I'm Not Done With You Yet

Best New Books: Week of 8/22/23

“Sometimes it is easier to see the light when you stand partly in the darkness.” – Garth Nix, Mister Monday

After That Night by Karin Slaughter

fiction / suspense / mystery.

After That NightAfter that night, nothing was ever the same again

Fifteen years ago, Sara Linton’s life changed forever when a celebratory night out ended in a violent attack that tore her world apart. Since then, Sara has remade her life. A successful doctor, engaged to a man she loves, she has finally managed to leave the past behind her.

Until one evening, on call in the ER, everything changes. Sara battles to save a broken young woman who’s been brutally attacked. But as the investigation progresses, led by GBI Special Agent Will Trent, it becomes clear that Dani Cooper’s assault is uncannily linked to Sara’s.

And it seems the past isn’t going to stay buried forever.

“It just doesn’t get any better than this five-star story.” – Sandra Hoover, Mystery & Suspense

“It is a sign of Karin Slaughter’s skill that although there is far more talk than action this novel is never less than nail-biting… The final twist — a touch of ironic genius — will make your jaw drop.” – Mark Sanderson, The Times

“A grueling, pitiless, yet compassionate anatomy of rape for readers who can take it.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Board to Death by CJ Connor

fiction / mystery.

Board to DeathBack in his hometown of Sugar House running his family’s board game shop and cafe, Ben Rosencrantz just can’t seem to get his life to pass go, much less collect $200. Once he was a happily married English professor in Seattle. Now he’s a divorced caregiver, looking after his ill father and a chihuahua named Beans while still figuring out the rules of retail management. At least the town has become more LGBTQ+ friendly than when Ben was a teenager–and that flower shop owner Ezra McCaslin enjoys flirting with him.

But despite his usual clientele of gamers, Ben is barely earning enough to keep the store running and stay on top of his father’s medical bills. Then a local toy and game collector named Clive offers him a winning strategy–to purchase a turn-of-the-twentieth-century edition of The Landlord’s Game, the realty and taxation game that inspired Monopoly, at a tenth of the rare edition’s true value. Suspicious of Clive’s shady, low-priced deal, Ben turns the offer down.

Then Clive turns up dead in the dumpster behind Ben’s shop and a backpack full of $100 bills appears on his doorstep. Now Ben is the #1 suspect in Clive’s death, and unless he and Ezra can prove his innocence and find the real killer, he’ll go to jail for murder–and no amount of double dice rolls will set him free…

“Like its protagonist, this debut’s quiet charm offers something different and special.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Perfect for curling up and reading over a weekend!” – Read Bake Create

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The Body in the Back Garden by Mark Waddell

fiction / mystery.

The Body in the Back GardenCrescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can… but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.

When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.

There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.

“[A] lovely cozy mystery… I was not able to figure out the culprit until very near the end of the book.” – Life and Everything

“A light, entertaining read with memorable characters, small-town nostalgia, and plenty of twists.” – Emily Melton, Booklist

“There may be both a romantic and sleuthing future for this pair who share wounds from the past.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan

fiction / historical fiction / mystery / suspense.

The Continental AffairMeet Henri and Louise. Two strangers, traveling alone, on the train from Belgrade to Istanbul. Except this isn’t the first time they have met.

It’s the 1960s and Louise is running. From her past in England, from the owners of the money she has stolen―and from Henri, the person who has been sent to collect it. Across the Continent―from Granada to Paris, from Belgrade to Istanbul―Henri follows, desperate to leave behind his own troubles. The memories of his past life as a gendarme in Algeria that keep resurfacing. His inability to reconcile the growing responsibilities of his current criminal path with this former self.

But Henri soon realizes that Louise is no ordinary mark. As the train hurtles toward its final destination, Henri and Louise must decide what the future will hold―and whether it involves one another.

“This cat-and-mouse tale is as glamorous as its title implies… [Mangan] captures time, place, and character with panache.” – Washington Post

“Driven by the slowly ratcheting tension of the chase and Henri and Louise’s reluctant attraction, the latest by Mangan is an atmospheric blend of film noir, classic mystery intrigue, and evocative travelogue.” – Christine Tran, Booklist

“Richly layered characters, opulent settings, and graceful prose elevate this captivating crime caper from Mangan above most similar fare… Alternating viewpoints and a shifting timeline enliven the yarn, and Mangan’s character exposition and vivid depictions of exotic locales are sublime. This is a treat.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Curves for Days by Laura Moher

fiction / romance.

