Best New Books: Week of 7/11/23

“When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.” – Katherine Center, How to Walk Away

All-Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky  


All-Night PharmacyOn the night of her high school graduation, a young woman follows her older sister Debbie to Salvation, a Los Angeles bar patronized by energy healers, aspiring actors, and all-around misfits. After the two share a bag of unidentified pills, the evening turns into a haze of sensual and risky interactions—nothing unusual for two sisters bound in an incredibly toxic relationship. Our unnamed narrator has always been under the spell of the alluring and rebellious Debbie and, despite her own hesitations, she has always said yes to nights like these. That is, until Debbie disappears.

Falling deeper into the life she cultivated with her sister, our narrator gets a job as an emergency room secretary where she steals pills to sell on the side. Cue Sasha, a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union who arrives at the hospital claiming to be a psychic tasked with acting as the narrator’s spiritual guide. The nature of this relationship evolves and blurs, a kaleidoscope of friendship, sex, mysticism, and ambiguous power dynamics.

With prose pulsing like a neon sign, Ruth Madievsky’s All-Night Pharmacy is an intoxicating portrait of a young woman consumed with unease over how a person should be. As she attempts sobriety and sexual embodiment, she must decide whether to search for her estranged sister, or allow her to remain a relic of the past.

“[A] glowing neon gem…” – Emily St. Martin, Orange County Register

“Get ready for one of the best books of the new millennium… Madievsky has entered the pantheon of debut authors readers will be talking about a decade from now and beyond.” – Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

All-Night Pharmacy crackles with the energy of Hubert Selby Jr.’s Requiem for a Dream or Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions… It pulses with intensity as its characters struggle to find their way. The taut narrative is driven by Madievsky’s razor-sharp prose.” – Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times

“Madievsky’s debut has everything I want from a novel: a toxic sister relationship, countless nights at a trashy LA nightclub called Salvation, and a dreamy sapphic romance… This novel is hypnotic; I inhaled it.” – Anna Dorn, Nylon

The Beast You Are: Stories by Paul Tremblay

fiction / horror.

The Beast You ArePaul Tremblay has won widespread acclaim for illuminating the dark horrors of the mind in novels and stories that push the boundaries of storytelling itself. The fifteen pieces in this brilliant collection, The Beast You Are, are all monsters of a kind, ready to loudly (and lovingly) smash through your head and into your heart.

In “The Dead Thing,” a middle-schooler struggles to deal with the aftermath of her parents’ substance addictions and split. One day, her little brother claims he found a shoebox with “the dead thing” inside. He won’t show it to her and he won’t let the box out of his sight. In “The Last Conversation,” a person wakes in a sterile, white room and begins to receive instructions via intercom from a woman named Anne. When they are finally allowed to leave the room to complete a task, what they find is as shocking as it is heartbreaking.

The title novella, “The Beast You Are,” is a mini epic in which the destinies and secrets of a village, a dog, and a cat are intertwined with a giant monster that returns to wreak havoc every thirty years.

A masterpiece of literary horror and psychological suspense, The Beast You Are is a fearlessly imagined collection from one of the most electrifying and innovative writers working today.

“These 15 invigorating horror shorts from Tremblay showcase the author’s imagination and versatility… Tremblay draws well-developed characters whose recognizable humanity makes it easy for readers to accept the weird events happening around them. This will be a smash with horror fans.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…wonderful… These 15 gems, polished to perfection, range from straight-up horror to speculative fiction to psychological terror… a brilliant display of Tremblay’s versatility as a writer… For fans of Tremblay, horror, or short fiction in general, this one’s a must-have.” – David Pitt, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers will be unable to look away, even as they see themselves in the horror. Yet another not-to-miss release by the popular and critically acclaimed Tremblay, showcasing a discomfort that is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson but still new and thought-provoking.” – Becky Spratford, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood’s Greatest Love Affair by William J. Mann

nonfiction / history / film.

Bogie & BacallIn Bogie & Bacall, William Mann offers a deep and comprehensive look at Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and the unlikely love they shared. Mann details their early years—Bogart’s effete upbringing in New York City; Bacall’s rise as a model and actress. He paints a vivid portrait of their courtship and twelve-year marriage: the fights, the reconciliations, the children, the affairs, Bogie’s illness and Bacall’s steadfastness until his death. He offers a sympathetic yet clear-eyed portrait of Bacall’s life after Bogie, exploring her relationships with Frank Sinatra and Jason Robards, who would become her second husband, and the identity crisis she faced.

Surpassing previous biographies, Mann digs deep into the celebrities’ personal lives and considers their relationship from surprising angles. Bacall was just nineteen when she started dating the thrice-married forty-five-year-old Bogart. How might that age gap have influenced their relationship? In addition to what she gained, what might Bacall have lost by marrying a Hollywood superstar more than twice her age? How did Bogart, a man of average looks, become one of the greatest movie stars of all time? Throughout, Mann explains the unparalleled successes of their individual careers as well as the extraordinary love between them and the legend that has endured.

Filled with entertaining details and thoughtful insights based on newly available records and correspondence, and illustrated with 30-40 photographs, Bogie & Bacall offers a fresh look at this famous couple, their remarkable relationship, and their legacy.

“One of Hollywood’s finest biographers… Mann offers readers an unprecedented view of the actors’ personal lives and the enduring mythos of their love.” – Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

“[An] engrossing examination of the couple’s intertwined careers and mythologized romance… a spirited narrative that’s hard to put down… Film buffs will eat this up.” – Publishers Weekly

“This revelatory dual chronicle of the lives of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is the definitive biography fans have been waiting for and deserve… fresh, complex, and empathetic… This magnificent biography is splendidly written, reads fast, and is impossible to put down.” – Kevin Howell, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Burn the Negative by Josh Winning

fiction / horror / suspense / mystery.

Burn the NegativeArriving in L.A. to visit the set of a new streaming horror series, journalist Laura Warren witnesses a man jumping from a bridge, landing right behind her car. Here we go, she thinks. It’s started. Because the series she’s reporting on is a remake of a ’90s horror flick. A cursed ’90s horror flick, which she starred in as a child—and has been running from her whole life.

In The Guesthouse, Laura played the little girl with the terrifying gift to tell people how the Needle Man would kill them. When eight of the cast and crew died in ways that eerily mirrored the movie’s on-screen deaths, the film became a cult classic—and ruined her life. Leaving it behind, Laura changed her name and her accent, dyed her hair, and moved across the Atlantic. But some scripts don’t want to stay buried.

Now, as the body count rises again, Laura finds herself on the run with her aspiring actress sister and a jaded psychic, hoping to end the curse once and for all—and to stay out of the Needle Man’s lethal reach.

