Best New Books: Week of 8/1/23

“Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.” – Ann Patchett, State of Wonder

Anansi’s Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World by Yepoka Yeebo 

nonfiction / history / true crime.

Anansi's GoldWhen Ghana won its independence from Britain in 1957, it instantly became a target for home-grown opportunists and rapacious Western interests determined to snatch any assets that colonialism hadn’t already stripped. A CIA-funded military junta ousted the new nation’s inspiring president, Kwame Nkrumah, then falsely accused him of hiding the country’s gold overseas.

Into this big lie stepped one of history’s most charismatic scammers, a con man to rival the trickster god Anansi. Born into poverty in Ghana and trained in the United States, John Ackah Blay-Miezah declared himself custodian of an alleged Nkrumah trust fund worth billions. You, too, could claim a piece–if only you would “invest” in Blay-Miezah’s fictitious efforts to release the equally fictitious fund. Over the 1970s and ’80s, he and his accomplices-including Ghanaian state officials and Nixon’s former attorney general–scammed hundreds of millions of dollars out of thousands of believers. Blay-Miezah lived in luxury, deceiving Philadelphia lawyers, London financiers, and Seoul businessmen alike, all while eluding his FBI pursuers. American prosecutors called his scam “one of the most fascinating–and lucrative–in modern history.”

In Anansi’s Gold, Yepoka Yeebo chases Blay-Miezah’s ever-wilder trail and discovers, at long last, what really happened to Ghana’s missing wealth. She unfolds a riveting account of Cold War entanglements, international finance, and postcolonial betrayal, revealing how what we call “history” writes itself into being, one lie at a time.

“Reading Anansi’s Gold is like watching a heist movie… all about improvisation, unforced error, unlikely escape.” – Dan Piepenbring, Harper’s

“[An] incredible story, told with muscular acerbity and populated by secondary characters as compelling as the leading man… Utterly absorbing.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Journalist Yeebo brilliantly illuminates the stranger-than-fiction career of Ghanaian fraudster John Ackah Blay-Miezah (1941–1992) in this thrilling true-crime account… Yeebo’s details and research are beyond meticulous, and she spins her central con artist into a charismatic lead. This is perfect for fans of Frank Abignale Jr.’s Catch Me If You Can.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Apology by Jimin Han 

fiction / historical fiction / fantasy.

The ApologyIn South Korea, a 105-year-old woman receives a letter. Ten days later, she has been thrust into the afterlife, fighting to head off a curse that will otherwise devastate generations to come.

Jeonga Cha has always shouldered the burden of upholding the family name. When she sent her daughter-in-law to America to cover up an illegitimate birth, she was simply doing what was needed to preserve the reputations of her loved ones. How could she have known that decades later, this decision would return to haunt her—threatening to tear apart her bond with her beloved son, her relationship with her infuriatingly insolent sisters, and the future of the family she has worked so hard to protect?

Part ghost story and part family epic, The Apology is an incisive tale of sisterhood and diaspora, reaching back to the days of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War, and told through the singular voice of a defiant, funny, and unforgettable centenarian.

“…unforgettable… you won’t stop thinking about this lovable curmudgeon and her journey to make things right for weeks after you’ve finished this book.” – Barnes & Noble

“[A] great novel to read if you ever wanted, say, more novels from Iris Murdoch.” – Alexander Chee, The Millions

“Han delivers a satisfying tale with vivid relationships that will keep readers curious about this complex family shaped by war, loyalty, class-consciousness, and love.” – Annie Tully, Booklist

“Jeonga Cha is a wholly original character… While such a plot could have been the stuff of tragedy, Han mines the material largely for its comic potential. Whether dead or alive, Jeonga is a larger-than-life character, stubborn, judgmental, always active… The Apology is an imaginative work that draws upon traditional Korean Buddhist beliefs about the afterlife to explore the long-term consequences of decisions made under the value system of a different era.” – May-lee Chai, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Bring Me Your Midnight by Rachel Griffin

fiction / young adult / fantasy / romance.

Bring Me Your MidnightTana Fairchild’s fate has never been in question. Her life has been planned out since the moment she was born: she is to marry the governor’s son, Landon, and secure an unprecedented alliance between the witches of her island home and the mainlanders who see her very existence as a threat.

Tana’s coven has appeased those who fear their power for years by releasing most of their magic into the ocean during the full moon. But when Tana misses the midnight ritual—a fatal mistake—there is no one she can turn to for help… until she meets Wolfe.

Wolfe claims he is from a coven that practices dark magic, making him one of the only people who can help her. But he refuses to let Tana’s power rush into the sea, and instead teaches her his forbidden magic. A magic that makes her feel powerful. Alive.

As the sea grows more violent, her coven loses control of the currents, a danger that could destroy the alliance as well as her island. Tana will have to choose between love and duty, between loyalty to her people and loyalty to her heart. Marrying Landon would secure peace for her coven but losing Wolfe and his wild magic could cost her everything else.

