Best New Books: Week of 6/27/23

“I don’t know how [books] accumulate like that. They’re part rabbit, I think.” – Beatriz Williams, Overseas

American Whitelash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress by Wesley Lowery

nonfiction / politics / history.

American WhitelashIn 2008, Barack Obama’s historic victory was heralded as a turning point for the country. And so it would be—just not in the way that most Americans hoped. The election of the nation’s first Black president fanned long-burning embers of white supremacy, igniting a new and frightening phase in a historical American cycle of racial progress and white backlash.

In American Whitelash, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author Wesley Lowery charts the return of this blood-stained trend, showing how the forces of white power retaliated against Obama’s victory—and both profited from, and helped to propel, the rise of Donald Trump. Interweaving deep historical analysis with gripping firsthand reporting on both victims and perpetrators of violence, Lowery uncovers how this vicious cycle is carrying us into ever more perilous territory, how the federal government has failed to intervene, and how we still might find a route of escape.

American Whitelash offers a livid account of the hydra-like capacity of white-supremacist ideas not just to survive but to flourish… infuriating… A good primer on the unhealthy state of the nation as we enter election season.” – Charles Arrowsmith, Washington Post

“[A] timely investigation into the historic roots of violent White resistance to non-White Americans… a potent consideration of the past 15 years within the context of American history… compassionate and often heartbreaking… A masterful blend of narrative history and empathetic reporting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Lowery’s galvanizing new book charts the cycle of racial progress and white backlash that has repeatedly played out through U.S. history… Combining historical research with critical yet empathetic firsthand reporting, the best-selling author of They Can’t Kill Us All delivers a searing examination of the movement.” – Time

The Apartment by Ana Menéndez


The ApartmentAn art-deco sentinel, The Helena apartment building has silently witnessed the changing face of South Miami Beach for seventy years, observing—without interfering—the countless lives housed within its walls. But a single unit has seen more life (and sometimes death) than others. Those who have called Apartment 2B home include: a Cuban concert pianist who now only plays in a nursing home; the widow of an intelligence officer raising their young daughter alone; a man waiting on a green card marriage to run its course so that he can divorce his wife and marry his lover, all of whom live together in 2B; a Tajik building manager with a secret identity; a Vietnam vet receiving packages from his ex-wife. Each tenant imbues 2B with energy that can either heal or overwhelm the latest resident, Lana.

A mysterious woman struggling with her own demons, Lana mourns her beloved while unaware of the apartment’s sometimes tragic history. Distraught and alone, she is watched over by a ghost, and together these two strangers brought into community by The Helena will find a measure of comfort and purpose, gaining a new insight into what we all owe one another.

“…haunting… The novel explores many facets of loneliness and isolation and the feeling of being othered and far from home, and it illustrates the often life-saving importance of community.” – Allison Escoto, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Spanning decades, this fresh novel tells the stories of the different residents of one apartment in The Helena building in South Miami Beach. Full of stories, longing, isolation and connection, it starkly mirrors a broader reality.” – Karla Strand, Ms.

“Menéndez finds a perfect setting for her ambitious crossroads-of-humanity story: an apartment building in South Miami Beach, an old deco structure from a seemingly bygone era, hanging on and packed full of human striving, conflict, and desperation… the novel really finds itself in the rich, textured, sometimes intersecting stories of all those people who have put themselves into close quarters and found, not exactly a community, but a shared ground for longing and remembrance.” – Dwyer Murphy, Literary Hub

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The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon

fiction / science fiction / fantasy.


When the robotic god of Khuon Mo went mad, it destroyed everything it touched. It killed its priests, its city, and all its wondrous works. But in its final death throes, the god brought one thing back to its favorite child, Sunai. For the seventeen years since, Sunai has walked the land like a ghost, unable to die, unable to age, and unable to forget the horrors he’s seen. He’s run as far as he can from the wreckage of his faith, drowning himself in drink, drugs, and men. But when Sunai wakes up in the bed of the one man he never should have slept with, he finds himself on a path straight back into the world of gods and machines.

The Archive Undying is the first volume of Emma Mieko Candon’s Downworld Sequence, a sci-fi series where AI deities and brutal police states clash, wielding giant robots steered by pilot-priests with corrupted bodies.

Come get in the robot.

