The Haunting of Alejandra

Best New Books: Week of 4/18/23

“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.” – David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon

Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler


AdelaideFor twenty-six-year-old Adelaide Williams, an American living in dreamy London, meeting Rory Hughes was like a lightning bolt out of the blue: this charming Englishman was The One she wasn’t even looking for.

Is it enough?

Does he respond to texts? Honor his commitments? Make advance plans? Sometimes, rarely, and no, not at all. But when he shines his light on her, the world makes sense, and Adelaide is convinced that, in his heart, he’s fallen just as deeply as she has. Then, when Rory is rocked by an unexpected tragedy, Adelaide does everything in her power to hold him together—even if it means losing herself in the process.

When love asks too much of us, how do we find the strength to put ourselves first?

With unflinching honesty and heart, this relatable debut from a fresh new voice explores grief and mental health while capturing the timeless nature of what it’s like to be young and in love—with your friends, with your city, and with a person who cannot, will not, love you back.

“[A] heartfelt debut… Though there’s no magical component in this book, fans of The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, will identify with Adelaide’s journey.” – Cari Dubiel, Booklist

“Wheeler’s debut is searingly raw… Her whole soul is poured out onto the pages, and you’ll find it hard not to feel your own heart crack and stomach turn as Adelaide tries without avail to win the love of someone who simply can’t give it. Wheeler deftly relates Adelaide’s journey of unbending friendship, grief, and passion, and for many readers, her tale will strike a resonant chord. Vulnerable, tender, and impossible to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Wheeler perfectly captures her protagonist’s depression, anxiety, and negative self-talk—not to mention her keen agony of unrequited love—and a solid supporting cast provides Adelaide with ample emotional support. The complex heroine animates every page.” – Publishers Weekly

City of Dreams by Don Winslow

fiction / suspense / mystery.

City of DreamsHollywood.

The city where dreams are made.

On the losing side of a bloody East Coast crime war, Danny Ryan is now on the run. The Mafia, the cops, the FBI all want him dead or in prison. With his little boy, his elderly father and the tattered remnants of his loyal crew of soldiers, he makes the classic American migration to California to start a new life.

A quiet, peaceful existence.

But the Feds track him down and want Danny to do them a favor that could make him a fortune or kill him.

And when Hollywood starts shooting a film based on his former life, Danny demands a piece of the action and begins to rebuild his criminal empire.

Then he falls in love.

With a beautiful movie star who has a dark past of her own.

As their worlds collide in an explosion that could destroy them both, Danny Ryan has to fight for his life in a city where dreams are born.

Or where they go to die.

From the shores of Rhode Island to the deserts of California where bodies disappear, from the power corridors of Washington where the real criminals operate to the fabled movie studios of Hollywood where the real money is made, City of Dreams is a sweeping saga of family, love, revenge, survival and the fierce reality behind the dream.

“…powerful… fans of Dennis Lehane and Richard Price are sure to be well pleased.” – Publishers Weekly

City of Dreams is a superb story of resolve, renewal, and remorse. Don Winslow utilizes all of his storytelling genius… a wonderful bridge between the sensational start and the explosive ending of what will be an iconic trilogy.” – J. Todd Wilkins, The Best Thriller Books

City of Dreams picks up exactly where City on Fire left off, and the result is even sharper, funnier, and more brilliant than its predecessor… Being a passenger in Danny’s head can be unnerving, because he never met a wrong choice he didn’t want to make, but Winslow makes this Aeneid-inspired tale soar—sometimes from epic to venal, or from poignant to comical—and it makes the wait for the third book unbearable.” – Vannessa Cronin, Amazon

“The second volume in Winslow’s Danny Ryan trilogy delivers on all the promise of its predecessor… Like Dennis Lehane’s Joe Coughlin trilogy, also about a New England gangster looking for but failing to find a separate peace, the Danny Ryan saga draws great power from its consummate portrait of a man whose unshakable humanity imperils him just as it offers the possibility of salvation.” – Bill Ott, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Fiancée Farce by Alexandria Bellefleur

fiction / romance / comedy.

The Fiancée FarceTansy Adams’ greatest love is her family’s bookstore, passed down from her late father. But when it comes to actual romance… Tansy can’t get past the first chapter. Tired of her stepfamily’s questions about her love life, Tansy invents Gemma, a fake girlfriend inspired by the stunning cover model on a bestselling book. They’ll never actually meet, so what’s the harm in a little fib? Yet when real-life Gemma crosses Tansy’s path, her white lie nearly implodes.

Gemma van Dalen is a wild child, the outcast of her wealthy family, and now the latest heir to Van Dalen Publishing. But the title comes with one tiny condition: she must be married in order to inherit. When Gemma discovers a beautiful stranger has been pretending to date her for months, she decides to take the charade one step further—and announces their engagement.