“Griffin crafts a richly detailed world that leaves vivid sensory impressions… will keep pages turning right to the end… A subtly magical and romantic story of personal growth.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Ethereal worldbuilding and affecting allegories championing environmental stewardship, honesty, pride, and self-expression further enrich Griffin’s feel-good tale.” – Publishers Weekly

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Confessions of a Canine Drama Queen by Stefanie London

fiction / romance.

Confessions of a Canine Drama QueenCan you ever really forget the one who got away?

August Merriweather has always been good with animals. In fact, she’s known as Manhattan’s Dog Whisperer. Men, on the other hand? Not so much. She’s been falling for the wrong guys ever since her regrettable crush on Keaton Sax, older brother of her best friend, Leah, and the biggest jerkface this side of the Hudson.

Now an emotionally closed off widower, Keaton has become one of the most formidable men on Wall Street, but August knows his secret. He’s not driven by sales targets and bonus checks—Keaton just wants to give his family the security they never had. So when Leah asks Keaton to wrangle her over-the-top, dramatic husky at a weekend talent competition, Keaton says yes… and begs August to help him win the event for Leah.

Between obstacle courses, Molly’s husky temper tantrums and a cabin with just one bed, August is having a blast. Away from the pressure to have a “perfect life” with the “right guy,” she finds herself relaxing and getting to see the softer side of the man she once loved. Is this just a temporary truce? Or could Keaton finally be the right guy at the right time?

“Who doesn’t love dogs and romance books?” – Silvana Reyes Lopez, Book Riot

“[The] romance is just as adorable as the misbehaving canines who often steal the show. It’s a worthy series finale.” – Publishers Weekly

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The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange


The Connellys of County DownWhen Tara Connelly is released from prison after serving eighteen months on a drug charge, she knows rebuilding her life at thirty years old won’t be easy. With no money and no prospects, she returns home to live with her siblings, who are both busy with their own problems. Her brother, a single dad, struggles with the ongoing effects of a brain injury he sustained years ago, and her sister’s fragile facade of calm and order is cracking under the burden of big secrets. Life becomes even more complicated when the cop who put her in prison keeps showing up unannounced, leaving Tara to wonder what he wants from her now.

While she works to build a new career and hold her family together, Tara finds a chance at love in a most unlikely place. But when the Connellys’ secrets start to unravel and threaten her future, they all must face their worst fears and come clean, or risk losing each other forever.

The Connellys of County Down is a moving novel about testing the bounds of love and loyalty. It explores the possibility of beginning our lives anew, and reveals the pitfalls of shielding each other from the bitter truth.

“Lange’s strong followup to her debut, We Are the Brennans, explores how family dynamics are both created and sustained.” – Laura Chanoux, Booklist

“…moving… Tara is a flawed heroine worth rooting for and her romance with Brian an affecting one. Like Stewart O’Nan, the author conjures human moments with a convincing naturalistic style. This emotionally charged story delivers the goods.” – Publishers Weekly

“With compassion and insight, [Lange] explores the loyalties and frustrations that ebb and flow among siblings, especially those who have suffered trauma, and she reminds us that no matter how deep the wound, it’s always possible to follow your heart. A compassionate look at family dynamics and a reminder that it’s never too late to heal.” – Kirkus Reviews

Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine

fiction / horror / suspense / mystery.

Delicate ConditionAnna Alcott is desperate to be pregnant. But as she tries to balance her increasingly public life with a grueling IVF journey, she starts to suspect that someone is going to great lengths to make sure her pregnancy never happens. Crucial medicines are lost. Appointments get swapped without her knowledge. And even when she finally manages to get pregnant, not even her husband is willing to believe that someone’s playing a twisted game with her.

When the increasingly cryptic threats drive her out of her Brooklyn brownstone and into hiding in the cold, gray ghost town that is the Hamptons in the depths of winter, Anna is almost at the end of her rope.

Then her doctor tells her she’s had a miscarriage—except Anna’s convinced she’s still pregnant, despite everything the grave-faced men around her claim. Could it be that her mind is playing tricks on her? Or is something more sinister at play? As her symptoms become ever more horrifying and the sense of danger ever more present, Anna can’t help but wonder what exactly she’s carrying inside of her… and why no one will listen when she says something is horribly, painfully wrong.

“Readers will devour the book to find out what’s going on.” – Jane Murphy, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This story carries a sense of unnerving suspense. It’s tough to put down, no matter how much you want to look away. Disorienting, scary and riveting — exactly what we look for in a thriller.” – Barnes & Noble

“Dreams of motherhood turn to nightmares in this unflinching adult debut… Valentine successfully mines pregnancy’s horrors for dramatic effect while condemning condescension toward, and ignorance of, women’s struggles with fertility and childbearing. It adds up to a fiercely feminist millennial heir to Rosemary’s Baby.” – Publishers Weekly

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Dragons of Fate by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

fiction / fantasy.