“…in our age of AI discourse and terrifying robot dogs, it’s exciting to see a writer exploring these concepts in a way that’s fresh and nuanced.” – Ilana Masad, NPR

“…fascinating… Candon’s fresh, vivid worldbuilding skillfully blends anime staples like giant robots and cigarette-smoking aunties with edgy SFF tropes like dying gods and legendary hybrid beasts.” – Publishers Weekly

“Candon delivers original worldbuilding with rich, sensory detail and description. A creative use of perspective keeps readers on their toes with successive twists that recontextualize the slowly unfurling story. AI divinities and war machines provide the perfect setting for the characters to grapple with physical and mental upheaval and find strength in each other. The action-packed finale mixes mech battles with equally dramatic personal revelations. Will appeal to readers who like their giant robots paired with explorations of emotional intimacy and moving forward after trauma.” – Erin Niederberger, Library Journal

The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel

nonfiction / biography / history / true crime / art.

The Art ThiefFor centuries, works of art have been stolen in countless ways from all over the world, but no one has been quite as successful at it as the master thief Stéphane Breitwieser. Carrying out more than two hundred heists over nearly ten years–in museums and cathedrals all over Europe–Breitwieser, along with his girlfriend who worked as his lookout, stole more than three hundred objects, until it all fell apart in spectacular fashion.

In The Art Thief, Michael Finkel brings us into Breitwieser’s strange and fascinating world. Unlike most thieves, he never stole for money, keeping all his treasures in a single room where he could admire them to his heart’s content. Possessed of a remarkable athleticism and an innate ability to assess practically any security system, Breitwieser managed to pull off a breathtakingly number of audacious thefts. Yet these strange talents bred a growing disregard for risk and an addict’s need to score, leading Breitwieser to ignore his girlfriend’s pleas to stop–until one final act of hubris brought everything crashing down.

“[A] masterful true crime account… fascinating… The account is at its best when it revels in the audacity of the escapades, including feats of misdirection in broad daylight, and the slow, inexorable pace of the law. It’s a riveting ride.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“It is romantic to liken art thieves to Pierce Brosnan’s glamorous character in The Thomas Crown Affair. The reality is far less charming. Case in point: Stéphane Breitwieser, one of the most successful art thieves of all time. From roughly 1994 to 2001, Breitwieser executed more than 200 heists. The book’s first lesson? Europe has a lot of understaffed historic buildings. The second? Even a kleptomaniac with delusions of grandeur can be made mildly sympathetic in the hands of a skilled writer.” – James Tarmy, Bloomberg

“Meticulously detailed, [a] page-turning account… As much a crime caper as a psychological thriller, Finkel’s narrative interweaves gripping descriptions of Breitweiser’s in-plain-sight thefts armed with nothing more than stealth and a Swiss Army knife, a concise history of global art theft, and psychologists’ musings on Breitwieser’s unconscious motivations… Finkel deftly keeps us swaying between great sympathy for his central character and profound suspicion.” – Jenny McPhee, Air Mail

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

fiction / historical fiction.

Banyan MoonWhen Ann Tran gets the call that her fiercely beloved grandmother, Minh, has passed away, her life is already at a crossroads. In the years since she’s last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life—a beautiful lake house, a charming professor boyfriend, and invites to elegant parties that bubble over with champagne and good taste—but it all crumbles with one positive pregnancy test. With both her relationship and carefully planned future now in question, Ann returns home to Florida to face her estranged mother, Huơng.

Back in Florida, Huơng is simultaneously mourning her mother and resenting her for having the relationship with Ann that she never did. Then Ann and Huơng learn that Minh has left them both the Banyan House, the crumbling old manor that was Ann’s childhood home, in all its strange, Gothic glory. Under the same roof for the first time in years, mother and daughter must face the simmering questions of their past and their uncertain futures, while trying to rebuild their relationship without the one person who’s always held them together.

Running parallel to this is Minh’s story, as she goes from a lovestruck teenager living in the shadow of the Vietnam War to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. And when Ann makes a shocking discovery in the Banyan House’s attic, long-buried secrets come to light as it becomes clear how decisions Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her life—and beyond.

Spanning decades and continents, from 1960s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, Banyan Moon is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of that inheritance.