Gemma needs a wife to meet the terms of her grandfather’s will and Tansy needs money to save her struggling bookstore. A marriage could be mutually beneficial, if they can fool everyone into thinking it’s a love match. Unexpected sparks fly as Tansy and Gemma play the role of affectionate fiancées, and suddenly the line between convenient arrangement and real feelings begins to blur. But the scheming Van Dalen family won’t give up the company without a fight, and Gemma and Tansy’s newfound happiness might get caught in the fallout…

“Alexandria Bellefleur powers this fake dating masterpiece with boatloads of heart and the result is perhaps her most divine tale yet.” – Rachel Strolle, BuzzFeed

“A sharp and witty novel that revels in soapy romance tropes…” – Elizabeth Gabriel, Library Journal

“Written with a surfeit of quippy wit and graced with a delightfully quirky constellation of supporting characters, Lambda Literary Award winner Bellefleur’s fun, fresh take on the marriage of convenience trope delivers all the romantically swoon-worthy moments and steamy chemistry romance readers crave.” – John Charles, Booklist

“Bellefleur’s snappy prose is perfect for the banter between Tansy and Gemma, and it’s delightful to watch the tension build between them… the payoff is deeply satisfying… Fans of Casey McQuiston should check this out.” – Publishers Weekly

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa by Stephen Buoro


The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy AfricaAndrew Aziza is a fifteen-year-old boy living in Kontagora in Northern Nigeria. He lives with his secretive mother, Gloria, and spends his days about town with his droogs, Slim and Morocca. He’s contemplating the larger questions with his teacher Zahrah and his equally brilliant friend Fatima, a Hausa-Fulani girl who clearly has feelings for him. Together they discuss mathematical theorems, Black power, and what Andy has deemed the curse of Africa.

Inevitably, Andy falls hopelessly in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on: Eileen, Father McMahon’s niece. But at the church party held to celebrate her arrival, multiple crises loom. The first is that an unfamiliar man there claims to be Andy’s father. The second is that an anti-Christian mob has gathered, headed for the church. In the ensuing havoc and its aftermath, Andy is forced to reckon with his identity and desires and determine how to live on the so-called Cursed Continent.

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa announces a dazzling, distinctive, new literary voice. Crackling with energy, this tragicomic novel provides a stunning lens into contemporary African life, the complicity of the West, and the impossible challenges of coming of age in a turbulent world.

“[A] compelling but never boring portrait… Written in an obscene, colloquial style reminiscent of Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie, the novel is funny, raucous, and most devastating in its depictions of the dearth of choices young Nigerians have today.” – Tomi Obaro, BuzzFeed

“Hilarious and heartbreaking and full of surprises…” – Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia Inquirer

“A barnstorming, heartbreaking debut… Tackling the perils of carving out a unique identity in a world of carnage and confusion, in the shadow of colonialism, this assured, engaging book, will make you fall in love with teenager Andy Aziza, and will undoubtedly make a star of Stephen Buoro.” – Marie-Claire Chappet, Harper’s Bazaar

“Buoro is a writer of imagination and flair… His sentences are mad, boisterous, incantatory-and, in a continent where rhythm is as common as praying, quite singular. The prose on any page could only be his. And Andy Africa is an unforgettable character: an old soul, goofy and generous, who dreams his evanescent dreams while battling his friends’ joshing and his own longings. The challenges facing young people-among them poverty, corruption and the vision of life in Europe and America that social media peddles- are one reason contemporary African literature is rich in coming-of-age stories. For its sheer energy, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is among the best.” – The Economist

Greek Lessons by Han Kangl; translated by Deborah Smith & Emily Yae Won

fiction / romance.

Greek Lessons“Now and then, language would thrust its way into her sleep like a skewer through meat, startling her awake several times a night…”

In a classroom in Seoul, a young woman watches her Greek language teacher at the blackboard. She tries to speak but has lost her voice. Her teacher finds himself drawn to the silent woman, for day by day he is losing his sight.

Soon they discover a deeper pain binds them together. For her, in the space of just a few months, she has lost both her mother and the custody battle for her nine-year-old son. For him, it’s the pain of growing up between Korea and Germany, being torn between two cultures and languages, and the fear of losing his independence.

Greek Lessons tells the story of two ordinary people brought together at a moment of private anguish—the fading light of a man losing his vision meeting the silence of a woman who has lost her language. Yet these are the very things that draw them to one another. Slowly the two discover a profound sense of unity—their voices intersecting with startling beauty, as they move from darkness to light, from silence to breath and expression.

Greek Lessons is the story of the unlikely bond between this pair and a tender love letter to human intimacy and connection—a novel to awaken the senses, one that vividly conjures the essence of what it means to be alive.