Curves for DaysRose Barnes has got curves for days—and to Angus Drummond, the big, bearded contractor working on her new house, she’s the perfect thorn in his side. Little does she know Angus is perturbed on a daily basis by his attraction to this cheery, smart-ass woman with her sunshiny enthusiasm, her kindness, and her beautiful body.

Angus feels he has a debt to pay to the world and doesn’t deserve love until he pays it. Best to keep his mind on his work and his hands to himself. But the more Rose sees of Angus’s gruff, honorable thoughtfulness, and the more rusty laughter she surprises from him, the more she wants him too.

As their unlikely friendship becomes love, antagonism turns to partnership, and Rose’s house becomes a home. But Rose is keeping a secret that could blow up everything with Angus, and sure enough, it comes to light at the worst possible time…

“Readers will love the banter between Rose and Angus and cheer them on as they slowly build their relationship.” – Heather Miller Cover, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] sparkling debut… It’s easy to root for these deserving and well-matched characters on their bumpy road to love, and the charming small-town setting only adds to the appeal of this complex yet cozy tale. An emphasis on body positivity combines with heartfelt romance to make this a winner.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers of this heartfelt debut will hope for more from Moher.” – Diana Tixier Herald, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang

nonfiction / biography / history.

Daughter of the DragonBorn into the steam and starch of a Chinese laundry, Anna May Wong (1905–1961) emerged from turn-of-the-century Los Angeles to become Old Hollywood’s most famous Chinese American actress, a screen siren who captivated global audiences and signed her publicity photos―with a touch of defiance―“Orientally yours.” Now, more than a century after her birth, Yunte Huang narrates Wong’s tragic life story, retracing her journey from Chinatown to silent-era Hollywood, and from Weimar Berlin to decadent, prewar Shanghai, and capturing American television in its infancy. As Huang shows, Wong’s rendezvous with history features a remarkable parade of characters, including a smitten Walter Benjamin and (an equally smitten) Marlene Dietrich. Challenging the parodically racist perceptions of Wong as a “Dragon Lady,” “Madame Butterfly,” or “China Doll,” Huang’s biography becomes a truly resonant work of history that reflects the raging anti-Chinese xenophobia, unabashed sexism, and ageism toward women that defined both Hollywood and America in Wong’s all-too-brief fifty-six years on earth.

“[A] nuanced, multi-faceted look at Wong’s life and work.” – Jaime Herndon, Book Riot

“Huang’s sympathetic treatment brings out the nuances of Wong’s story, highlighting how she by turns acceded to and bristled against the stereotypes Hollywood asked her to play… It’s a fascinating—and long overdue—close-up of a Hollywood trailblazer.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] page-turner… Huang’s lively, surprising, and all-encompassing biography of Anna May Wong should be on everyone’s summer reading list.” – Emily Kubincanek, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

He Who Drowned the World by Shelley Parker-Chan 

fiction / fantasy / historical fiction.

He Who Drowned the WorldHow much would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbor in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband―and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan.

Unbeknownst to the southerners, a new contender is even closer to the throne. The scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang has maneuvered his way into the capital, and his lethal court games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history―and in so doing, make a mockery of every value his Mongol warrior family loved more than him.

All the contenders are determined to do whatever it takes to win. But when desire is the size of the world, the price could be too much for even the most ruthless heart to bear…

“…even better than the first… In the end, Parker-Chan seems to suggest, power belongs not to the most ruthless but to those who are most successful at self-forgiveness.” – Charlie Jane Anders, Washington Post

“Paying equal attention to fierce battle scenes and deep conversations and filled with desperate decisions and brutal actions, this book is immersive and intimate.” – Kristi Chadwick, Library Journal

“…intricately plotted and devastatingly brutal… Parker-Chan successfully steers the complex political machinations to a satisfying conclusion…” – Publishers Weekly

“Parker-Chan has written a heart-racing, emotional story that is also heartrending and shocking precisely because readers will, by the end, know the characters and their aims and loves so well. The conclusion of the Radiant Emperor duology makes use of every last word and stamps this series onto the map as a new must-read of the fantasy canon.” – Leah von Essen, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

I’m Not Done with You Yet by Jesse Q. Sutanto

fiction / suspense / mystery.