“The complex dynamic between the women in Thao Thai’s Banyan Moon—grandmother, mother, and daughter— is so realistic, you’d swear the novel was a memoir.” – Real Simple

“There’s no shortage of multigenerational family narratives out there, and this one really stands out from the pack.” – Publishers Weekly

“A riveting mother-daughter tale spanning two different timelines, and anchored by the magnetic pull of a Gothic home known as the Banyan House, Banyan Moon is author Thao Thai’s beautiful debut.” – Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle

“Readers who savor many unexpected twists and a surprising conclusion will be rewarded.” – Susan G. Baird, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams

fiction / historical fiction / mystery.

The Beach at SummerlyJune 1946. As the residents of Winthrop Island prepare for the first summer season after the sacrifice of war, a glamorous new figure moves into the guest cottage at Summerly, the idyllic seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family. To Emilia Winthrop, daughter of Summerly’s year-round caretaker and a descendant of the island’s settlers, Olive Rainsford opens a window into a world of shining possibility. While Emilia spent the war years caring for her incapacitated mother, Olive traveled the world, married fascinating men, and involved herself in political causes. She’s also the beloved aunt of the two surviving Peabody sons, Amory and Shep, with whom Emilia has a tangled romantic history.

As the summer wears on, Emilia develops a deep rapport with Olive, who urges her to leave the island for a life of adventure, while romance blossoms with the sturdy and honorable Shep. But the heady promise of Peabody patronage is blown apart by the arrival of Sumner Fox, an FBI agent who demands Emilia’s help to capture a Soviet agent who’s transmitting vital intelligence on the West’s atomic weapon program from somewhere inside the Summerly estate.

April 1954. Eight years later, Summerly is boarded up and Emilia has rebuilt her shattered life as a professor at Wellesley College, when shocking news arrives from Washington—the traitor she helped convict is about to be swapped for an American spy imprisoned in the Soviet Union, but with a mysterious condition only Emilia can fulfill. A reluctant Emilia is summoned to CIA headquarters, where she’s forced to confront the harrowing consequences of her actions that fateful summer, and a choice that could destroy the Peabody family—and Emilia’s chance for redemption—all over again.

“This page-turner has depth of feeling and intriguing historical details that will sweep readers off their feet.” – Stacey Hayman, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[An] exciting story of summer love and espionage… Williams complements her complex narrative with a keen perspective on the island’s class strata. Readers will be hooked from the first page.” – Publishers Weekly

“…the author’s deft exploration of many thought-provoking issues, from social class to personal responsibility and regret, make this one a winner. A well-researched exploration of love and redemption against the backdrop of post–World War II New England.” – Kirkus Reviews

Charlotte Illes Is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel

fiction / mystery.

Charlotte Illes Is Not a DetectiveThe downside of being a famous child detective is that sooner or later, you have to grow up…

As a kid, Charlotte Illes’ uncanny sleuthing abilities made her a minor celebrity. But in high school, she hung up her detective’s hat and stashed away the signature blue landline in her “office”—aka garage—convinced that finding her adult purpose would be as easy as tracking down missing pudding cups or locating stolen diamonds.

Now twenty-five, Charlotte has a nagging fear that she hit her peak in middle school. She’s living with her mom, scrolling through job listings, and her love life consists mostly of first dates. When it comes to knowing what to do next, Charlotte hasn’t got a clue.

And then, her old blue phone rings…

Reluctantly, Charlotte is pulled back into the mystery-solving world she knew—just one more time. But that world is a whole lot more complicated for an adult. As a kid, she was able to crack the case and still get her homework done on time. Now she’s dealing with dead bodies, missing persons, and villains who actually see her as a viable threat. And the detective skills she was once so eager to never use again are the only things that can stop a killer ready to make sure her next retirement is permanent…

“[A] rollicking debut… Charlotte is a delight.” – Sarah Weinman, New York Times

“The reader is happy to follow where Charlotte leads…. A solid mystery is served up, and Charlotte finds herself polishing old skills, not ready to not be a detective, after all.” – Marissa Moss, New York Journal of Books

“…charming… terrific fun… Not since Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files has there been such a delightful literary marriage of endearingly quirky characters and deliciously dry wit. Fans of Francine Prose’s The Maid or Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mysteries will equally embrace the arrival of Charlotte and her cohorts on the detecting scene.” – John Charles, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

fiction / horror / mystery.

Dead ElevenClifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: this place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: they wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: close your curtains at night.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother Harper comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth–that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined–he is determined to blow the whole thing open.

