratic English estate, Erica Berry untangles binaries of predator and prey, self and other, and wild and domestic, finding new expressions for how to be a brave woman, human, and animal in our warming world.

Perfect for readers of cultural criticism, environmental writing, Rebecca Solnit, H is for Hawk, or anybody trying to navigate a world that is often scary. A timely and necessary book for current and future generations.

“A prize-winning journalist, Berry lets no one off the hook―not man nor beast nor woman. What do we fear, and when, and why? This book should be required reading.” – Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

“Blending science writing with memoir and cultural criticism, Wolfish is a powerful exploration of predators and their prey delivered with an unflinching and vulnerable honesty… a necessary environmental memoir: that which acknowledges fear in its ongoing pursuit of hope.” – Isle McElroy, Vulture

“This blend of memoir and nature writing will call to those who delve deeply into themselves and into our relationship with the wild.” – Booklist

“The story of the wolves repopulating Oregon takes center stage, alongside traditional tales from Aesop to the Brothers Grimm. It is compared and contrasted with anecdotes from the author’s own life, which provide a framework for examining the bigger picture—the nature of fear and how it makes some feel inclined to vilify people, places, and experiences they do not fully comprehend or have not directly encountered. A fascinating read, perfect for fans of Mary Roach’s Fuzz, or anyone who enjoys learning about wolves and what they can teach about human nature.” – Jennifer Moore, Library Journal

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

fiction / suspense / mystery / horror.

The Writing RetreatAlex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of friendships and fame, The Writing Retreat is an unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

“The book’s pacing—a slow roll of dread and horror, especially in the first half—is exceptional. Bartz hits all the gothic highlights, but, far from feeling stale, they work. A perfect winter night’s haunting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[An] audacious psychological thriller debut… Boldly drawn characters complement Bartz’s gleefully twisted plot… Sara Gran fans, take note.” – Publishers Weekly

“Stomach-clenchingly thrilling from beginning to end… psychologically jarring and fast paced, with several surprises that will excite even the most well read mystery aficionado. Highly recommended for fans of authors like Ruth Ware and Riley Sager…” – Carmen Clark, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW


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