“Like the classic horror cinema it gleefully riffs on, Winning’s latest crackles with both dread and dazzle… keeps readers guessing… [leads] to a cinematically spectacular finale with several surprising plot twists. Horror fans should grab the popcorn for this bloody and entertaining romp.” – Publishers Weekly

“Mixing equal parts scares and gore and an enjoyable amount of humor, the novel manages to grab readers’ attention and hold it fast for the entire ride… moving and gripping. A strong female cast and lightning-quick plot twists are sure to keep readers wanting more… a spine-tingling, rip-roaring yarn that hearkens back to the thrills and chills of the best ’80s slasher horror.” – Jeremiah Paddock, Library Journal

“The mystery is a compelling one, the details unsettling from the jump… A pulpy exploration of the monsters we make and a love letter to cult-classic frights.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi

fiction / mystery / suspense.

The CentreAnisa Ellahi dreams of being a translator of ‘great works of literature’, but instead mostly spends her days subtitling Bollywood films in her flat in London while living off her parents’ generous allowance and discussing the ‘underside of life’ with her best friend, Naima. Then she meets Adam, who has successfully leveraged his savant-level aptitude for languages into an enviable career. At first, this only adds to her sense of inadequacy, but when Adam learns to speak Urdu with native fluency practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.

Adam tells Anisa about the Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees absolute fluency in any language in just ten days. Skeptical but intrigued, Anisa enrolls. Stripped of her belongings and all contact with the outside world, she undergoes the Centre’s strange and rigorous processes. But as she enmeshes herself further within the organization, seduced by all that it’s made possible, she soon realizes the disturbing, hidden cost of its services.

By turns dark, funny, and surreal, and with twists page-turning and shocking, The Centre takes the reader on a journey through Karachi, London, and New Delhi, interrogating the sticky politics of language, translation, and appropriation with biting specificity, and ultimately asking: what price would you be willing to pay for success?

“A vicious and entertaining speculative satire of late-stage capitalism.” – Molly Odintz, CrimeReads

“A fast-paced thriller with its finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary social discourse.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Siddiqi’s cleverly written debut is atmospheric and unsettling… The unlikable characters and narrative voice will leave readers feeling uneasy and uncomfortable, while the suspense builds quietly toward the final startling reveal and many interconnected social issues… The questions raised by this heady story and its abrupt ending are perfect for book club discussions.” – Sarah Sullivan, Library Journal

Button Hoopla Listen

Dead of Winter by Darcy Coates

fiction / suspense / horror / mystery.

Dead of WinterWhen Christa joins a tour group heading deep into the snowy expanse of the Rocky Mountains, she’s hopeful this will be her chance to put the ghosts of her past to rest. But when a bitterly cold snowstorm sweeps the region, the small group is forced to take shelter in an abandoned hunting cabin. Despite the uncomfortably claustrophobic quarters and rapidly dropping temperature, Christa believes they’ll be safe as they wait out the storm.

She couldn’t be more wrong.

Deep in the night, their tour guide goes missing… only to be discovered the following morning, his severed head impaled on a tree outside the cabin. Terrified, and completely isolated by the storm, Christa finds herself trapped with eight total strangers. One of them kills for sport… and they’re far from finished. As the storm grows more dangerous and the number of survivors dwindles one by one, Christa must decide who she can trust before this frozen mountain becomes her tomb.

“[A] fine blend of thriller and horror… fresh, scary, and—especially for readers who are even a little claustrophobic—deeply unsettling. Coates’ writing is so vivid that we can hear the winds buffeting the cabin, we can feel the bone-chilling cold, and we can smell the fear. Fine work.” – David Pitt, Booklist

“Coates’s latest is a compelling page-turner for readers of horror and thriller fiction, in the vein of Dean Koontz and Stephen King. The writing is magnetic and descriptive in a way that will have readers shivering from both the cold and outright fear.” – Linsey Milillo, Library Journal

“Darcy Coates upholds her reputation as a deft storyteller with a knack for conjuring atmospheric page-turners in her latest release… readers will reach for the nearest night light… bloody masterful… A must-read.” – Haley Newlin, Cemetery Dance

Button Hoopla Read

Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future by Gloria Dickie

nonfiction / science / nature / animals / history / travel.

Eight BearsBears have always held a central place in our collective memory, from Indigenous folklore and Greek mythology to nineteenth-century fairytales and the modern toy shop. But as humans and bears come into ever-closer contact, our relationship nears a tipping point. Today, most of the eight remaining bear species are threatened with extinction. Some, such as the panda bear and the polar bear, are icons of the natural world; others, such as the spectacled bear and the sloth bear, are far less known.

In Eight Bears, journalist Gloria Dickie embarks on a globe-trotting journey to explore each bear’s story, whisking readers from the cloud forests of the Andes to the ice floes of the Arctic; from the jungles of India to the backwoods of the Rocky Mountain West. She meets with key figures on the frontlines of modern conservation efforts—the head of a rescue center for sun and moon bears freed from bile farms, a biologist known as Papa Panda, who has led China’s panda-breeding efforts for almost four decades, a conservationist retraining a military radar system to detect and track polar bears near towns—to reveal the unparalleled challenges bears face as they contend with a rapidly changing climate and encroaching human populations.

Weaving together ecology, history, mythology, and a captivating account of her travels and observations, Dickie offers a closer look at our volatile relationship with these magnificent mammals. Engrossing and deeply reported, Eight Bears delivers a clear warning for what we risk losing if we don’t learn to live alongside the animals that have shaped our cultures, geographies, and stories.

“As both ecological wake-up call and cultural deep dive, Eight Bears is an important document of what we have, and what we stand to lose.” – Jonny Diamond, Literary Hub

“…superb… The searching accounts of threats faced by bears across the globe illuminate the struggles conservationists face, and the crisp prose will transport readers. It’s a winning combination of travel and environmental reporting.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Eight Bears roars about the majesty and charisma of these remarkable creatures while illuminating their escalating vulnerability in a changing environment.” – Tony Miksanek, Booklist

Button Hoopla Listen

An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo

fiction / mystery / suspense.

An Evil HeartOn a crisp autumn day in Painters Mill, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder responds to a call only to discover an Amish man who has been violently killed with a crossbow, his body abandoned on a dirt road. Aden Karn was just twenty years old, well liked, and from an upstanding Amish family. Who would commit such a heinous crime against a young man whose life was just beginning?

The more Kate gets to know his devastated family and the people—both English and Amish—who loved him, the more determined she becomes to solve the case. Aden Karn was funny and hardworking and looking forward to marrying his sweet fiancé, Emily. All the while, Kate’s own wedding day to Tomasetti draws near…

But as she delves into Karn’s past, Kate begins to hear whispers about a dark side. What if Aden Karn wasn’t the wholesome young man everyone admired? Is it possible the rumors are a cruel campaign to blame the victim? Kate pursues every lead with a vengeance, sensing an unspeakable secret no one will broach.

The case spirals out of control when a young Amish woman comes forward with a horrific story that pits Kate against a dangerous and unexpected opponent. When the awful truth is finally uncovered, Kate comes face to face with the terrible consequences of a life lived in all the dark places.