If he can get out alive…

“An ominously slow burn set on a creepy fictional island that appears stuck in the past… Keep the lights on for this one.” – People

“[A] creepy, fast-paced blast from the past… Juliano comes as a new voice in horror, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Grady Hendrix, and Paul Tremblay.” – Verónica N. Rodríguez, Booklist

“The less readers know before diving into Juliano’s breathtaking debut thriller, the better… Juliano draws memorable characters and places them in an indelible setting, using artful prose and judicious dashes of dark humor to leave a major impression. It’s a scary-good debut.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The First Ladies by Marie Benedict Victoria Christopher Murray

fiction / historical fiction.

The First LadiesThe daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune refuses to back down as white supremacists attempt to thwart her work. She marches on as an activist and an educator, and as her reputation grows she becomes a celebrity, revered by titans of business and recognized by U.S. Presidents. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is awestruck and eager to make her acquaintance. Initially drawn together because of their shared belief in women’s rights and the power of education, Mary and Eleanor become fast friends confiding their secrets, hopes and dreams—and holding each other’s hands through tragedy and triumph.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, the two women begin to collaborate more closely, particularly as Eleanor moves toward her own agenda separate from FDR, a consequence of the devastating discovery of her husband’s secret love affair. Eleanor becomes a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights. And when she receives threats because of her strong ties to Mary, it only fuels the women’s desire to fight together for justice and equality.

This is the story of two different, yet equally formidable, passionate, and committed women, and the way in which their singular friendship helped form the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.

“…dazzling… This is a potent tale of two crusading women’s accomplishments.” – Publishers Weekly

“Those who enjoy stirring historical fiction, as well as fans of The Personal Librarian, will find Benedict and Murray’s latest collaboration compelling.” – Pam O’Sullivan, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“While the depictions of the women’s activism are inspiring, the novel really shines in the behind-the-scenes moments when the women support each other during personal struggles with marital infidelity, illness, and loss. This impeccably researched, relevant novel is a must-read and destined to be a book club favorite.” – Lindsay Harmon, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Ghost Theatre by Mat Osman

fiction / historical fiction / fantasy.

The Ghost TheatreLondon, 1601—a golden city soon to erupt in flames. Shay is a messenger-girl, falconer, and fortune teller who sees the future in the patterns of birds. Nonesuch is the dark star of the city’s fabled Blackfriars Theatre, where a cast of press-ganged boys perform for London’s gentry. When the pair meet, Shay falls in love with the performances—and with Nonesuch himself. As their bond deepens, they create the Ghost Theatre, an underground troupe that performs fantastical plays in the city’s hidden corners. As their fame grows the troupe fans the flames of rebellion among the city’s outcasts, and the lovers are drawn into the dark web of the Elizabethan court. Embattled, with the plague on the rise throughout the country, the Queen seeks a reading from Shay, a moment which unleashes chaos not only in Shay’s life, but across the whole of England too.

A fever-dream full of prophecy and anarchy, gutter rats and bird gods, Mat Osman’s The Ghost Theatre is a wild ride from the rooftops of Elizabethan London to its dark underbelly, and a luminous meditation on double lives and fluid identities and the bewitching, transformative nature of art and power, with a bittersweet love affair at its heart. Set amid the vividly rendered England of Osman’s imagination and written in rich, seductive prose, The Ghost Theatre will have readers under its spell from the very first page.

“Hauntingly beautiful… thrilling and thought-provoking, Osman’s unique creation will leave readers pondering its mysteries long after the final page.” – Prudence Wade, The Independent

“Superb… The Ghost Theatre finds its way into the hidden corners of Elizabethan London, telling the story of a group of misfit actors. Beautifully written and completely convincing.” – Observer

“Combining breathtaking world-building with vivid characterization… An imaginative tour-de-force of theatre, magic, love, and betrayal.” – The Bookseller

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The Imposters by Tom Rachman


The ImpostersDora Frenhofer, a once successful but now aging and embittered novelist, knows her mind is going. She is determined, however, to finish her final book, and reverse her fortunes, before time runs out. Alone in her London home during the pandemic, she creates, and is in turn created by, the fascinating real characters from her own life.

Like a twenty-first-century Scheherazade, Dora spins stories to ward off her end. From New Delhi to New York, Copenhagen to Los Angeles, Australia to Syria to Paris, Dora’s chapters trot the globe, inhabiting the perspectives of her missing brother, her estranged daughter, her erstwhile lover, and her last remaining friend, among others in her orbit. As her own life comes into ever sharper focus, so do the signal events that have made her who she is, leaving us in Dora’s thrall until, with an unforeseen twist, she snaps the final piece of the puzzle into place.