“…quiet, sharply faceted, and devastating… it’s Han’s exploration of their limitations—both linguistic and visual—that makes the novel so deeply moving. On page after page, she describes ever so meticulously the ways we are cut off from the world even as we yearn for it. A stunning exploration of language, memory, and beauty from an internationally renowned writer.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…Han Kang’s newly translated novel is her gutsiest yet… turns the well-worn idea of the mind-body disconnect into something fresh and substantial… In Greek Lessons Kang reaches beyond the usual senses to translate the unspeakable.” – Michele Filgate, Los Angeles Times

“…empathically timeless, a potential-love-story-in-progress that is another intimate, lingering meditation on identity and autonomy… Han’s signature elliptical, incisive writing first introduces “she” and “he” as separate loners, each struggling in isolation. What might originally read like a bifurcated narrative deftly intertwines into a haunting exploration of tentative possibilities and yearned-for connections.” – Terry Hong, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“In prose that merges memory, story, and poetry, Kang tracks how the two find in one another what is missing from the sensual world. This brilliant, shimmering work is never at a loss for words even when exploring the mind of a woman who won’t speak, and its pursuit of an authentic, exquisite new form is profound. Once again, Kang demonstrates great visionary power.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

fiction / horror / fantasy.

The Haunting of AlejandraAlejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.

Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.

When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.

Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.

But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever.

“Castro is one of the most exciting genre authors on the scene right now, and this might be her most powerful book yet.” – Matthew Jackson, Paste

“[A] ravishing and provocative literary horror novel about motherhood, family legacy, and self-discovery.” – Emily Hughes, Jump Scares

“A surprisingly moving, piercingly effective parable about exorcisms of all sorts of demons.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Utterly terrifying and wholly immersive, this novel will wow readers with its confident and unflinching tale of a woman reclaiming her power.” – Becky Spratford, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

If We’re Being Honest by Cat Shook


If We're Being HonestWhen Gerry, the beloved Williams patriarch, dies suddenly, his grandchildren flock from across the country to the family home in Eulalia, Georgia. But when Gerry’s best friend steps up to the microphone to deliver his eulogy, the funeral turns out unlike anyone expected. The cousins, left reeling and confused, cope with their fresh grief and various private dramas. Delia, recently heartbroken, refuses to shut up about her ex. Her sister Alice, usually confident, flusters when she spots her high school sweetheart, hiding a secret that will change both of their lives. Outspoken, affable Grant is preening in the afterglow of his recent appearance on The Bachelorette and looking to reignite an old flame with the least available person in town. Meanwhile, his younger brother Red, unsure of himself and easily embarrassed, desperately searches for a place in the boisterous family.

The cousins’ eccentric parents are in tow, too, and equally lost—in love and in life. Watching over them all is Ellen, Gerry’s sweet and proper widow, who does her best to keep her composure in front of the leering small town.

Clever and completely original, If We’re Being Honest reminds you that while no one can break your heart like your family can, there’s really no one better to put you back together.

“For fans of We Are the Brennans and All Adults Here, Cat Shook’s debut novel is the witty and heartwarming story of a secret that sends shockwaves through the Williams family.” – Sarah Stiefvater, PureWow

“An appealing, astutely observed debut about familial love and the secrets we keep.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] delightful and perceptive debut… Like a stone skipped across water, Shook flits seamlessly from one character to the next, and remarkably, all emerge as three-dimensional characters. Even with its many strands of plot, the novel never feels rushed, and Shook sprinkles some wild surprises into the goings-on. Readers will find plenty to savor.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary


Juno Loves LegsJuno Loves Legs is the story of two teens labeled as delinquents. Juno and “Legs” grow up on the same housing estate in Dublin, where spirited, intelligent Juno is ostracized for her poverty and Legs is persecuted for his sexuality; they find safety only in each other.

Set against the backdrop of Dublin in the 1980s, a place of political, social and religious change, the friends yearn for an unbound life and together they begin to fight to take up the space of who they truly are. As their defiance reverberates through their lives, the children are further alienated from their surrounding society through acts of bravery and cowardice, both their own and others’. Finding themselves as outsiders, they are feared, coveted and watched, but rarely truly seen.

Told through the eyes of Juno, we see the pair begin to navigate the political and oftentimes confusing adult world with honesty and intuition. A country emerging from a dark Catholicism into the wider world of possibilities. Who is invited into modernity and gentrification and who is left behind?

Caught between the rich depth of her intellect and the harsh reality of her life, we follow Juno as she begins to understand how divergent a life lived and a life thought can be.

Juno Loves Legs shows the frustration of feeling trapped in a life that is not yours and the ability of friendship to lift us out of our experiences and into a truer version of ourselves. It is a novel that reminds us that kindness, bravery, and love appear in places where they are not always expected and in forms not usually recognised, but with a potency that cannot be ignored.