“…thrilling… Castillo’s punchy prose and well-developed characters keep the pages turning… Series fans will be eager for the next entry.” – Publishers Weekly

“Characters you care about and a cleareyed look at their unique culture make this series the best of the Amish bunch.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] compelling, violent police procedural, alleviated by the love and tenderness surrounding the upcoming wedding. Those who watched Kate’s developing relationship will enjoy the storyline surrounding the wedding and the skill with which the author juggles crime and kindness.” – Lesa Holstine, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYism, and Class Bias Build the Walls We Don’t See by Richard D. Kahlenberg

nonfiction / politics / current events.

ExcludedThe last, acceptable form of prejudice in America is based on class and executed through state-sponsored economic discrimination, which is hard to see because it is much more subtle than raw racism.

While the American meritocracy officially denounces prejudice based on race and gender, it has spawned a new form of bias against those with less education and income. Millions of working-class Americans have their opportunity blocked by exclusionary snob zoning. These government policies make housing unaffordable, frustrate the goals of the civil rights movement, and lock in inequality in our urban and suburban landscapes.

Through moving accounts of families excluded from economic and social opportunity as they are hemmed in through “new redlining” that limits the type of housing that can be built, Richard Kahlenberg vividly illustrates why America has a housing crisis. He also illustrates why economic segregation matters since where you live affects access to transportation, employment opportunities, decent health care, and good schools. He shows that housing choice has been socially engineered to the benefit of the affluent and that, astonishingly, the most restrictive zoning is found in politically liberal cities where racial views are more progressive.

Despite this there is hope. Kahlenberg tells the inspiring stories of a growing number of local and national movements working to tear down the walls that inflicts so much damage on the lives of millions of Americans.

“Provocative… A thoughtful, worthy argument for fair-housing reforms that are truly fair.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…comprehensive… Kahlenberg persuasively addresses concerns from both the right and the left, and stuffs the book with an abundance of research. It’s a valuable guide to fixing one of America’s most enduring social ills.” – Publishers Weekly

Flags on the Bayou by James Lee Burke

fiction / historical fiction.

Flags on the BayouIn the fall of 1863, the Union army is in control of the Mississippi river. Much of Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is occupied. The Confederate army is in disarray, corrupt structures are falling apart, and enslaved men and women are beginning to glimpse freedom.

When Hannah Laveau, a formerly enslaved woman working on the Lufkin plantation, is accused of murder, she goes on the run with Florence Milton, an abolitionist schoolteacher, dodging the local constable and the slavecatchers that prowl the bayous. Wade Lufkin, haunted by what he observed—and did—as a surgeon on the battlefield, has returned to his uncle’s plantation to convalesce, where he becomes enraptured by Hannah.

Flags on the Bayou is an engaging, action-packed narrative that includes a duel that ends in disaster, a brutal encounter with the local Union commander, repeated skirmishes with Confederate irregulars led by a diseased and probably deranged colonel, and a powerful story of love blossoming between an unlikely pair. As the story unfolds, it illuminates a past that reflects our present in sharp relief.

“The writing is lush and lavishly descriptive in its evocation of this very specific time and place… A remarkable, beautiful, edgy, and haunting novel.” – David Pitt, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“In his closing acknowledgments, Burke indicates that he considers this novel his very best. Even readers who find themselves swamped by all the calamities of war may well agree that it’s his most probing examination of the enduring legacy of slavery. A grueling, compassionate demonstration that ‘the devil ain’t down in a fiery pit. He’s right here.’” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“No one can word-sketch an eerily beautiful scene quite like the living legend James Lee Burke, whether he’s describing bloodred bougainvillea dripping off ironwork in New Orleans or fog shrouding the Mississippi.” – CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun

Good Fortune by C.K. Chau

fiction / romance.

Good FortuneWhen Elizabeth Chen’s ever-hustling realtor mother finally sells the beloved if derelict community center down the block, the new owners don’t look like typical New York City buyers. Brendan Lee and Darcy Wong are good Chinese boys with Hong Kong money. Clean-cut and charismatic, they say they are committed to cleaning up the neighborhood. To Elizabeth, that only means one thing: Darcy is looking to give the center an uptown makeover.

Elizabeth is determined to fight for community over profit, even if it means confronting the arrogant, uptight man every chance she gets. But where clever, cynical Elizabeth sees lemons, her mother sees lemonade. Eager to get Elizabeth and her other four daughters ahead in the world (and out of their crammed family apartment), Mrs. Chen takes every opportunity to keep her investors close. Closer than Elizabeth likes.

The more time they spend together, the more conflicted Elizabeth feels… until a shocking betrayal forces her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, trust, and the kind of person Darcy Wong really is.

“[A] witty and entertaining debut… With sharp dialogue, a vibrant backdrop, smart explorations of gentrification and family duty, and, above all, an endearing central romance, this should win Chau many fans.” – Publishers Weekly

“Readers looking for a new, entertaining, and contemporary perspective on Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice will be thrilled with Chau’s debut… Janeites will love the creativity of Chau’s updated approach, and fans of romantic comedies will want to see this as their next favorite television series.” – Stacey Hayman, Booklist

“…wonderful… In re-classing the Bennets, Chau both uncovers new layers in the original and reveals some of what Austen left out.” – Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell

nonfiction / science / ecology / current events.

The Heat Will Kill You FirstThe world is waking up to a new reality: wildfires are now seasonal in California, the Northeast is getting less and less snow each winter, and the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica are melting fast. Heat is the first order threat that drives all other impacts of the climate crisis. And as the temperature rises, it is revealing fault lines in our governments, our politics, our economy, and our values. The basic science is not complicated: Stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, and the global temperature will stop rising tomorrow. Stop burning fossil fuels in 50 years, and the temperature will keep rising for 50 years, making parts of our planet virtually uninhabitable. It’s up to us. The hotter it gets, the deeper and wider our fault lines will open.

The Heat Will Kill You First is about the extreme ways in which our planet is already changing. It is about why spring is coming a few weeks earlier and fall is coming a few weeks later and the impact that will have on everything from our food supply to disease outbreaks. It is about what will happen to our lives and our communities when typical summer days in Chicago or Boston go from 90°F to 110°F. A heatwave, Goodell explains, is a predatory event— one that culls out the most vulnerable people. But that is changing. As heatwaves become more intense and more common, they will become more democratic.

As an award-winning journalist who has been at the forefront of environmental journalism for decades, Goodell’s new book may be his most provocative yet, explaining how extreme heat will dramatically change the world as we know it. Masterfully reported, mixing the latest scientific insight with on-the-ground storytelling, Jeff Goodell tackles the big questions and uncovers how extreme heat is a force beyond anything we have reckoned with before.

“In his fast-paced new book about climate change… Goodell denounces the term ‘global warming’ for sounding ‘gentle and soothing.’ As this terrifying book makes exceptionally clear, thinking we can just crank up the A.C. is a dangerous way to live. This is a propulsive book, one to be raced through; the planet is burning, and we are running out of time.” – Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

“…gripping… Yet another stark, crucial reminder that we are running out of time to save humankind.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] startling report… The alarming case studies are well complemented by elegant reportage on overheated regions and disturbing explanations of the dire physical effects of excessive heat. The result is a sobering assessment of the risks of global warming.” – Publishers Weekly

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

fiction / romance.