I'm Not Done with You YetJane is unhappy.

A struggling midlist writer whose novels barely command four figures, she feels trapped in an underwhelming marriage, just scraping by to pay a crippling Bay Area mortgage for a house–a life–she’s never really wanted.

There’s only ever been one person she cared about, one person who truly understood her: Thalia. Jane’s best and only friend nearly a decade ago during their Creative Writing days at Oxford. It was the only good year of Jane’s life–cobblestones and books and damp English air, heady wine and sweet cider and Thalia, endless Thalia. But then one night ruined everything. The blood-soaked night that should have bound Thalia to Jane forever but instead made her lose her completely. Thalia disappeared without a trace, and Jane has been unable to find her since.

Until now.

Because there she is, her name at the top of the New York Times bestseller list: A Most Pleasant Death by Thalia Ashcroft. When she discovers a post from Thalia on her website about attending a book convention in New York City in a week–“Can’t wait to see you there!”–Jane can’t wait either.

She’ll go to New York City, too, credit card bill be damned. And this time, she will do things right. Jane won’t lose Thalia again.

“[A] wickedly enjoyable treatise on the dark sides of female friendship.” – Publishers Weekly

“…I blazed through Jesse Q. Sutanto’s I’m Not Done With You Yet, the sordid tale of a twisted friendship unlike any I’ve ever read about before… It’s a twisted tale that will find you switching allegiances and who you believe. The person you end up rooting for in the end will surprise you.” – Stephanie McNeal, Glamour

“[The] mind games that play out on these pages are expertly matched by the ones Sutanto plays with her readers, as she weaves threads of obsession, racial stereotypes, envy, manipulation, class, allegiance, and toxicity into a whip-smart boss of a thriller.” – Vannessa Cronin, Amazon

“Sutanto expertly manipulates time, moving between difficult childhoods to perplexing adult lives, dexterously revealing puzzle pieces that calculatingly don’t fit. Meanwhile, crazy rich Asians, the publishing industry, and fatal misogyny all crack under Sutanto’s deadly glare.” – Terry Hong, Booklist

Knockout by Sarah MacLean

fiction / romance / historical fiction.

KnockoutWith her headful of wild curls and wilder ideas and an unabashed love of experiments and explosives, society has labeled Lady Imogen Loveless peculiar… and doesn’t know she’s one of the Hell’s Belles—a group of vigilantes operating outside the notice of most of London.

Thomas Peck is not most of London. The brilliant detective fought his way off the streets and into a promising career through sheer force of will and a keen ability to see things others miss, like the fact that Imogen isn’t peculiar… she’s pandemonium. If you ask him, she requires a keeper. When her powerful family discovers her late-night activities, they couldn’t agree more… and they know just the man for the task.

Thomas wants nothing to do with guarding Imogen. He is a grown man with a proper job and no time for the lady’s incendiary chaos, no matter how lushly it is packaged. But some assignments are too explosive to pass up, and the gruff detective is soon caught up in Imogen’s world, full of her bold smiles and burning secrets… and a fiery passion that threatens to consume them both.

“This sensational romance completely lives up to its title.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[The] always brilliant MacLean smartly plays to her literary strengths with a delightfully unconventional heroine and a by-the-book hero whose combined efforts to see that justice is done generate plenty of sexy sparks along the way as well as a deftly constructed plot that will richly resonate with twenty-first-century romance readers.” – John Charles, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“MacLean’s characters are refreshingly progressive and the plot has a kinetic energy that increases exponentially alongside the romance and suspense. It’s a joy to revisit the Hell’s Belles; series fans and new readers alike will get a kick out of Imogen’s time in the spotlight.” – Publishers Weekly

Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury by Drew Gilpin Faust

nonfiction / memoir / history.

Necessary TroubleTo grow up in the 1950s was to enter a world of polarized national alliances, nuclear threat, and destabilized social hierarchies. Two world wars and the depression that connected them had unleashed a torrent of expectations and dissatisfactions–not only in global affairs but in American society and Americans’ lives.