Juno Loves Legs is a gorgeous, devastating ode to the sustaining power of friendship, as well as exquisitely atmospheric portrait of a city. A great Dublin novel. A great novel, period.” – Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub

“Geary finds beauty in the most unlikely places, and in an often brutal story, with more than its fair share of small tragedies, he offers balm along the way; a reminder that humanity is everywhere, if we take the time to look, and a clear demonstration that family is less about genetics and more about love.” – Joanna Cannon, The Guardian

Juno Loves Legs is tender and heartbreaking. Young friendship takes on all the world’s challenges—love, art, family, the simple and overwhelming task of survival—with tragic, poignant results. Readers will find Juno’s bravado and Legs’s persistent sweetness unforgettable.” – Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness

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Life in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World by Gretchen Rubin

nonfiction / self-help / SCIENCE / psychology.

Life in Five SensesFor more than a decade, Gretchen Rubin had been studying happiness and human nature. Then, one day, a visit to her eye doctor made her realize that she’d been overlooking a key element of happiness: her five senses. She’d spent so much time stuck in her head that she’d allowed the vital sensations of life to slip away, unnoticed. This epiphany lifted her from a state of foggy preoccupation into a world rediscovered by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.

In this journey of self-experimentation, Rubin explores the mysteries and joys of the five senses as a path to a happier, more mindful life. Drawing on cutting-edge science, philosophy, literature, and her own efforts to practice what she learns, she investigates the profound power of tuning in to the physical world.

From the simple pleasures of appreciating the magic of ketchup and adding favorite songs to a playlist, to more adventurous efforts like creating a daily ritual of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attending Flavor University, Rubin show us how to experience each day with depth, delight, and connection. In the rush of daily life, she finds, our five senses offer us an immediate, sustainable way to cheer up, calm down, and engage the world around us—as well as a way to glimpse the soul and touch the transcendent.

Life in Five Senses is an absorbing, layered story of discovery filled with profound insights and practical suggestions about how to heighten our senses and use our powers of perception to live fuller, richer lives—and, ultimately, how to move through the world with more vitality and love.

“This inspiring book will prompt readers to open themselves to the world around them.” – Candace Smith, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“For active seekers, Rubin again provides simple insights for becoming more aware of place, self, and others.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Marigold by Andrew F. Sullivan

fiction / horror / science fiction / suspense.

The MarigoldThe Marigold, a gleaming Toronto condo tower, sits a half-empty promise: a stack of scuffed rental suites and undelivered amenities that crumbles around its residents as a mysterious sludge spreads slowly through it. Public health inspector Cathy Jin investigates this toxic mold as it infests the city’s infrastructure, rotting it from within, while Sam “Soda” Dalipagic stumbles onto a dangerous cache of data while cruising the streets in his Camry, waiting for his next rideshare alert. On the outskirts of downtown, 13-year-old Henrietta Brakes chases a friend deep underground after he’s snatched into a sinkhole by a creature from below.

All the while, construction of the city’s newest luxury tower, Marigold II, has stalled. Stanley Marigold, the struggling son of the legendary developer behind this project, decides he must tap into a hidden reserve of old power to make his dream a reality — one with a human cost.

Weaving together disparate storylines and tapping into the realms of body horror, urban dystopia, and ecofiction, The Marigold explores the precarity of community and the fragile designs that bind us together.

“Throughout this crisply written urban horror novel, Sullivan makes a chilling case for humanity’s obsolescence… This impressively bleak vision of the near future is as grotesquely amusing as it is grim.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Sullivan’s story blends body horror, urban dystopia, and eco-horror into a unique tale about the high price of progress.” – James Gardner, Library Journal

“…chock full of rich prose and vivid imagery… The Marigold is a hauntingly beautiful tale of decay told through the eyes of the city itself, experimental and bold.” – Zach Rosenberg, Horror DNA

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Minor Prophets by Blair Hurley


Minor ProphetsDeep in the remote wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Nora is growing up within a militant apocalyptic religious cult. When her father, the group’s charismatic leader, discovers his young daughter’s gift for speaking in tongues and prophesying, he employs her to recruit people in their community. But as she grows older, Nora begins to question her faith, her father and her predesignated role… and must choose between committing herself fully or being exiled into the foreign and frightening world beyond.

Five years later, Nora is working as a hospice nurse in Chicago, struggling to navigate the baffling customs of the “normal” life she is now leading. When a letter arrives, warning her to “prepare herself,” the lockbox of Nora’s childhood is thrown open, sending her hurtling back into the shattering truth of what really happened on the day of her escape.

“…captivating… harrowing…” – Emily Temple, Literary Hub

“The story is told through long sequences of flashbacks rendered in convincing biblical intonation, culminating in a major twist that reveals what happened on the day Nora defected, as well as the depth of the manipulation she endured in her childhood. Readers will have a tough time turning away from this chilling dive into fanaticism.” – Publishers Weekly

“Hurley probes the complexities of religious extremism, fraught family relationships, and the legacies of abuse in her subtle but engrossing second novel… captures the area’s harsh natural beauty in glorious prose… a deeply intimate novel, capturing what is in essence a survivor’s tale. A remarkable exploration of what it is to believe, to lose, and to start again.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner

fiction / historical fiction.