Hello StrangerSadie Montgomery never saw what was coming… Literally! One minute she’s celebrating the biggest achievement of her life—placing as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society competition—the next, she’s lying in a hospital bed diagnosed with a “probably temporary” condition known as face blindness. She can see, but every face she looks at is now a jumbled puzzle of disconnected features. Imagine trying to read a book upside down and in another language. This is Sadie’s new reality with every face she sees.

But, as she struggles to cope, hang on to her artistic dream, work through major family issues, and take care of her beloved dog, Peanut, she falls into—love? Lust? A temporary obsession to distract from the real problems in her life?—with not one man but two very different ones. The timing couldn’t be worse.

If only her life were a little more in focus, Sadie might be able to find her way. But perceiving anything clearly right now seems impossible. Even though there are things we can only find when we aren’t looking. And there are people who show up when we least expect them. And there are always, always other ways of seeing.

“Reading Hello Stranger feels like drinking a cool glass of lemonade on a warm day—renewing and refreshing… pure magic, will make romance readers feel seen, and will give non-romance readers a perfect view into our world.” – Kami Tei, Amazon

“Readers who enjoy Jenny Colgan and Susan Mallery will love this engaging, well-written romance from Center.” – Heather Miller Cover, Library Journal

“With a thoroughly modern millennial heroine at the helm, this emotional contemporary from Center tugs on the heartstrings and grabs attention… a dash of humor and an endearing love story make the pages fly. Readers will be hooked.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood by Brian “Box” Brown

nonfiction / graphic novel / business / history.

The He-Man EffectPowered by the advent of television and super-charged by the deregulation era of the 1980s, media companies and toy manufacturers joined forces to dominate the psyches of American children. But what are the consequences when a developing brain is saturated with the same kind of marketing bombardment found in Red Scare propaganda?

Brian “Box” Brown’s The He-Man Effect shows how corporate manipulation brought muscular, accessory-stuffed action figures to dizzying heights in the 1980s and beyond. Bringing beloved brands like He-Man, Transformers, My Little Pony, and even Mickey Mouse himself into the spotlight, this graphic history exposes a world with no rules and no concern for results beyond profit.

“Excellently presented. A wonderfully clear and concise timeline.” – Dan Larson, Secret Galaxy

“[An] impassioned and incensed survey of a half-century of hawking toys to kids… This accessible examination of the wars waged on after-school television and in the toy aisle should interest any reader attuned to the cultural critiques of Naomi Klein and Adam Curtis, as well as those who catch themselves humming the ThunderCats theme.” – Publishers Weekly

“Brown returns with another clever, sharp, and well-researched graphic novel that explores a pop culture non-fiction topic in close detail.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED REVIEW

It Happened One Fight by Maureen Lee Lenker

fiction / romance / historical fiction / comedy.

It Happened One FightJoan Davis is a movie star, and a damned good actor, too. Unfortunately, Hollywood only seems to care when she stars alongside Dash Howard, Tinseltown’s favorite leading man and a perpetual thorn in Joan’s side. She’s sick of his hotshot attitude, his never-ending attempts to get a rise out of her―especially after the night he sold her out to the press on a studio-arranged date. She’ll turn her career around without him. She’s engaged to Hollywood’s next rising star, after all, and preparing to make the film that could finally get her taken seriously. Then, a bombshell drops: thanks to one of his on-set pranks gone wrong, Dash and Joan are legally married.

Reputation on the line, Joan agrees to star alongside Dash one last time and move production to Reno, where divorce is legal after a six-week residency. But between on-set shenanigans, fishing competitions at Lake Tahoe, and intimate moments leaked to the press, Joan begins to see another side to the man she thought she had all figured out, and it becomes harder and harder to convince the public―and herself―that her marriage to Dash is the joke it started out as.

“[A] delightful love letter to the screwball comedy… tremendously fun and well realized… there’s plenty to enjoy here—especially for film buffs.” – Publishers Weekly

Entertainment Weekly reporter Lenker’s debut is a unique historical romance that takes readers back to the days of old Hollywood and the ritz of Reno, complete with the enduring themes of love, passion, and betrayal.” – Judy Garner, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Lenker’s debut delights in playing with the language and tropes of classic Hollywood films… A promising debut for historical romance readers looking for a fresh, new setting.” – Kirkus Reviews

Button Hoopla ReadButton Hoopla Listen

Jews in the Garden: A Holocaust Survivor, the Fate of His Family, and the Secret History of Poland in World War II by Judy Rakowsky

nonfiction / history / biography / memoir.

Jews in the Garden1944: Heavy footfalls thud on the road on a rainy May night. A band of gunmen scour a hilltop farm, acting on rumors that it harbors a Jewish family. For 18 months, the Rozeneks have been hiding safely, but their luck is about to run out. Only one from the family of six will live to see the sunrise. Sixteen-year-old Hena Rozenek shelters in the woods until morning… and then she runs.

Forty years later: Holocaust survivor Sam Rakowski Ron has lived in the United States for decades, never thinking he could return to the Polish village he fled as a teenager. But now he’s ready to talk about what he heard, what he saw, and what he knows about two separate families of cousins who were his neighbors, and presumably were killed during the war. The story Poland presents to the world is that Poles saved more Jews than citizens of any other nation, that any murders in Poland were committed by Nazis and Nazis alone. But Sam, while defending his countrymen, suspects a painful truth. The stories he shares with his younger cousin, Judy, an investigative journalist, send them off on a decades-long journey unlike any other to find out what happened to the Rozenek family and ultimately reveal the secrets the Polish government is still desperate to keep.

Jews in the Garden is a globe-trotting detective story that turns investigative eyes and ears toward the hidden events in Poland during the Holocaust. Judy and Sam, the unlikeliest of sleuthing duos, knock on doors, petition court documents, seek clandestine meetings, and ultimately discover what really happened to the “Jews in the garden next door.”

“An intriguing look into a little-understood and largely unrecognized part of Holocaust history.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Rakowsky’s prose is the equal of any novelist… A thrilling blend of the personal and the historical.” – Anthony Aycock, Booklist

“An engrossing, engagingly written, highly researched account of a journey to find out the truth of what happened to a specific family during the Holocaust.” – Jacqueline Parascandola, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Button Hoopla ReadButton Hoopla Listen

Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America’s Legendary Racehorse by Kim Wickens

nonfiction / history / sports / animals.

LexingtonThe early days of American horse racing were grueling. Four-mile races, run two or three times in succession, were the norm, rewarding horses who brandished the ideal combination of stamina and speed. The stallion Lexington, named after the city in Kentucky where he was born, possessed these winning qualities, which pioneering Americans prized.

Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race, showing a war-torn nation that the extraordinary was possible even in those perilous times. He would continue his winning career until deteriorating eyesight forced his retirement in 1855. But once his groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended, his role as a sire began. Horses from his bloodline won more money than the offspring of any other Thoroughbred—an annual success that led Lexington to be named America’s leading sire an unprecedented sixteen times.