Dragons of FateA clash of powerful magical forces sets off the Graygem of Gargath, sending Destina and her companions deeper into the past than she intended—to the age of Huma Dragonsbane and the Third Dragon War. Now, after the Device of Time Journeying shatters, they must find another way back to their own era, before the Graygem alters history irrevocably and the Third Dragon War ends in defeat for the forces of good.

With the battle raging on, Destina tries desperately to make amends and prevent disaster. Raistlin and Sturm encounter their heroes, Huma and Magius, and must reconcile the myths with the men. Meanwhile, Tasslehoff—shocked that the Knights of Solamnia have never heard of dragonlances—sets out to find the famed weapons.

But as the forces of the Dark Queen close in on the High Clerist’s Tower, Destina’s party must return to their own timeline together—or not at all.

“…powerful…” – Charlie Hall, Polygon

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

fiction / historical fiction / fantasy.

The Embroidered Book“Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all.”

1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

“[An] entertaining and dark read.” – Stylist

“…lush and enchanting… fans of historical novels looking for just a touch of the fantastic are sure to be sucked in.” – Publishers Weekly

“[An] absorbing novel… Heartfield sustains a fine balance between history and fantasy.” – Lisa Tuttle, The Guardian

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Evergreen by Naomi Hirahara

fiction / historical fiction / mystery.

EvergreenIt’s been two years since Aki Ito and her family were released from Manzanar detention center and resettled in Chicago with other Japanese Americans. Now the Itos have finally been allowed to return home to California—but nothing is as they left it. The entire Japanese American community is starting from scratch, with thousands of people living in dismal refugee camps while they struggle to find new houses and jobs in over-crowded Los Angeles.

Aki is working as a nurse’s aide at the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights when an elderly Issei man is admitted with suspicious injuries. When she seeks out his son, she is shocked to recognize her husband’s best friend, Babe Watanabe. Could Babe be guilty of elder abuse?

Only a few days later, Little Tokyo is rocked by a murder at the low-income hotel where the Watanabes have been staying. When the cops start sniffing around Aki’s home, she begins to worry that the violence tearing through her community might threaten her family. What secrets have the Watanabes been hiding, and can Aki protect her husband from getting tangled up in a murder investigation?

“[A] beautifully crafted novel… A thought-provoking noir with a searing period flavor.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Hirahara’s Clark and Division was one of the more accomplished crime novels in recent memory, and this year she’s following it up with Evergreen… [The novel] dives into the shadows of Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo to tell a story about one of the darker chapters of American history. With these books focused on the Japanese-American experience of post-WWII America, Hirahara has found a pivotal subject and brought her immense talents to bear.” – Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads

“Once again, Hirahara illuminates the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II by embodying them in the lives of the Ito family. The author weaves a compelling tale, which is all the more poignant as it reminds readers of the shameful treatment of Japanese Americans, along with the racial prejudice still at work. A must-read.” – Julie Ciccarelli, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo 


Family LoreFlor has a gift: she can predict, to the day, when someone will die. So when she decides she wants a living wake–a party to bring her family and community together to celebrate the long life she’s led–her sisters are surprised. Has Flor forseen her own death, or someone else’s? Does she have other motives? She refuses to tell her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila.

But Flor isn’t the only person with secrets. Matilde has tried for decades to cover the extent of her husband’s infidelity, but she must now confront the true state of her marriage. Pastora is typically the most reserved sister, but Flor’s wake motivates this driven woman to solve her sibling’s problems. Camila is the youngest sibling, and often the forgotten one, but she’s decided she no longer wants to be taken for granted.

And the next generation, cousins Ona and Yadi, face tumult of their own: Yadi is reuniting with her first love, who was imprisoned when they were both still kids; Ona is married for years and attempting to conceive. Ona must decide whether it’s worth it to keep trying–to have a child, and the anthropology research that’s begun to feel lackluster.

Spanning the three days prior to the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of each of the Marte women, weaving together past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City. Told with Elizabeth Acevedo’s inimitable and incandescent voice, this is an indelible portrait of sisters and cousins, aunts and nieces–one family’s journey through their history, helping them better navigate all that is to come.

“Acevedo’s novel starring a spunky narrator will enchant both fans and new readers.” – Sara Martinez, Booklist

“…Elizabeth Acevedo tackles some of life’s biggest questions with the vivacity and empathy readers know from her young adult novels.” – Halie LeSavage, Harper’s Bazaar

“…enchanting… Family Lore beautifully explore[s] themes of sister- and motherhood, family secrets, and the power of defining your life’s purpose and meaning.” – Arianna Rebolini, Bustle

“…Acevedo is brilliant at portraying the women’s love and loyalty for one another. The author’s fans will eat this up.” – Publishers Weekly

Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Gone TonightCatherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother. Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All her life, it’s been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, move from home, and begin a new career. And Ruth Sterling will do anything to prevent that from happening.

Ruth Sterling thinks she knows her daughter. Catherine would never rebel, would never question anything about her mother’s past or background. But when Ruth’s desperate quest to keep her daughter by her side begins to reveal cracks in Ruth’s carefully-constructed world, both mother and daughter begin a dance of deception.