Only the BeautifulCalifornia, 1938—When she loses her parents in an accident, sixteen-year-old Rosanne is taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her whole life as the vinedresser’s daughter. She moves into Celine and Truman Calvert’s spacious house with a secret, however—Rosie sees colors when she hears sound. She promised her mother she’d never reveal her little-understood ability to anyone, but the weight of her isolation and grief prove too much for her. Driven by her loneliness she not only breaks the vow to her mother, but in a desperate moment lets down her guard and ends up pregnant. Banished by the Calverts, Rosanne believes she is bound for a home for unwed mothers, and having lost her family she treasures her pregnancy as the chance for a future one. But she soon finds out she is not going to a home of any kind, but to a place far worse than anything she could have imagined.

Austria, 1947—After witnessing firsthand Adolf Hitler’s brutal pursuit of hereditary purity—especially with regard to “different children”—Helen Calvert, Truman’s sister, is ready to return to America for good. But when she arrives at her brother’s peaceful vineyard after decades working abroad, she is shocked to learn what really happened nine years earlier to the vinedresser’s daughter, a girl whom Helen had long ago befriended. In her determination to find Rosanne, Helen discovers that while the war had been won in Europe, there are still terrifying battles to be fought at home.

“…emotionally rich… Readers will be riveted.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Meissner delivers a nuanced and heartbreaking tale; expect to read through tear-filled eyes as the story concludes.” – Tina Panik, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“…thought-provoking… Richly drawn characters and heartbreaking, historically accurate situations combine to make a powerful reading experience.” – Susan Maguire, Booklist

Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues by Jonathan Kennedy

nonfiction / history / science.

PathogenesisAccording to the accepted narrative of progress, humans have thrived thanks to their brains and brawn, collectively bending the arc of history. But in this revelatory book, Professor Jonathan Kennedy argues that the myth of human exceptionalism overstates the role that we play in social and political change. Instead, it is the humble microbe that wins wars and topples empires.

Drawing on the latest research in fields ranging from genetics and anthropology to archaeology and economics, Pathogenesis takes us through sixty thousand years of history, exploring eight major outbreaks of infectious disease that have made the modern world. Bacteria and viruses were protagonists in the demise of the Neanderthals, the growth of Islam, the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the devastation wrought by European colonialism, and the evolution of the United States from an imperial backwater to a global superpower. Even Christianity rose to prominence in the wake of a series of deadly pandemics that swept through the Roman Empire in the second and third centuries: Caring for the sick turned what was a tiny sect into one of the world’s major religions.

By placing disease at the center of his wide-ranging history of humankind, Kennedy challenges some of the most fundamental assumptions about our collective past—and urges us to view this moment as another disease-driven inflection point that will change the course of history. Provocative and brimming with insight, Pathogenesis transforms our understanding of the human story.

“It’s not often you pick up a book that promises to alter your entire understanding of the story of humanity.” – Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub

“[A] fascinating look at history from the perspective of its tiniest protagonists.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The fluency of Kennedy’s narration is remarkable, weaving Tolkien, Game of Thrones, and Monty Python into memorable and accessible explanations of genetics, evolutionary biology and demography… impressive and enjoyable… a humbling story for humankind…” – Kate Womersley, The Spectator

The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos by Jaime Green

nonfiction / science / astronomy / philosophy.

The Possibility of LifeOne of the most powerful questions humans ask about the cosmos is: Are we alone? Yet this very question is inevitably reduced to yes or no, to odds and probabilities that posit answers through complex physics. The science is fascinating, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is a reflection of our values and aspirations, our fears and anxieties, and most importantly, our enduring sense of hope.

In The Possibility of Life, acclaimed science journalist Jaime Green traces the history of our understanding, from the days of Galileo and Copernicus up through to our contemporary quest for exoplanets in the “Goldilocks zone,” where life akin to ours on Earth might exist. Along the way, she interweaves insights from a long-standing tradition of science fiction writers who use the power of imagination to extrapolate and construct worlds that in turn inspire scientists.

Weaving in expert interviews, cutting-edge astronomy research, philosophical inquiry and pop culture touchstones ranging from A Wrinkle in Time to Star Trek to AvatarThe Possibility of Life explores our evolving conception of the cosmos to ask an even deeper question: What does it mean to be human?

“[Green] brings her impressive talents to bear in this sweeping personal and philosophical account…” – Ramin Skibba, Wired

“What if there’s life out there? What would that mean for us? Ms. Green’s book, alive with the color and drama of science fiction as well as scientific fact, helps us grasp that process of imagining—its limits and its greater purpose.” – Brandy Schillace, Wall Street Journal

“An insightful examination of life—not only on Earth, but also where it might exist on the myriad of newly discovered planets and distant stars… compelling… Ingenious writing about the cosmos and life itself.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal


Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper ClubMariel Prager needs a break. Her husband Ned is having an identity crisis, her spunky, beloved restaurant is bleeding money by the day, and her mother Florence is stubbornly refusing to leave the church where she’s been holed up for more than a week. The Lakeside Supper Club has been in her family for decades, and while Mariel’s grandmother embraced the business, seeing it as a saving grace, Florence never took to it. When Mariel inherited the restaurant, skipping Florence, it created a rift between mother and daughter that never quite healed.