The Imposters is Tom Rachman at his inimitable best. With his trademark style—at once “deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate” (Washington Post)—he has delivered a novel whose formal ingenuity and flamboyant technique are matched only by its humanity and generosity.

“Tom Rachman’s bustling, globe-trotting new novel manages to be about a writer’s life ending, quietly, lonesomely–even as it bursts with characters, plots, humor and drama… Rachman, a former A.P. foreign-news editor, has a far-and-wide imagination, and his novel is ingenious: investing a protagonist at the twilight of her life with grand, restless vision.” – Taylor Antrim, Vogue

“Despite its existential sadness and profundity, The Imposters is entrancing, light, witty, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Rachman’s prose is graceful, lucid, and seemingly effortless. His narrative, set amid the surreal social distortions of the coronavirus pandemic, is gripping and original… The Imposters takes the trends, pleasures, and anxieties of the epoch from which it springs and weaves them into a story that compels the engagement of sensitive and intelligent readers.” – Hugo Gurdon, Washington Examiner

“Rachman’s nuanced exploration of creativity’s staying power, a writer’s inherent desire for relevance, and the marketplace’s malleable definition of success unfolds with refined subtlety through interconnected tales. The characters arguably each deserve a novel of their own, yet it is Dora’s story Rachman focuses on with admiration and just a hint of awe.” – Carol Haggas, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Lay Your Body Down by Amy Suiter Clarke

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Lay Your Body DownAfter Del Walker fled her small hometown and its cult-like church, she vowed to never return. The man she loved, Lars, left her to marry the local golden girl Eve, and their romance is now the focus of Eve’s viral blog espousing the pastor’s conservative philosophy about women and marriage. But six years later, Lars is suddenly killed, and she’s convinced it couldn’t have been an accident.

When Del returns to her hometown for the funeral, she discovers the now mega-church—and the insidious, patriarchal teachings of Pastor Rick Franklin—has grown not only in size but in influence. Eve was clearly discontent in her marriage, despite the carefully constructed “Noble Wife” positivity of her blog posts, and Del knows better than anyone just how far she will go to get what she wants. Del is determined to cut through the church’s lies and corruption to find out who killed Lars—even if it means confronting the religious trauma she’s spent years trying to bury.

“[An] enthralling psychological thriller… [a] salacious mix of small-town cults and amateur sleuthing…” – Publishers Weekly

Lay Your Body Down excels in big reveals and tiny twists and turns from the beginning. They are slid into the plot effortlessly, fitting the story and utterly gripping.” – Susan Crosby, Novel Lives

“Using excerpts from Del’s old diaries and from unpublished entries in Eve’s blog, Suiter Clarke paints a devastating portrait of a cultlike institution and a town in its thrall. It’s even worse than we imagined.” – Sarah Lyall, New York Times

Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur


Little MonstersKen and Abby Gardner lost their mother when they were small and they have been haunted by her absence ever since. Their father, Adam, a brilliant oceanographer, raised them mostly on his own in his remote home on Cape Cod, where the attachment between Ken and Abby deepened into something complicated—and as adults their relationship is strained. Now, years later, the siblings’ lives are still deeply entwined. Ken is a successful businessman with political ambitions and a picture-perfect family and Abby is a talented visual artist who depends on her brother’s goodwill, in part because he owns the studio where she lives and works.

As the novel opens, Adam is approaching his seventieth birthday, staring down his mortality and fading relevance. He has always managed his bipolar disorder with medication, but he’s determined to make one last scientific breakthrough and so he has secretly stopped taking his pills, which he knows will infuriate his children. Meanwhile, Abby and Ken are both harboring secrets of their own, and there is a new person on the periphery of the family—Steph, who doesn’t make her connection known. As Adam grows more attuned to the frequencies of the deep sea and less so to the people around him, Ken and Abby each plan the elaborate gifts they will present to their father on his birthday, jostling for primacy in this small family unit.

Set in the fraught summer of 2016, and drawing on the biblical tale of Cain and Abel, Little Monsters is an absorbing, sharply observed family story by a writer who knows Cape Cod inside and out—its Edenic lushness and its snakes.