“Your heart will race until the final page.” – Emily Liebert, Westport Magazine

“…deliciously chilling… Pekkanen’s enthralling pace will have listeners making every excuse to reach the eerie, shocking ending.” – Terry Hong, Booklist

“Sarah Pekkanen’s startling, breathtaking tale of a mother and daughter will plunge you into a plot layered by lies and trauma but still infused with love. Through deft writing and thoughtful character development, she’s created a fast-paced thriller in Gone Tonight, daring to ask deep questions about love versus fear, and control versus protection.” – Leandra Beabout, Readers Digest

Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Just Another Missing Person22-year-old Olivia has been missing for one day… and counting. She was last seen on CCTV, entering a dead-end alley. And not coming back out again.

Julia, the detective heading up the search for Olivia, thinks she knows what to expect. A desperate family, a ticking clock, and long hours away from her husband and daughter. But she has no idea just how close to home this case is going to get.

Because the criminal at the heart of the disappearance has something she never expected. His weapon isn’t a gun, or a knife: it’s a secret. Her worst one. And her family’s safety depends on one thing: Julia must NOT find out what happened to Olivia – and must frame somebody else for her murder.

If you find her, you will lose everything. What would you do?

This clever and endlessly surprising thriller is laced with a smart look at family and motherhood, and cements Gillian McAllister as a major talent in the world of suspense and a master of creating ethical dilemmas that show just how murky the distinction between right and wrong can be.

“[A] twist-a-minute thriller… Julia’s struggle with her internal morals is particularly compelling. Fans of Alice Feeney and Ruth Ware will be glued to the pages.” – Cari Dubiel, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] twisty exploration of professional and familial responsibility, the anonymity of the internet, and the slippery slope to criminality… Julia holds her own as a character; her moral quandary is completely believable, and her struggles to do the right thing, at work and in her relationships, render her understandably human.” – Kirkus Reviews

Kiss the Girl by Zoraida Córdova

fiction / romance.

Kiss the GirlAriel del Mar is one of the most famous singers in the world. She and her sisters—together, known as the band Siren Seven—have been a pop culture phenomenon since they were kids. On stage, wearing her iconic red wig and sequined costumes, staring out at a sea of fans, is where she shines. Anyone would think she’s the girl who has everything.

But lately, she wants more. Siren Seven is wrapping up their farewell tour, and Ariel can’t wait to spend the summer just living a normal life—part of a world she’s only ever seen from the outside. But her father, the head of Atlantica Records, has other plans: begin her breakout solo career immediately, starting with a splashy announcement on a morning talk show.

The night before, Ariel and her sisters sneak out of their Manhattan penthouse for a night of incognito fun at a rock concert in Brooklyn. It’s there that Ariel crosses paths with Eric Reyes, dreamy lead singer of an up-and-coming band. Unaware of her true identity, Eric spontaneously invites her on the road for the summer. And for the first time in her life, Ariel disobeys her father—and goes with him.

Caught between the world she longs for and the one she’s left behind, can Ariel follow her dreams, fall in love, and, somehow, find her own voice?

“Córdova puts her own clever, marvelously enchanting spin on The Little Mermaid, while at the same time gifting readers a sweet love story with just a hint of spice that joyfully celebrates the power of love and music in our lives.” – John Charles, Booklist

“…plentiful romance and humor make this worthwhile. Readers will have no trouble cheering on Ariel and Eric.” – Publishers Weekly

“…Córdova hits all the right notes with sweet characters and the interesting angle of a pop star who has never had control or choices.” – Nicole J. Suarez, Library Journal

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The Men Can’t Be Saved by Ben Purkert

fiction / comedy.

The Men Can't Be SavedSeth is a junior copywriter whose latest tagline just went viral. He’s the agency’s hottest new star, or at least he wants his coworker crush to think so. But while he’s busy drooling over his future corner office, the walls crumble around him.

When his job lets him go, he can’t let go of his job. Thankfully, one former colleague can’t let him go either: Robert “Moon” McCloone, a skeezy on-the-rise exec better suited to a frat house than a boardroom. Seth tries to forget Moon and rediscover his spiritual self; he studies Kabbalah with an Orthodox rabbi by day while popping illegal prescription pills by night. But with each misstep, Seth strays farther from salvation—though he might get there, if he could only get out of his own way.

In his debut novel, Purkert incisively peels back the layers of the male ego, revealing what’s rotten and what might be redeemed. Brimming with wit, irreverence, and soul-searching, The Men Can’t Be Saved is a startlingly original examination of work, sex, addiction, religion, branding, and ourselves.