Ned is also an heir—to a chain of home-style diners—and while he doesn’t have a head for business, he knows his family’s chain could provide a better future than his wife’s fading restaurant. In the aftermath of a devastating tragedy, Ned and Mariel lose almost everything they hold dear, and the hard-won victories of each family hang in the balance. With their dreams dashed, can one fractured family find a way to rebuild despite their losses, and will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation?

In this colorful, vanishing world of relish trays and brandy Old Fashioneds, J. Ryan Stradal has once again given us a story full of his signature honest, lovable yet fallible Midwestern characters as they grapple with love, loss, and marriage; what we hold onto and what we leave behind; and what our legacy will be when we are gone.

“Stradal is a genius at world-building. And his is a pleasant world filled with charming folk such as those you might encounter in a Lorna Landvik novel. But there’s sadness, as well, as though the inhabitants are making do in a world that sometimes disappoints… Stradal’s novel — recognizable in all its North Country zest — satisfies.” – Christine Brunkhorst, Star Tribune

“A loving ode to supper clubs, the Midwest, and the people there who try their best to make life worth living.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] rich, well blended stew of family, loss, and resilience, perfectly seasoned with humor and wisdom… nourishing and entertaining reading.” – The Gilmore Guide to Books

“J. Ryan Stradal captures so much about small town life and families in his stories. Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club was like sitting down at The Club back in my hometown. There’s comfort and delicious food on every page.” – Terri LeBlan, Indie Next

The Secret Service of Tea and Treason by India Holton

fiction / romance / comedy / fantasy / suspense / historical fiction.

The Secret Service of Tea and TreasonKnown as Agent A, Alice is the top operative within the Agency of Undercover Note Takers, a secret government intelligence group that is fortunately better at espionage than at naming itself. From managing deceptive witches to bored aristocratic ladies, nothing is beyond Alice’s capabilities. She has a steely composure and a plan always up her sleeve (alongside a dagger and an embroidered handkerchief). So when rumors of an assassination plot begin to circulate, she’s immediately assigned to the case.

But she’s not working alone. Daniel Bixby, otherwise known as Agent B and Alice’s greatest rival, is given the most challenging undercover assignment of his life— pretending to be Alice’s husband. Together they will assume the identity of a married couple, infiltrate a pirate house party, and foil their unpatriotic plans.

Determined to remain consummate professionals, Alice and Daniel must ignore the growing attraction between them, especially since acting on it might prove more dangerous than their target.

“…raucous fun… wittily second-guesses itself and is jam-packed with flagrant innuendo.” – Diana Tixier Herald, Booklist

“Witty, deeply clever, and read-it-like-you-just-robbed-some-pirates fast. Those who have been with the books from the start (the last installment was The League of Gentlewomen Witches) will be gleeful, and those finding them now will immediately want to read back. Flying houses ahoy…” – Neal Wyatt, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“…fiendishly clever… Holton’s signature tongue-in-cheek style shines, pairing dry wit with ludicrous situations to excellent effect. Alice and Daniel’s banter is a particular highlight, and their tender connection helps to ground all the action. This may be Holton’s best yet.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Simply Lies by David Baldacci

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Simply LiesMickey Gibson, single mother and former detective, leads a hectic life similar to that of many moms: juggling the demands of her two small children with the tasks of her job working remotely for ProEye, a global investigation company that hunts down wealthy tax and credit cheats.

When Mickey gets a call from a colleague named Arlene Robinson, she thinks nothing of Arlene’s unusual request for her to go inventory the vacant home of an arms dealer who cheated ProEye’s clients and fled. That is, until she arrives at the mansion to discover a dead body in a secret room—and that nothing is as it seems.

Not only does the arms dealer not exist but the murder victim turns out to be Harry Lancaster, a man with mob ties who used to be in Witness Protection. What’s more, no one named Arlene Robinson works at ProEye.

In the blink of an eye, Gibson has become a prime suspect in a murder investigation—and now her job is also on the line until she proves that she was set up. Before long, Gibson is locked in a battle of wits with a brilliant woman with no name, a hidden past, and unknown motives—whose end game is as mysterious as it is deadly.

“Baldacci is at his best in this standalone thriller… Baldacci keeps the twists coming fast and furious in this tense page-turner, never losing credibility even as it takes bigger and bigger swings. Readers will fall in love with Mickey and hold their breath for her through to the very end.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

fiction / horror / suspense / mystery.