“[A] compelling, earnest portrait of a family more fractured than its members realize… beautiful and heart-breaking.” – Lauren Puckett-Pope, Shelf Awareness

“Adrienne Brodeur knows her way around a family drama… Brodeur weaves a story dense with stinging secrets and simmering resentments, rooted in another context that she knows well: the manicured towns and wild fringes of Cape Cod… Set against the island’s rippling dune grasses and scrub pines, [the] narrative is as elegantly rendered as it is compulsively readable.” – Vogue

“Sound character development and a keen sense of place add to Brodeur’s astute portrayal of the turbulence between the siblings and their spouses, and the prose renders Adam’s magical thinking with precision. With this intricate story, Brodeur distinguishes herself as a novelist of the first rank.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales

fiction / mystery / historical fiction / romance.

A Most Agreeable MurderFeisty, passionate Beatrice Steele has never fit the definition of a true lady, according to the strict code of conduct that reigns in Swampshire, her small English township–she is terrible at needlework, has absolutely no musical ability, and her artwork is so bad it frightens people. Nevertheless, she lives a perfectly agreeable life with her marriage-scheming mother, prankster father, and two younger sisters– beautiful Louisa and forgettable Mary. But she harbors a dark secret: She is obsessed with the true crime cases she reads about in the newspaper. If anyone in her etiquette-obsessed community found out, she’d be deemed a morbid creep and banished from respectable society forever.

For her family’s sake, she’s vowed to put her obsession behind her. Because eligible bachelor Edmund Croaksworth is set to attend the approaching autumnal ball, and the Steele family hopes that Louisa will steal his heart. If not, Martin Grub, their disgusting cousin, will inherit the family’s estate, and they will be ruined or, even worse, forced to move to France. So Beatrice must be on her best behavior… which is made difficult when a disgraced yet alluring detective inexplicably shows up to the ball.

Beatrice is just holding things together when Croaksworth drops dead in the middle of a minuet. As a storm rages outside, the evening descends into a frenzy of panic, fear, and betrayal as it becomes clear they are trapped with a killer. Contending with competitive card games, tricky tonics, and Swampshire’s infamous squelch holes, Beatrice must rise above decorum and decency to pursue justice and her own desires–before anyone else is murdered.

“…exceptional… The intricate plot races along at a sprightly pace, and Seales delights with her sharp humor and accomplished sense of narrative control. Jane Austen fans will be enthralled.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The book is an entertaining and witty tale that combines elements of Jane Austen’s world with the intrigue of an Agatha Christie mystery… readers can expect a delightful blend of comedy, suspense, and the pursuit of justice… [Seales] leads readers on a thrilling adventure filled with twists and turns that will keep them guessing until the very end.” – Soham Singh, GoBookMart

“[A] deliciously dark delve into a world that seems genteel on the surface and teems with sex and violence and greed just underneath—not so unlike Austen’s but with a morbid, rather than domestic, bent. Irreverent, satirical, and oh so much fun!” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Save What’s Left by Elizabeth Castellano 

fiction / comedy / romance.

Save What's LeftWhen Kathleen Deane’s husband, Tom, tells her he’s no longer happy with his life and their marriage, Kathleen is confused. They live in Kansas. They’ve been married thirty years. Who said anything about being happy? But with Tom off finding himself, Kathleen starts to think about what she wants. And her thoughts lead her to a small beach community on the east coast, a town called Whitbey that has always looked lovely in the Christmas letters her childhood friend Josie sends every year.

It turns out, though, that life in Whitbey is nothing like Josie’s letters. Kathleen’s new neighbor, Rosemary, is cantankerous, and the town’s supervisor won’t return Kathleen’s emails, but worst of all is the Sugar Cube, the monstrosity masquerading as a holiday home that Kathleen’s absentee neighbors are building next door to her quaint (read: tiny) cottage. As Kathleen gets more and more involved in the fight against the Sugar Cube and town politics overall, she realizes that Whitbey may not be a fairytale, but it just might be exactly what she needed.

Save What’s Left can best be described as the “un-beach read.” It pulls back the curtain on life in a beach town, revealing the true cost of a pretty view. Told from the candid and irreverent perspective of a newcomer turned local, this is a story of forgiveness, fortitude, and second chances.