“A laugh-out-loud romp about masculinity, sex, and obsession. This is a hilarious expose about how society views working hard. Purkert cuts deep and his prose leaps off the page.” – Adam, Debutiful

“[A] smart satire… he finely wrought prose and spot-on descriptions are undeniable… This is great fun.” – Publishers Weekly

“[Purkert’s] forebears are the likes of Teddy Wayne, Joshua Ferris, Sam Lipsyte and Gary Shteyngart, all of whom have written brash and funny satires of family, workplaces and masculinity gone off the rails. That crowd of Gen X writers were in turn inspired by the schlemiel-like heroes of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth… [Purkert is] a sharply funny observer of male foibles, 20-something angst, and the modern workplace.” – Mark Athitakis, Washington Post

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Mexikid by Pedro Martín

nonfiction / graphic novel / memoir.

MexikidPedro Martín has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito—his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! But that doesn’t mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has 8 brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough! Still, Pedro piles into the Winnebago with his family for a road trip to Mexico to bring Abuelito home, and what follows is the trip of a lifetime, one filled with laughs and heartache. Along the way, Pedro finally connects with his abuelito and learns what it means to grow up and find his grito.

“Equal parts hilarious and tear-jerking moments abound, rendered in a cartoon style with vibrant color palettes that shift depending on the sequence’s tone. This artistically inventive read, which teems with lively characters and emotion, is a joy to behold.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Full of humor, heart, and a decent amount of gross-out moments, Martín’s coming-of-age memoir hits all the right notes… A retro yet timeless story of family and identity.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“There’s much to savor here, from the thoughtful exploration of bicultural identity to the good-natured snarky teasing of siblings to pivotal moments of growth amid guileless kidhood. It’s a tightrope balancing act of antic humor and genuine pathos, and Martín pulls it off with tremendous flair.” – Sarah Hunter, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Mobility by Lydia Kiesling

fiction / historical fiction.

MobilityThe year is 1998, the End of History. The Soviet Union is dissolved, the Cold War is over, and Bunny Glenn is an American teenager in Azerbaijan with her Foreign Service family. Through Bunny’s eyes we watch global interests flock to the former Soviet Union during the rush for Caspian oil and pipeline access, hear rumbles of the expansion of the American security state and the buildup to the War on Terror. We follow Bunny from adolescence to middle age—from Azerbaijan to America—as the entwined idols of capitalism and ambition lead her to a career in the oil industry, and eventually back to the scene of her youth, where familiar figures reappear in an era of political and climate breakdown.

Both geopolitical exploration and domestic coming-of-age novel, Mobility is a propulsive and challenging story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman—her social milieu, her romances, her unarticulated wants. Mobility deftly explores American forms of complicity and inertia, moving between the local and the global, the personal and the political, and using fiction’s power to illuminate the way a life is shaped by its context.

“[An] impressively original contribution to the emerging literature of climate change.” – Publishers Weekly

“Genuinely a brilliant book, the best piece of motherhood literature I’ve read this year, and a perfectly urgent summer read for a 110-degree day.” – Janet Manley, Literary Hub

“[An] emotionally and geopolitically savvy coming-of-age story… Mobility is in large part an object lesson about the cost of… self-delusion, which makes it a fresh experiment in political fiction.” – Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times

“Lydia Kiesling writes beautifully and rigorously about the rotten systems that ensnare her characters and the many imperfect ways in which they try to free themselves. Mobility’s Bunny Glenn is a complicated heroine for the ages, a striver who values the comforts of her oil-industry job even as she must reckon with the fact that the world is quite literally on fire.” – Maris Kreizman, Vulture

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My Name Is Iris by Brando Skyhorse

fiction / science fiction / suspense.

My Name Is IrisIris Prince is starting over. After years of drifting apart, she and her husband are going through a surprisingly drama-free divorce. She’s moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and has plans for gardening, coffee clubs, and spending more time with her nine-year-old daughter Melanie. It feels like her life is finally exactly what she wants it to be.

Then, one beautiful morning, she looks outside her kitchen window—and sees that a wall has appeared in her front yard overnight. Where did it come from? What does it mean? And why does it seem to keep growing?

Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup has launched a high-tech wrist wearable called “the Band.” Pitched as a convenient, eco-friendly tool to help track local utilities and replace driver’s licenses and IDs, the Band is available only to those who can prove parental citizenship. Suddenly, Iris, a proud second-generation Mexican-American, is now of “unverifiable origin,” unable to prove who she is, or where she, and her undocumented loved ones, belong. Amid a climate of fear and hate-fueled violence, Iris must confront how far she’ll go to protect what matters to her most.

My Name Is Iris is an all-too-possible story about family, intolerance, and hope, offering a brilliant and timely look at one woman’s journey to discover who she can’t—and can—be.

“[A] chilling near-reality dystopian novel… In addition to being an engrossing, discomfiting tale, this will make an excellent book club selection and fuel for tough conversations.” – Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness

“The horror here is that Iris’ experiences are so recognizable and plausible.” – Poornima Apte, Booklist

My Name Is Iris offers a sharp vision of how racism gets imbibed by its victims like a sweet poison… Could there be a more incisive diagnosis of our era?… As Skyhorse’s clever satire accelerates into a truly terrifying thriller, the most insidious functions of racism appear illuminated in an eerie new light… Brilliant.” – Ron Charles, Washington Post

The Narrow by Kate Alice Marshall

fiction / young adult / horror / mystery.