Yet with the Civil War raging, Lexington’s years at a Kentucky stud farm were far from idyllic. Confederate soldiers ran amok, looting freely and kidnapping horses from the top stables. They soon focused on the prized Lexington and his valuable progeny.

Kim Wickens, a lawyer and dressage rider, became fascinated by this legendary horse when she learned that twelve of Thoroughbred racing’s thirteen Triple Crown winners descended from Lexington. Wickens spent years meticulously researching the horse and his legacy—and with Lexington, she presents an absorbing, exciting account that transports readers back to the raucous beginning of American horse racing and introduces them to the stallion at its heart.

“Spirited biography of a famed thoroughbred… Fans of horse racing and American history alike will enjoy this lively story.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…colorful… Lovers of both history and horses will take enjoyment from this thoroughly told tale.” – Publishers Weekly

The Militia House by John Milas

fiction / horror / mystery.

The Militia HouseIt’s 2010, and the recently promoted Corporal Loyette and his unit are finishing up their deployment at a new base in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Their duties here are straightforward―loading and unloading cargo into and out of helicopters―and their days are a mix of boredom and dread. The Brits they’re replacing delight in telling them the history of the old barracks just off base, a Soviet-era militia house they claim is haunted, and Loyette and his men don’t need much convincing to make a clandestine trip outside the wire to explore it.

It’s a short, middle-of-the-day adventure, but the men experience a mounting agitation after their visit to the militia house. In the days that follow they try to forget about the strange, unsettling sights and sounds from the house, but things are increasingly… not right. Loyette becomes determined to ignore his and his marines’ growing unease, convinced that it’s just the strain of war playing tricks on them. But something about the militia house will not let them go.

Meticulously plotted and viscerally immediate in its telling, The Militia House is a gripping and brilliant exploration of the unceasing horrors of war that’s no more easily shaken than the militia house itself.

“[A] sharp, disturbing debut.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Milas is a wordsmith, and this novel is as haunting as it is impressive.” – Molly Odintz, CrimeReads

The Militia House ensnares the reader in its unsettling atmosphere. The commentary around the military industrial complex and PTSD is subtle, casting a critical eye that never fully dives into polemic. A wild, immersive ride.” – Wesley Minter, Indie Next

“Horror debuts don’t come much more impressive than this unsettling offering from Milas, who puts his experience as a U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan to good use… Milas’s facility for capturing the mixed terror and boredom of war makes this a standout… Milas is brilliant at making his lead’s eerie experiences and surreal hallucinations vivid, scary, and psychologically nuanced. Fans of classic horror will welcome this outstanding new talent.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Murder Wheel by Tom Mead

fiction / mystery / historical fiction.

The Murder Wheel“Can you solve the Ferris wheel murder case?”

When a sensational killing rocks 1938 London, local newspaper ads offer a hefty sum to the person who can say whodunnit. A man has been shot dead at the top of a Ferris wheel, and his wife ― the only other person in their carriage ― insists on her innocence. But who else could have fired the deadly bullet and escaped unseen? The sheer implausibility of the claim is enough to whip the press into a frenzy and, for young and idealistic Edmund Ibbs, the lawyer representing the accused, that frenzy may be his only hope at discovering the truth of the mysterious murder.

As he digs into the case, Ibbs unwittingly enters a shadowy web of conspiracy and murder, soon finding himself implicated in not one but two seemingly impossible crimes. First, a corpse appears out of thin air during a performance by a famed illusionist, then a second victim is mortally wounded in a locked dressing room backstage.

Edmund is in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time, attracting the suspicion of Scotland Yard inspector George Flint. His only hope at freedom comes in the form of retired stage magician Joseph Spector, a man steeped in the art of misdirection, who happens to be in the audience for the deadly show. Spector’s mastery of illusion is capable of piercing the veil of deceit, but will his deductive powers be strong enough to explain this utterly confounding series of crimes?

Featuring a puzzling plot with a brilliant and fairly clued solution, The Murder Wheel is a delightful homage to the Golden Age mystery sure to please fans of classic crime fiction; Tom Mead’s atmospheric writing and memorable, complex characters prove him to be one of the best new talents in the historical mystery of today.

“Even readers who live to match wits with canny authors and detectives are likely to be outwitted by this one.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of Golden Age locked-room mysteries will appreciate the homage in Mead’s sequel to Death and the Conjuror.” – Lesa Holstine, Library Journal

“…brilliant… Mead plays scrupulously fair with his readers, going so far as to include footnotes that identify which prior pages displayed clues in plain sight. Lovers of John Dickson Carr’s puzzle mysteries will hope Mead has many more Spector tales up his sleeve.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Button Hoopla Listen

Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery

fiction / historical fiction.

Nothing SpecialNew York City, 1966. Seventeen-year-old Mae lives in a rundown apartment with her alcoholic mother and her mother’s sometimes-boyfriend, Mikey. She is turned off by the petty girls at her high school and the sleazy men she typically meets. When she drops out, she is presented with a job offer that will remake her world: She is hired as a typist for the artist Andy Warhol.

Warhol is composing an unconventional novel by recording the conversations and experiences of his many famous and alluring friends. Tasked with transcribing these tapes alongside several other girls, Mae quickly befriends Shelley, and the two of them embark on a surreal adventure at the fringes of the counter-cultural movement. Going to parties together, exploring their womanhood and sexuality, this should be the most enlivening experience of Mae’s life. But as she grows increasingly obsessed with the tapes and numb to her own reality, Mae must grapple with the thin line between art and voyeurism and determine how she can remain her own person as the tide of the sixties sweeps over her.

For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh and Mary Gaitskill, this blistering, mordantly funny debut novel brilliantly interrogates the nature of friendship and independence and the construction of art and identity. Nothing Special is a whip-smart coming-of-age story that brings to life the experience of young girls in this iconic and turbulent American moment.

“A wildly original debut… maddeningly engrossing… Flattery’s prose is sharp and sophisticated – and the book as a whole is brilliantly confounding. It is surprising and unsettling, but always gripping.” – Ellen Peirson-Hagger, iNews

“…inspired… Flattery’s fresh take on familiar lore makes this something special indeed.” – Publishers Weekly

“The ‘vibes’ are strong in Nothing Special. It does an excellent job of evoking 1960s New York, and balances its ideas of voyeurism and longing expertly.” – Marie-Claire Chappet, Harper’s Bazaar

“Flattery’s coming-of-age debut novel is a bold and brilliant examination of an iconic-and ultimately hollow-movement from the vantage point of its most invisible cogs… The subversive approach to a familiar modern mythos, the cool-but-crackling dialogue, the knotty psychological portrait of its rescued-and-reimagined protagonist. Between this brava debut, and her weirdly-compelling 2020 collection Show Them a Good Time, Flattery has already established herself one of the most talented and intriguing writers at work in Ireland today.” – Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub

Outrage Machine: How Tech Amplifies Discontent, Disrupts Democracy – And What We Can Do About It by Tobias Rose-Stockwell

nonfiction / technology / current events.