“Castellano turns the beach-read genre on its head in her clever debut… This witty send-up is a winner.” – Publishers Weekly

“Irreverent and unexpectedly tender, this story takes neighborhood feuding to new heights and finds beauty and reinvention in unlikely places. A wickedly funny debut.” – Oprah Daily

“You’ll laugh out loud as [Kathleen] goes to war against the development (and her neighbors), and cheer her on as she figures out just what she needs.” – theSkimm

“Castellano’s wickedly funny debut unfurls in miserable yet gleeful detail the soul-sucking nightmare of owning a house on the Long Island oceanfront… Clearly, the key requirement for successful beach house ownership is a (possibly illegal) sense of humor. Bring it on!” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade

fiction / young adult / mystery / suspense / horror.

The Shadow SisterSutton going missing is the worst thing to happen to Casey, to their family. She’s trying to help find her sister, but Casey is furious. And she can’t tell anyone about their argument before Sutton disappeared. Everyone paints a picture of Sutton’s perfection: the popular cheerleader with an entourage of friends, a doting boyfriend, and a limitless future. But Sutton manipulated everyone around her, even stole an heirloom bracelet from Casey. People don’t look for missing Black girls–or half-Black girls–without believing there is an angel to be saved.

When Sutton reappears, Casey knows she should be relieved. Except Sutton isn’t the same. She remembers nothing about while she was gone—or anything from her old life, including how she made Casey miserable. There’s something unsettling about the way she wants to spend time with Casey, the way she hums and watches her goldfish swim for hours.

What happened to Sutton? The more Casey starts uncovering her sister’s secrets, the more questions she has. Did she really know her sister? Why is no one talking about the other girls who have gone missing in their area? And what will it take to uncover the truth?

“Unsettling to an excellent, haunting effect, The Shadow Sister makes the most of tone and atmosphere with prose that seems straightforward at first glance but buzzes with tension… keeps readers guessing… stunning…” – Abby Hargreaves, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Debut author Meade offers an intriguing, emotionally resonant novel wrapped in supernatural realism… A gripping portrait of fractured sisterhood, reverberating traumas, and the triumphs of omniscient ancestors.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…pulse-pounding… Through their developing perspectives, Meade unveils the past between two feuding sisters and how the social politics within their community affected their relationship, weaving a speculative mystery and an ode to sisterhood that confronts systemic injustice alongside issues of colorism and individual and communal identity.” – Publishers Weekly

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White House by the Sea: A Century of the Kennedys at Hyannis Port by Kate Storey

nonfiction / history / biography.

White House by the SeaHyannis Port, Massachusetts, is synonymous with the Kennedy family. It is where, for a hundred years, America’s most storied political family has come to celebrate, bond, play, and, also, grieve. It is also the setting of so many events we remember: JFK giving his presidential acceptance speech, Jackie speaking with a Life magazine reporter just days after her husband’s assassination, Senator Edward Kennedy seeking refuge after the Chappaquiddick crash, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger tying the knot—and even Conor Kennedy courting pop star Taylor Swift. Anyone who has lived in, worked at, or visited the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port has had a front-row view to history. Now, with extraordinary access to the Kennedy family—and featuring more than fifty rarely-seen images—journalist Kate Storey gives us a remarkably intimate and poignant look at the rhythms of an American dynasty.

Drawing from more than a hundred conversations with family members, friends, neighbors, household and security staff, Storey delivers a rich and textured account of the Kennedys’ lives in their summer refuge. From the 1920s, when Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy rented then bought a home known as The Malcolm Cottage, to today, when many Kennedys have purchased their own homes surrounding what’s now called The Big House, this book delivers many surprising revelations across the decades, including what matriarch Rose considered the family’s greatest tragedy, the rivalrous relationship between brothers Jack and Joe, details about Jackie’s life at the compound, and previously unknown glimpses into JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s loving and ill-fated relationship.

Fascinating, engaging, and illuminating, White House by the Sea provides a sweeping history of an American dynasty that has left an indelible mark on our nation’s politics and culture.

“Full of vivid profiles and intriguing asides about the history of Cape Cod, this is a compassionate portrait of America’s most famous political dynasty” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] novel approach to a well-charted course… Appropriately enough, the book makes for great beach reading, as breezy as the summer air off Nantucket Sound. A light yet thoroughly researched book that will appeal to followers of the Kennedy family and celebrity culture.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With no sensationalizing or hypothesizing, Storey’s reporting is engaging and factual, capturing personal nuances and relaying intimate anecdotes that often stand in contrast to predominant, media-created perceptions… Readers will come away with new insights and due appreciation for this uniquely American dynasty.” – Kathleen McBroom, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW


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