The NarrowEveryone has heard the story of the Narrow. The river that runs behind the Atwood School is only a few feet across and seemingly placid, but beneath the surface, the waters are deep and vicious. It’s said that no one who has fallen in has ever survived.

Eden White knows that isn’t true. Six years ago, she saw Delphine Fournier fall into the Narrow—and live.

Delphine now lives in careful isolation, sealed off from the world. Even a single drop of unpurified water could be deadly to her, and no one but Eden has any idea why. Eden has never told anyone what she saw or spoken to Delphine since, but now, unable to cover her tuition, she has to make a deal: her expenses will be paid in return for serving as a live-in companion to Delphine.

Eden finds herself drawn to the strange and mysterious girl, and the two of them begin to unravel each other’s secrets. Then Eden discovers what happened to the last girl who lived with Delphine: she was found half-drowned on dry land. Suddenly Eden is waking up to wet footprints tracking to the end of her bed, the sound of rain on the windows when the skies are clear, and a ghostly silhouette in her doorway. Something is haunting Delphine—and now it’s coming for Eden, too.

“Kate Alice Marshall has crafted a tautly plotted and emotionally sophisticated story which combines spooky fantastical elements with a more grounded examination of human relationships in all their flawed glory.” – The Nerd Daily

“Ghosts, secrets, lies, and loyalty… Haunting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] chilling tale… readers will become immersed in Delphine’s and Eden’s nightmarish experiences and their deepening relationship. Those who enjoy puzzling mysteries and supernatural suspense will devour this haunting tale.” – Sarah Rosenberger-Svarda, BookPage

Ravensong by TJ Klune

fiction / fantasy / romance.

RavensongGordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves. It should have been enough. And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them. But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within. Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

“…incredible… TJ Klune is a master with words… So highly recommended I don’t even have words for it.” – Annika, Love Bytes

“TJ Klune is a wonderfully talented writer… Ravensong is dark and complicated and heavy, but it’s also full of light and love and laughs. Mr. Klune has a wonderful way with awkward, funny dialogue and with how he handles the various bonds and relationships between members of the Bennett pack… an engaging and worthy addition to the Green Creek series.” – Em Wittmann, All About Romance

The Roommate Pact by Allison Ashley

fiction / romance.

The Roommate PactThe proposition is simple: if ER nurse Claire Harper and her roommate, firefighter Graham Scott, are still single by the time they’re forty, they’ll take the proverbial plunge together… as friends with benefits. Maybe it’s the wine, but in the moment, Claire figures the pact is a safe-enough deal, considering she hasn’t had much luck in love and he’s in no rush to settle down. Like, at all. Besides, there’s no way she could ever really fall for Graham and his thrill-seeking ways. Not after what happened to her father…

Just as things begin to heat up way before the proposed deadline, Graham’s injured in a serious rock-climbing accident—and he needs Claire’s help to heal. She’ll do whatever it takes to nurse him back to health… even if it means moving into Graham’s bed and putting up with his little dog who hates her. But with this no-strings arrangement taking a complicated turn, keeping “for now” from turning into “forever” isn’t as easy as they’d planned.

“…fun and sexy, heartfelt and touching, and the chemistry is out of this world.” – One Book More

“…puts a cute spin on the friends-with-benefits trope… Claire and Graham’s chemistry jumps off the page, and Ashley surrounds them with charming friends… Friends-to-lovers fans are sure to be pleased.” – Publishers Weekly

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Small Town Sins by Ken Jaworowski

fiction / suspense / mystery.

Small Town SinsIn Locksburg, Pennsylvania, a former coal and steel town whose best days seem long past, five thousand residents have toughed it out, and have reasons for both worry and hope as this neglected place teeters between decay and renewal. For some of them, their biggest troubles have just arrived.

After years of just scraping by, three restless souls have their lives upended: Nathan, a volunteer fireman who uncovers a secret stash of money in a burning building and takes it; Callie, a nurse whose tender patient may not have long to live, despite the girl’s fundamentalist parents’ ardent beliefs; and Andy, a recovering heroin addict who undertakes a nightmare mission to hunt down and stop a serial predator.

Before long, Nathan’s stolen riches threaten to destroy everyone around him as he tries to cover his haphazard trail of lies. Callie risks her career to grant her young patient a final, and likely illegal, wish. And Andy’s hunger for vigilante justice becomes a fierce obsession that may end in violence.

As their stories barrel toward unexpected ends, Nathan, Callie, and Andy struggle to endure—or escape. They each face their pasts and gamble on their futures, and confront the underside of their rough Rust Belt town. Riveting, evocative, and unforgettable, Small Town Sins is a debut novel that marks the arrival of a major new talent.