Outrage MachineThe original internet was not designed to make us upset, distracted, confused, and outraged. But something unexpected happened at the turn of the last decade, when a handful of small features were quietly launched at social media companies with little fanfare. Together, they triggered a cascading set of dramatic changes to how media, politics, and society itself operate—inadvertently creating an Outrage Machine we cannot ignore.

Author, designer, and media researcher Tobias Rose-Stockwell shares the defining shifts caused by these technologies, and how they have ignited a society-wide crisis of trust. Drawing from cutting-edge research and vivid personal anecdotes, Rose-Stockwell illustrates how social media has bound us to an unprecedented system of public performance, training us to react rather than reflect, and attack rather than debate.

Outrage Machine reveals the triggers and tactics used to exploit our anger, unpacking how these tools hack our deep tribal instincts and psychological vulnerabilities, and how they have become opportunistic platforms for authoritarians and a threat to democratic norms everywhere.

But this book is not just about the problem. In a story spanning continents and generations, Rose-Stockwell explores how every new media technology disrupts our ability to make sense of the world, from the printing press to the telegraph, from radio to television. Outrage Machine situates social media within a historical cycle of confusion, violence, and emerging tolerance. Using clear language and powerful illustrations, this book reveals the magnitude of the challenges we face, while offering realistic solutions and a promising pathway out.

“Based on solid research, this is a disturbing examination of the destructive impact of social media.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…masterful… Rose-Stockwell improves upon previous treatments of this topic by placing online polarization in historical context… The historical perspective enlightens, and the author’s sensible suggestions—including recommendations to make algorithms more transparent and to rigorously verify that ‘all users are real humans’—chart a way out of the morass. The result is a superior take on how to tame social media.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Paris Agent by Kelly Rimmer

fiction / historical fiction.

The Paris Agent1970—In the aftermath of his war-ravaged past, Noah Ainsworth is still haunted by memories of his time as a fearless British operative in France. But a critical head injury left Noah with frustrating memory gaps and a burning question that plagues him—who was the agent who saved his life during that tragic final mission?

Determined to find answers, Noah’s daughter Charlotte embarks on a quest from their cozy home in Liverpool, leading her to the incredible lives of two ordinary women—Chloe and Fleur—who transformed into fearless spies on foreign soil. But as Charlotte unravels the heroic exploits of these women and their connection to Noah, she inadvertently stumbles upon evidence of a double agent lurking disturbingly close to home, drawing her into a treacherous web of secrets and unearthing a shocking story from those final days of the war.

Once again, Kelly Rimmer takes readers on a gripping journey, one that threads the lives of two remarkable women into the fabric of history, unveiling the power of courage, family and the indelible mark left by the darkest era of human conflict.

“Kelly Rimmer’s novels are remarkable sagas, and her latest book blends historical fiction and mystery in a web of courageous women… will leave you stunned.” – Brittany Bunzey, Barnes & Noble

“No one writes historical fiction quite like Rimmer… will break your heart and steal your breath… It’s a powerful read with a climax so brilliantly intense it will remain with you.” – Better Reading

“It’s filled with well-written characters, interesting stories, and shocking twists and turns. You will not want to put this one down.” – Red Carpet Crash

Button Hoopla Listen

The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial by David Lipsky

nonfiction / science / ecology / nature / politics / history.

The Parrot and the IglooIn 1956, the New York Times prophesied that once global warming really kicked in, we could see parrots in the Antarctic. In 2010, when science deniers had control of the climate story, Senator James Inhofe and his family built an igloo on the Washington Mall and plunked a sign on top: AL GORE’S NEW HOME: HONK IF YOU LOVE CLIMATE CHANGE. In The Parrot and the Igloo, best-selling author David Lipsky tells the astonishing story of how we moved from one extreme (the correct one) to the other.

With narrative sweep and a superb eye for character, Lipsky unfolds the dramatic narrative of the long, strange march of climate science. The story begins with a tale of three inventors―Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla―who made our technological world, not knowing what they had set into motion. Then there are the scientists who sounded the alarm once they identified carbon dioxide as the culprit of our warming planet. And we meet the hucksters, zealots, and crackpots who lied about that science and misled the public in ever more outrageous ways. Lipsky masterfully traces the evolution of climate denial, exposing how it grew out of early efforts to build a network of untruth about products like aspirin and cigarettes.

Featuring an indelible cast of heroes and villains, mavericks and swindlers, The Parrot and the Igloo delivers a real-life tragicomedy―one that captures the extraordinary dance of science, money, and the American character.

“With the amount of research that went into this book, this can be considered the historical record to date on climate action and inaction.” – Lucy Roehrig, Booklist

“[A] simultaneously captivating and disturbing book… An important book that will leave your head shaking.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Humor accompanies horrific truths in this vital look at the rise of climate change denial… revelatory… sobering and incisive. Buoyed by thorough historical research, this is a first-rate entry in the field of climate denial studies.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Button Hoopla Listen

Play to Win by Jodie Slaughter

fiction / romance.

Play to WinMiriam Butler’s life is going nowhere in the slowest, most excruciating way possible. Stuck in the same barely-paying job she’s had since she was sixteen and spending every night sleeping in the spare twin bed in her mother’s house, her existence might be hilarious if it wasn’t so bleak. One trip to her favorite corner store upends everything when she finds herself the winner of a Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot. Unfortunately, not even life-altering roses come without their painful thorns. Hers just so happen to be in the form of an estranged husband who has the right to claim his share of her money.

It’s been eight years since Leo Vaughn has had a conversation with his wife. When she calls out of the blue, practically begging him to come back to Greenbelt, the last thing he expects her to tell him when he gets there is that she’s come into a whole heap of money. She offers him a life-changing proposition of his own. Take a lump sum, finally sign the divorce papers, and be done with her for good. Only, a forever without her is the last thing Leo wants. So he gives a proposition of his own. One that won’t cost her nearly as many millions, but will buy him the time to do the one thing he’s been hungry to do since he left — win her back.

“This contemporary romance set in the South is an immensely sexy and emotionally tender story about second chances, community, and family.” – Migdalia Jimenez, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Slaughter’s exploration of the importance of communication and self-healing, and thoughtful consideration of the socioeconomic pressures on Black families will resonate.” – Publishers Weekly

“This romance is sexually frank, starkly intimate and often sizzling.” – BookPage

Queen of Exiles by Vanessa Riley

fiction / historical fiction / romance.

Queen of ExilesThe Queen of Exiles is Marie-Louise Christophe, wife and then widow of Henry I, who ruled over the newly liberated Kingdom of Hayti in the wake of the brutal Haitian Revolution.

In 1810 Louise is crowned queen as her husband begins his reign over the first and only free Black nation in the Western Hemisphere. But despite their newfound freedom, Haitians still struggle under mountains of debt to France and indifference from former allies in Britain and the new United States. Louise desperately tries to steer the country’s political course as King Henry descends into a mire of mental illness.