Sisters of the Lost NationAnna Horn is always looking over her shoulder. For the bullies who torment her, for the entitled visitors at the reservation’s casino… and for the nameless, disembodied entity that stalks her every step–an ancient tribal myth come-to-life, one that’s intent on devouring her whole.

With strange and sinister happenings occurring around the casino, Anna starts to suspect that not all the horrors on the reservation are old. As girls begin to go missing and the tribe scrambles to find answers, Anna struggles with her place on the rez, desperately searching for the key she’s sure lies in the legends of her tribe’s past.

When Anna’s own little sister also disappears, she’ll do anything to bring Grace home. But the demons plaguing the reservation–both ancient and new–are strong, and sometimes, it’s the stories that never get told that are the most important.

Part gripping thriller and part mythological horror, author Nick Medina spins an incisive and timely novel of life as an outcast, the cost of forgetting tradition, and the courage it takes to become who you were always meant to be.

“[A] gripping read.” – Theresa Coleman, Library Reads

“[A] pulse-pounding debut… Medina resolves the plot well and gracefully weaves real-life concerns about disappearing Native people into the whodunit plot. This author is off to a strong start.” – Publishers Weekly

“Medina’s debut blends mystery and Indigenous American mythologies to great effect… Though the Takoda tribe is not a real one, the author has based it on existing Indigenous nations, and the crimes against Indigenous women in the book are sadly realistic. But it’s the importance of stories, and who gets to keep and tell them, that’s at the heart of Medina’s gothic mystery.” – Jane Jorgenson, Library Journal

Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb

fiction / mystery / suspense / historical fiction.

Symphony of SecretsBern Hendricks has just received the call of a lifetime. As one of the world’s preeminent experts on the famed twentieth-century composer Frederick Delaney, Bern knows everything there is to know about the man behind the music. When Mallory Roberts, a board member of the distinguished Delaney Foundation and direct descendant of the man himself, asks for Bern’s help authenticating a newly discovered piece, which may be his famous lost opera, RED, he jumps at the chance. With the help of his tech-savvy acquaintance Eboni, Bern soon discovers that the truth is far more complicated than history would have them believe.

In 1920s Manhattan, Josephine Reed is living on the streets and frequenting jazz clubs when she meets the struggling musician Fred Delaney. But where young Delaney struggles, Josephine soars. She’s a natural prodigy who hears beautiful music in the sounds of the world around her. With Josephine as his silent partner, Delaney’s career takes off—but who is the real genius here?

In the present day, Bern and Eboni begin to uncover more clues that indicate Delaney may have had help in composing his most successful work. Armed with more questions than answers and caught in the crosshairs of a powerful organization who will stop at nothing to keep their secret hidden, Bern and Eboni will move heaven and earth in their dogged quest to right history’s wrongs.

“Brendan Slocumb enchants readers with another music-centric mystery following The Violin Conspiracy.” – Iyana Jones, PopSugar

“Engrossing and heart pounding, this one had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end… A must read!” – Kami Tei, Amazon

“…thought-provoking… This exploration of the ways race, power, and modern music intersect lands as a timely page-turner.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] page-turning thriller… The dialogue in the novel, particularly between Bern and Eboni, sparkles, and the author does a brilliant job building suspense… This is a superb novel that will appeal to any thriller fan, not just readers with an ear for classical music. Sophomore novels don’t get much better than this.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Tin to Table: Fancy, Snacky Recipes for Tin-thusiasts and A-fish-ionados by Anna Hezel

nonfiction / cooking.

Tin to TableFrom the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean to the salmon smokehouses of Alaska and the deep blue coves of Spain and beyond, tinned seafood offers a world’s worth of flavorful meal inspiration. Sail through the pages of this rich, briny guide to discover how to bring more tasty tinned seafood into your life and onto your plate. Just as carefree and delicious as the contents of the tins themselves, the recipes in Tin to Table offer an ocean of knowledge and cooking inspiration, whether you’re enjoying these preserved delicacies straight out of the can or using them as a base for fancy dinner party fare, including:

Triple Pickle Smoked Salmon Butter Sandwich
Canned Clam Garlic Bread
Sardine Curry Puffs
Caesar Popcorn (Negronis optional!)
Tuna Noodle Casserole 2.0 with Salt and Vinegar Crumbs
Vermouth Hour Potato Chips with Mussels, Olives, and Piparras
Mac and Mack(erel)

Anna Hezel uses her keen food wisdom to help you discover tasty meal inspiration and navigate you through the world of tinned seafood with handy field guides, smart pairing suggestions, and shopping resources, so you can live that breezy, tinned-fish life anywhere or anytime.

“‘There’s never been a more exciting or auspicious time to eat tinned seafood,’ asserts Epicurious editor Hezel in this fun outing… Whether readers are looking to jazz up some standbys or want to add more seafood to their diet, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found here.” – Publishers Weekly

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The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann

nonfiction / history / true crime / mystery.

The WagerOn January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While the Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as “the prize of all the oceans,” it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing nearly 3,000 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes.