“…suspenseful… A satisfying thriller with finely drawn, highly sympathetic characters.” – Kirkus Reviews

Small Town Sins is a brilliant first novel. Disturbing, dark, twisted, and believable, it fits well into the American crime fiction tradition… easy to recommend to fans of the genre.” – Warner Holme, Mystery & Suspense

New York Times editor Jaworowski shines in his artful debut… Jaworowski skillfully toggles between his plot threads, never sacrificing character development for cheap thrills. Admirers of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan will be eager for more from this talented storyteller.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Time’s Mouth by Edan Lepucki

fiction / fantasy / historical fiction.

Time's MouthUrsa possesses a very special gift. She can travel through memory and revisit her past. After she flees her hometown for the counterculture glory of 1950’s California, the intoxicating potential of her unique ability eventually draws a group of women into her orbit and into a ramshackle Victorian mansion in the woods outside Santa Cruz. Yet Ursa’s powers come with a cost. Soon this cultish community of sisterhood takes an ominous turn, prompting her son, Ray, and his pregnant lover, Cherry, to flee their home for Los Angeles and reinvent themselves far from Ursa’s insidious influence. But escaping their past won’t be so easy. A series of mysterious events forces Cherry to abandon their baby, leaving Ray to raise Opal alone.

Now a teenager and still heartbroken over the abandonment of the mother she never knew, Opal must journey into her own past to reveal the generations of secrets that gave rise to the shimmering source of her family’s painful legacy.

From the forests of Santa Cruz, to the 1980s glam of Melrose Avenue to a solitary mansion among the oil derricks off La Cienega Boulevard, and brimming with the double-edged capacity of memory to both heal and harm, Time’s Mouth is a poignant and evocative excavation of the bonds that bind families together.

“A beautifully original piece of fiction… California in the second half of the 20th century stands out as a distinctive character, the perfect backdrop for a truly far-out tale. Quite distinct from other books on the shelf, a fabulous new release.” – Page Berger, Darien Neighbors Magazine

“[A] time-travel story that feels shatteringly real… it’s both gripping and moving, and promises at least one burst of cathartic tears.” – Lily Meyer, NPR

“Spanning decades and tracking the evolution of, and recovery from, intergenerational trauma, Time’s Mouth is a dreamy, heartfelt tearjerker.” – Arianna Rebolini, Bustle

“This moving portrait of three generations of a California family comes with a twist that literally kicks it into another dimension: Some characters can time-travel to earlier parts of their lives. Slipping these uncanny episodes seamlessly into a vivid portrait of life at a woodland women’s commune in the ’70s, and in a single-parent household in the ’90s, Lepucki traces the consequences of damaged mothering but gifts her characters—and readers—a deeply satisfying emotional finale.” – Oprah Daily

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett


Tom LakeIn the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

“A swoony, luminous reminder about the endurance of love and happiness in a broken world.” – Oprah Daily

“Poignant and reflective, cementing Patchett’s stature as one of our finest novelists.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Who is better, more nuanced, or more surprising on matters of love and family than Patchett?… [a] heady voyage into the past, with a delicately observed story that is also constantly shifting the ground beneath our feet.” – Dwyer Murphy, Literary Hub

“As this spellbinding and incisive novel unspools, Patchett brings every turn of mind and every setting to glorious, vibrant life, gracefully contrasting the dazzle of the ephemeral with the gravitas of the timeless, perceiving in cherries sweet and tart reflections of love and loss.” – Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean by Susan Casey

nonfiction / science / nature.

The UnderworldFor all of human history, the deep ocean has been a source of wonder and terror, an unknown realm that evoked a singular, compelling question: What’s down there? Unable to answer this for centuries, people believed the deep was a sinister realm of fiendish creatures and deadly peril. But now, cutting-edge technologies allow scientists and explorers to dive miles beneath the surface, and we are beginning to understand this strange and exotic underworld: A place of soaring mountains, smoldering volcanoes, and valleys 7,000 feet deeper than Everest is high, where tectonic plates collide and separate, and extraordinary life forms operate under different rules. Far from a dark void, the deep is a vibrant realm that’s home to pink gelatinous predators and shimmering creatures a hundred feet long and ancient animals with glass skeletons and sharks that live for half a millennium—among countless other marvels.

Susan Casey is our premiere chronicler of the aquatic world. For The Underworld she traversed the globe, joining scientists and explorers on dives to the deepest places on the planet, interviewing the marine geologists, marine biologists, and oceanographers who are searching for knowledge in this vast unseen realm. She takes us on a fascinating journey through the history of deep-sea exploration, from the myths and legends of the ancient world to storied shipwrecks we can now reach on the bottom, to the first intrepid bathysphere pilots, to the scientists who are just beginning to understand the mind-blowing complexity and ecological importance of the quadrillions of creatures who live in realms long thought to be devoid of life.

Throughout this journey, she learned how vital the deep is to the future of the planet, and how urgent it is that we understand it in a time of increasing threats from climate change, industrial fishing, pollution, and the mining companies that are also exploring its depths. The Underworld is Susan Casey’s most beautiful and thrilling book yet, a gorgeous evocation of the natural world and a powerful call to arms.