In 1820, King Henry is overthrown and dies by his own hand. Louise and her daughters manage to flee to Europe with their smuggled jewels. In exile, the resilient Louise redefines her role, recovering the fortune that Henry had lost and establishing herself as an equal to the kings of European nations. With newspapers and gossip tracking their every movement, Louise and her daughters tour Europe like other royals, complete with glittering balls and princes with marriage proposals. As they find their footing–and acceptance–they discover more about themselves, their Blackness, and the opportunities they can grasp in a European and male-dominated world.

Queen of Exiles is the tale of a remarkable Black woman of history–a canny and bold survivor who chooses the fire and ideals of political struggle, and then is forced to rebuild her life on her own terms, forever a queen.

“Riley does justice to a queen and her people.” – Publishers Weekly

“…full of intrigue, scandal and romance.” – Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“…provocative… languid and captivating… Riley’s engaging characters pull us into the world of privileged royals, their stately homes, breathtaking wealth, and, deliciously, their romances and illicit affairs… Fans of Regency romances and stories of strong Black women will find Haiti’s Queen Marie-Louise irresistible.” – Kirkus Reviews

Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health by Anupam B. Jena, M.D., Ph.D. & Christopher Worsham, M.D.

nonfiction / medicine / health / current events.

Random Acts of MedicineDoes timing, circumstance, or luck impact your health care? This groundbreaking book reveals the hidden side of medicine and how unexpected—but predictable—events can profoundly affect our health.

Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Why do kids born in the summer get diagnosed more often with A.D.H.D.? How are marathons harmful for your health, even when you’re not running?

As a University of Chicago–trained economist and Harvard medical school professor and doctor, Anupam Jena is uniquely equipped to answer these questions. And as a critical care doctor at Massachusetts General who researches health care policy, Christopher Worsham confronts their impact on the hospital’s sickest patients. In this singular work of science and medicine, Jena and Worsham show us how medicine really works, and its effect on all of us.

Relying on ingeniously devised natural experiments—random events that unknowingly turn us into experimental subjects—Jena and Worsham do more than offer readers colorful stories. They help us see the way our health is shaped by forces invisible to the untrained eye. Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie?  Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? These questions are rife with significance; their impact can be life changing. Addressing them in a style that’s both animated and enlightening, Random Acts of Medicine empowers you to see past the white coat and find out what really makes medicine work—and how it could work better.

“Revealing… Though their tone is occasionally lighthearted, [Jena] and Worsham repeatedly drive home a serious point: The American health care system is failing to deliver optimal care, often due to the unquestioned assumptions and inherent biases of its providers. If this provocative book can spark conversations about how to examine these persistent problems with fresh eyes, its authors have accomplished something truly important.” – BookPage

“…ingenious… Few readers will ignore the long section on who makes the best doctor… A well-documented, unnerving, fascinating study for anyone adrift in the American health care system.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“As Worsham notes, Jena taught him to think creatively about research and to practice and hone this skill and to share it, which they both do here, admirably and intriguingly.” – Karen Springen, Booklist

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter


RipeA year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley startup, Cassie finds herself trapped in a corporate nightmare. In addition to the long hours, toxic bosses, and unethical projects, she struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of unhoused people bathing in the bay. Startup burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains, and men set themselves on fire in the streets.

Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, a miniature black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, its size changing in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever-closer as the world around her unravels.

When her CEO’s demands cross an illegal threshold and she ends up unexpectedly pregnant, Cassie must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are really worth it. Sharp but vulnerable, funny yet unsettling, Ripe portrays one millennial woman’s journey through a late-capitalist hellscape and offers an incisive look at the absurdities of modern life.

“At once grim and playful, Ripe succeeds where other dystopian novels sometimes fail, by emphasizing the personal and particular agony of a single frazzled rat in the capitalist maze.” – Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Who doesn’t love a spooky, scary, uncanny Silicon Valley story?” – Shelbi Polk, Shondaland

“A fresh voice, Etter, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel for The Book of X, will undoubtedly cement her place in the literary scene with this one.” – Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“Etter opens Ripe with an onslaught of visceral imagery that stays at a fever pitch all the way through… In a weird way, reading Ripe feels like being hit over the head with a cast-iron frying pan, then willingly going back for more… clear-eyed… harrowing… powerful.” – Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle

A Rulebook for Restless Rogues by Jess Everlee

fiction / romance / historical fiction.

A Rulebook for Restless RoguesLondon, 1885

David Forester and Noah Clarke have been best friends since boarding school. All grown up now, clever, eccentric Noah is Savile Row’s most promising young tailor, while former socialite David runs an underground queer club, The Curious Fox.

Nothing makes David happier than to keep the incense lit, the pianist playing and all his people comfortable, happy and safe until they stumble out into the dawn. But when the unscrupulous baron who owns the Fox moves to close it, David’s world comes crashing down.

Noah’s never feared a little high-stakes gambling, but as he risks his own career in hopes of helping David, he realizes two things:

David has not been honest about how he ended up at The Curious Fox in the first place.

Noah’s feelings for David have become far more than friendly.

What future lies beyond those first furtive kisses? Noah and David can hardly wait to find out… if they can untangle David from his web of deception without losing everything Noah has worked for.

“[A] sweet and satisfying romance.” – Christie Ridgway, BookPage

“…fabulous… In-depth historical details enhance a classic friends-to-lovers tale… Equally sweet and steamy, this will delight Everlee’s fans while enticing many new ones.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] sweet story with a sexy romance that deeply explores the queer friendship and love between Noah and David while maintaining a suspenseful atmosphere throughout. Readers who look for friends-to-lovers romance and stories of queer community will enjoy.” – Sierra Wilson, Library Journal

Button Hoopla Listen

A Song of Salvation by Alechia Dow

fiction / young adult / science fiction / fantasy.

A Song of SalvationZaira Citlali is supposed to die. After all, she’s the god Indigo reborn. Indigo, whose song created the universe and unified people across galaxies to banish Ozvios, the god of destruction. Although Zaira has never been able to harness Indigo’s powers, the Ilori Emperor wants to sacrifice her in Ozvios’s honor. Unless she escapes and finds Wesley, the boy prophesized to help her defeat Ozvios and the Ilori, once and for all.

Wesley Daniels didn’t ask for this. He just wants to work as a smuggler so he can save enough money to explore the stars. Once he completes his biggest job yet—bringing wanted celebrity Rubin Rima to a strange planet called Earth—he’ll be set for life. But when his path crosses with Zaira, he soon finds himself in the middle of an intergalactic war with more responsibility than he bargained for.

Together, Zaira, Wesley, and Rubin must find their way to Earth and unlock Zaira’s powers if they’re going to have any hope of saving the universe from total destruction.

“The importance of chosen family, humanity, and self-love predominate in this piercingly observed adventure that sheds light on the crimes and consequences of colonial occupation.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] rock-solid story filled with introspection, humor, suspenseful twists, and fully developed characters and in which intricate worldbuilding details and plot elements are seamlessly and cleverly interwoven… An uplifting read about love and acceptance in a chaotic universe.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Everything about this novel is absolute perfection!… Alechia Dow is so much more than an author, she is a voice that is powerful enough to change the world if we only listen to the beautiful stories she shares with us.” – The Fantasy Review

Button Hoopla Listen

The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey


The Summer of SongbirdsNearly thirty years ago, in the wake of a personal tragedy, June Moore bought Camp Holly Springs and turned it into a thriving summer haven for girls. But now, June is in danger of losing the place she has sacrificed everything for, and begins to realize how much she has used the camp to avoid facing difficulties in her life.