But then… six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they told a very different story. The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes – they were mutineers. The first group responded with countercharges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous senior officer and his henchmen. It became clear that while stranded on the island the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine who was telling the truth. The stakes were life-and-death–for whomever the court found guilty could hang.

The Wager is a grand tale of human behavior at the extremes told by one of our greatest nonfiction writers. Grann’s recreation of the hidden world on a British warship rivals the work of Patrick O’Brian, his portrayal of the castaways’ desperate straits stands up to the classics of survival writing such as The Endurance, and his account of the court martial has the savvy of a Scott Turow thriller. As always with Grann’s work, the incredible twists of the narrative hold the reader spellbound.

“The personalities aboard this 18th century ship are made for the history books, as the saying goes, and Grann, once again, has written an epic narrative that is both shocking and utterly absorbing.” – Al Woodworth, Amazon

“[The] most gripping true-life sea yarn I’ve read in years… A tour de force of narrative nonfiction… The Wager is likely to cast a powerful spell on modern readers…” – Julia Flynn Siler, Wall Street Journal

“Grann vividly narrates a nearly forgotten incident with an eye for each character’s personal stakes while also reminding readers of the imperialist context prompting the misadventure.” – Brendan Driscoll, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Drawing on a trove of firsthand accounts—logbooks, correspondence, diaries, court-martial testimony, and Admiralty and government records—Grann mounts a chilling, vibrant narrative of a grim maritime tragedy and its dramatic aftermath… Recounting the tumultuous events in tense detail, Grann sets the Wager episode in the context of European imperialism as much as the wrath of the sea. A brisk, absorbing history and a no-brainer for fans of the author’s suspenseful historical thrillers.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

The Weeds by Katy Simpson Smith

fiction / historical fiction.

The WeedsA Mississippi woman pushes through the ruin of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. She has escaped her life, apprenticed herself to catalog all the species growing in this place. Crawling along the stones, she wonders how she has landed here, a reluctant botanist amid a snarl of tourists in comfortable sandals. She hunts for a scientific agenda and a direction of her own.

In 1855, a woman pushes through the jungle of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. As punishment for her misbehavior, she has been indentured to the English botanist Richard Deakin, for whom she will compile a flora. She is a thief, and she must find new ways to use her hands. If only the woman she loves weren’t on a boat, with a husband. But love isn’t always possible. She logs 420 species.

Through a list of seemingly minor plants and their uses—medical, agricultural, culinary—these women calculate intangible threats: a changing climate, the cost of knowledge, and the ways repeated violence can upend women’s lives. They must forge their own small acts of defiance and slip through whatever cracks they find. How can anyone survive?

Lush, intoxicating, and teeming with mischief, Katy Simpson Smith’s The Weeds is a tense, mesmerizing page-turner about science and survival, the roles women are given and have taken from them, and the lives they make for themselves.

“A lyrical meditation on power, need, and love.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Garden lovers will delight in this roving, fascinating novel that follows a Mississippi woman who discovers the unexpectedly rich plant world of the Roman Colosseum. Wanderlust: induced!” – CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun

“Marvelous… shows a real power of storytelling… A wonderful book… [It’s] bound to find a place in your memory whenever you see a clump of rosemary.” – Konstantin Rega, Virginia Living

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The Wishing Pool and Other Stories by Tanarive Due

fiction / horror / fantasy / science fiction.

The Wishing Pool and Other StoriesAmerican Book Award–winning author Tananarive Due’s second collection of stories includes offerings of horror, science fiction, and suspense—all genres she wields masterfully. From the mysterious, magical town of Gracetown to the aftermath of a pandemic to the reaches of the far future, Due’s stories all share a sense of dread and fear balanced with heart and hope.

In some of these stories, the monster is racism itself; others address the monster within, each set against the supernatural or surreal. All are written with Due’s trademark attention to detail and deeply drawn characters.

In addition to previously published work, this collection contains brand-new stories, including “Rumpus Room,” a supernatural horror novelette set in Florida about a woman’s struggle against both outer and inner demons.

“The title tract in Wishing Pool, meanwhile, is a pitch-perfect, careful-what-you-wish-for tale that leaves readers pondering memory, identity and the meaning of happiness.” – Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia Inquirer

“These 14 stories from author and film historian Due might scare even the most dauntless horror fans to death… intellectually keen and psychologically bloodcurdling… [Her] command of the Black horror aesthetic rivals Jordan Peele’s in originality and sheer bravado… A patchwork of stories that somehow manages to be both graceful and alarming, putting fresh eyes to the unspeakable.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“In these 14 powerhouse stories, Due probes history, the grim present moment, and not so far-flung futures, delivering an expansive collection that still hits close to home… There are no false notes; every piece is a study in tension, showcasing Due’s mastery at balancing action, suspense, and emotion. Centering Black characters and often Black experiences, this is a standout in both Black horror and the genre more broadly.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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