“…fascinating… Readers will be thrilled by the author’s descriptions of truly bizarre sights and creatures as well as dazzling archaeological treasures… Space exploration gets the headlines, but Casey makes a convincing case that the deep ocean is more interesting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[An] entertaining account… wondrous… Casey excels at conjuring the ‘marvelous weirdos’ that glide through submersibles’ beam.” – Amy Brady, Scientific American

“In her latest release, Casey immerses the reader in the science and history of deep-sea exploration… Casey’s thrilling account of the wonders to be found on the ocean floor will captivate readers.” – Maren Ostergard, Booklist

Valiant Women: The Extraordinary American Servicewomen Who Helped Win World War II by Lena Andrews

nonfiction / history / biography.

Valiant WomenValiant Women is the story of the 350,000 American women who served in uniform during World War II. These incredible women served in every service branch, in every combat theater, and in nearly two-thirds of the available military occupations at the time. They were pilots, codebreakers, ordnance experts, gunnery instructors, metalsmiths, chemists, translators, parachute riggers, truck drivers, radarmen, pigeon trainers, and much more. They were directly involved in some of the most important moments of the war, from the D-Day landings to the peace negotiations in Paris. These women—who hailed from every race, creed, and walk of life—died for their country and received the nation’s highest honors. Their work, both individually and in total, was at the heart of the Allied strategy that won World War II.

Yet, until now, their stories have been relegated to the dusty shelves of military archives or a passing mention in the local paper. Often the women themselves kept their stories private, even from their own families. Now, military analyst Lena Andrews corrects the record with the definitive and comprehensive historical account of American servicewomen during World War II, based on new archival research, firsthand interviews with surviving veterans, and a deep professional understanding of military history and strategy.

The story of military women in World War II is, at its core, the story of World War II itself. If we want to understand this war, Andrews argues, then we must know its women.

“An invaluable addition to our knowledge of the Allied victory.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Binge-able and easily approachable for those new to the subject, this book is perfect for WWII buffs and readers of history, military history, women’s history, and feminist nonfiction.” – Kathleen Townsend, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Through interviews with the few servicewomen still alive and comprehensive research, Andrews takes an ingenious look at WWII ‘in a different way.’ It’s a must-read for women’s and military history buffs.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

What Never Happened by Rachel Howzell Hall

fiction / suspense / mystery.

What Never HappenedColette “Coco” Weber has relocated to her Catalina Island home, where, twenty years before, she was the sole survivor of a deadly home invasion. All Coco wants is to see her aunt Gwen, get as far away from her ex as possible, and get back to her craft—writing obituaries. Thankfully, her college best friend, Maddy, owns the local paper and has a job sure to keep Coco busy, considering the number of elderly folks who are dying on the island.

But as Coco learns more about these deaths, she quickly realizes that the circumstances surrounding them are remarkably similar…and not natural. Then Coco receives a sinister threat in the mail: her own obituary.

As Coco begins to draw connections between a serial killer’s crimes and her own family tragedy, she fears that the secrets on Catalina Island might be too deep to survive. Because whoever is watching her is hell-bent on finally putting her past to rest.

“A character-rich, sleep-depriving thriller.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A solid psychological thriller, with many twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.” – Red Carpet Crash

“Full of family drama, murder, and even some romance, it has a little something for everybody.” – Ava Fearn, The Sistah Girl Next Door

Witness: Stories by Jamel Brinkley


WitnessWhat does it mean to take action? To bear witness? What does it cost?

In these ten stories, each set in the changing landscapes of contemporary New York City, a range of characters–from children to grandmothers to ghosts–live through the responsibility of perceiving and the moral challenge of speaking up or taking action. Though they strive to connect, to remember, to stand up for, and to really see each other, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape not only their own futures but the legacies and prospects of their families and their city.

In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, the meaning of home, Witness enacts its own testimony. Here is a world where fortunes can be made and stolen in just a few generations, where strangers might sometimes show kindness while those we trust–doctors, employers, siblings–too often turn away, where joy comes in snatches: flowers on a windowsill, dancing in the street, glimpsing your purpose, change on the horizon.

With prose as upendingly beautiful as it is artfully, seamlessly crafted, Jamel Brinkley offers nothing less than the full scope of life and death and change in the great, unending drama of the city.

“Exceptional… [Witness journeys] deep into the human heart with precise language and a generous spirit.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“…dazzling… Brinkley crafts unforgettable portraits, humming with barely restrained tension… These intimate vignettes have the power to move readers.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…one of the finest young writers working today… Brinkley is a skilled, patient prose stylist and deft writer of character who isn’t afraid to engage with the difficult moral complexity of contemporary life. Reading Witness will make you consider your place in the world as both a bystander and a participant.” – Isle McElroy, Vulture

“Short stories that in their depth of feeling, perception, and sense of place affirm their author’s bright promise… After just two collections, Brinkley may already be a grand master of the short story.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW


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