June’s niece, Daphne, met her two best friends, Lanier and Mary Stuart, during a fateful summer at camp. They’ve all helped each other through hard things, from heartbreak and loss to substance abuse and unplanned pregnancy, and the three are inseparable even in their thirties. But when attorney Daphne is confronted with a relationship from her past—and a confidential issue at work becomes personal—she is faced with an impossible choice.

Lanier, meanwhile, is struggling with tough decisions of her own. After a run-in with an old flame, she is torn between the commitment she made to her fiancé and the one she made to her first love. And when a big secret comes to light, she finds herself at odds with her best friend… and risks losing the person she loves most.

But in spite of their personal problems, nothing is more important to these songbirds than Camp Holly Springs. When the women learn their childhood oasis is in danger of closing, they band together to save it, sending them on a journey that promises to open the next chapters in their lives.

From an author whose “writing coats your soul with heart” (E!), The Summer of Songbirds is a lyrical and unforgettable celebration of female friendship, summertime freedom, and enduring sisterhood—and a love letter to the places and people that make us who we are.

“Anyone in the sleepaway camp mood? Now that our kids’ trunks are in their cabins, it’s the perfect time to dive into this beautiful, heartwarming narrative by New York Times bestselling author and southern sensation Kristy Woodson Harvey… [An] ode to female friendship and the places that shape us into who we are.” – Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“Pack up your sleeping bag and flashlight—you’re going to want to escape to Camp Holly Springs as soon as you read the first page of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s engaging and immersive new novel… I’m already looking for an excuse to go to grown-up sleepaway camp!” – Mary Kay Andrews, BookBub

“With a strong dose of nostalgia and multiple narrations from Daphne, Lanier, and June (who has her own revelations about the role Camp Holly Springs has played in her life), the book will appeal to Mary Kay Andrews and Katherine Center fans, who will revel in the support the women demonstrate for one another.” – Tracy Babiasz, Booklist

Thief Liar Lady by D.L. Soria

fiction / fantasy / romance.

Thief Liar LadyI’m not who you think I am.

My transformation from a poor, orphaned scullery maid into the enchantingly mysterious lady who snagged the heart of the prince did not happen–as the rumors insisted–in a magical metamorphosis of pumpkins and glass slippers. On the first evening of the ball, I didn’t meekly help my “evil” stepmother and stepsisters primp and preen or watch forlornly out the window as their carriage rolled off toward the palace. I had other preparations to make.

My stepsisters and I had been trained for this–to be the cleverest in the room, to be quick with our hands and quicker with our lies. We were taught how to get everything we want in this world, everything men always kept for themselves: power, wealth, and prestige. And with a touchingly tragic past and the help of some highly illegal spells, I would become a princess, secure our fortunes, and we would all live happily ever after.

But there’s always more to the story. With my magic running out, war looming, and a handsome hostage prince–the wrong prince–distracting me from my true purpose with his magnetic charm and forbidden flirtations, I’m in danger of losing control of the delicate balance I’ve created… and that could prove fatal.

There’s so much more riding on this than a crown.

“A standout fairy-tale retelling.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Soria’s novel will grab readers right from the first page with her strong women characters and unexpected twists on a classic tale, as it alternates between the present and past, slowly revealing the real story and the depth of the characters. Fans of Marissa Meyer, Holly Black, and Rebecca Ross will enjoy this read.” – Leigh Verburg, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy by Colin Dickey

nonfiction / politics / history.

Under the Eye of PowerThe United States was born in paranoia. From the American Revolution (thought by some to be a conspiracy organized by the French) to the Salem witch trials to the Satanic Panic, the Illuminati, and QAnon, one of the most enduring narratives that defines the United States is simply secret groups are conspiring to pervert the will of the people and the rule of law. We’d like to assume these panics exist only at the fringes of society, or are unique features of the internet age. But history tells us, in fact, that they are woven into the fabric of American democracy.

Cultural historian Colin Dickey has built a career studying how our most irrational beliefs reach the mainstream, why, and what they tell us about ourselves. In Under the Eye of Power, Dickey charts the history of America through its paranoias and fears of secret societies, while seeking to explain why so many people—including some of the most powerful people in the country—continue to subscribe to these conspiracy theories. Paradoxically, he finds, belief in the fantastical and conspiratorial can be more soothing than what we fear the most: the chaos and randomness of history, the rising and falling of fortunes in America, and the messiness of democracy. Only in seeing the cycle of this history, Dickey says, can we break it.

“[A] colorful history of conspiracy theories in the U.S…. [an] engaging book… In an engrossing narrative, Dickey explains how the human search for purpose can become comical, weird, and/or dark.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] gripping examination of America’s continuing embrace of conspiracy theories… This is a vivid and intriguing recontextualization of a misunderstood aspect of American history.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“We can think of no better writer than Colin Dickey… to examine America’s foundational obsession with conspiracy. From Salem to John Birch to Pizzagate, the ‘paranoid style’ has been a part of this country’s identity long before it was given name by John Hofstadter in 1964. But what are we to do when people would rather ascribe their ill fortune to shadowy cabals of powerful puppet masters than the randomness of the universe? For Dickey, the first step is admitting we have a problem.” – Johnny Diamond, Literary Hub

The Vegan by Andrew Lipstein


The VeganHerschel Caine is a soon-to-be master of the universe. His hedge fund, built on the miracle of machine learning, is inches away from systematically extracting obscene profits from the market. His SoHo offices (shoes optional, therapy required) have been fine-tuned to reel in curious investors.

But on the night of May 12, at his elegant Cobble Hill townhouse, he has something else on his mind―the dinner party he and his wife have devised to woo their new A-list neighbors. When the evening fizzles, Herschel indulges in a devilish prank that goes horrifically awry, plunging him into a tailspin of guilt and regret. As Herschel’s tightly constructed world starts to unravel, he clings to the moral clarity he finds in the last place he’d expect: a sudden connection with a neighborhood dog.

A wildly inventive, reality-bending trip, The Vegan holds a mirror up to its reader and poses a question only a hedge fund manager could ask: Is purity a convertible asset? The more Herschel disavows his original sin, and the more it threatens to be revealed, the more it becomes something else entirely―a way into a forgotten world of animals, nature, and life beyond words.

“…engrossing… there’s genuine suspense in Lipstein’s meaty novel of ideas. This is well worth the investment.” – Publishers Weekly

“A topsy-turvy investigation of that most disorienting question: What does it mean to be a good person?” – Kirkus Reviews


Curious how these lists are put together? CLICK HERE!

NOTE: The library does not receive any compensation for links TO OTHER SITES.

Leave a Reply