To be a privileged white girl in conservative, segregated Virginia was to be expected to adopt a willful blindness to the inequities of race and the constraints of gender. For young Drew Gilpin Faust, the acceptance of both female subordination and racial privilege proved intolerable and galvanizing. Urged to become “well adjusted” and to fill the role of a poised young lady that her upbringing imposed, she found resistance was the necessary price of survival. During the 1960s, through her love of learning and her active engagement in the civil rights, student, and antiwar movements, Faust forged a path of her own–one that would eventually lead her to become a historian of the very conflicts that were instrumental in shaping the world she grew up in.

Culminating in the upheavals of 1968, Necessary Trouble captures a time of rapid change and fierce reaction in one young woman’s life, tracing the transformations and aftershocks that we continue to grapple with today.

“An inspiring and timely testament to the power of education and the necessity of allyship from an important and influential scholar.” – Freda Love Smith, Booklist

“The former president of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust, oozes brilliance. Her book is like a history of America with a feminist bent… a fascinating read.” – Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“Former Harvard president Faust nimbly blends the personal and the political in this affecting memoir… Faust pulls off a brilliant synthesis, grounding the macro stresses of the period in her quest to distance herself from her culture of origin and sharpen her political sensibilities. A follow-up volume exploring her life after 1968 would be more than welcome.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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Quiet Street: On American Privilege by Nick McDonell

nonfiction / memoir / current events.

Quiet StreetNick McDonell grew up on New York City’s Upper East Side, a neighborhood defined by its wealth and influence. As a child, McDonell enjoyed everything that rarefied world entailed—sailing lessons in the Hamptons, school galas at the Met, and holiday trips on private jets. But as an adult, he left it behind to become a foreign correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Quiet Street, McDonell returns to the sidewalks of his youth, exhuming with bracing honesty his upbringing and those of his affluent peers. From Galápagos Island cruises and Tanzanian safaris to steely handshakes and schoolyard microaggressions to fox-hunting rituals and the courtship rites of sexually precocious tweens, McDonell examines the rearing of the ruling class in scalpel-sharp detail, documenting how wealth and power are hoarded, encoded, and passed down from one generation to the next. What’s more, he demonstrates how outsiders—the poor, the nonwhite, the suburban—are kept out.

Searing and precise yet ultimately full of compassion, Quiet Street examines the problem of America’s one percent, whose vision of a more just world never materializes. Who are these people? How do they cling to power? What would it take for them to share it? Quiet Street looks for answers in a universal experience: coming to terms with the culture that made you.

“[An] earnest and piercing examination of the mindset of the upper class.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] short, beautifully written book that unmasks the many ways class and wealth are used to perpetuate social and economic inequality.”- Town & Country

“As McDonell illuminates a rarified world of money, power, and connections, he also offers candidly sobering insight into the systemic cultural mechanisms designed to protect long-standing social inequalities. An eloquent and compelling study.” – Kirkus Reviews

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Stories of the Witch Knight and the Puppet Sorcerer by Garth Nix

fiction / fantasy.

Sir Hereward and Mister FitzNew York Times bestselling author Garth Nix’s exciting adult debut: a new collection including all eight stories—plus a never-before-published story—featuring Sir Hereward and his sorcerous puppet companion Mister Fitz, gathered in one magical volume for the first time ever!

Sir Hereward: the only male child of an ancient society of witches. Knight, artillerist, swordsman. Mercenary for hire. Ill-starred lover.

Mister Fitz: puppet, sorcerer, loremaster. Practitioner of arcane arts and wielder of sorcerous needles.

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: godslayers. Agents of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World, charged with the location and removal of listed extra-dimensional entities, more commonly known as gods.

Together, they are relentless travelers in a treacherous world of magic, gunpowder, and adventure.

Compiled for the first time ever, these eight magical stories—plus an all-new tale, “The Field of Fallen Foe”—featuring fabulous, quintessential Garth Nix protagonists Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz comprise a must-have adult fantasy collection for fans and those about to discover the witch knight and his puppet sorcerer for the first time.

“Steampunk combines with sword and sorcery—along with a bit of gunpowder—to bring Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz to colorful and frequently explosive life in this collection… Though all but one of these stories have been previously published, fans will appreciate finding them all in a single volume; readers new to Nix’s adult work will have a real treat on their hands.” – Marlene Harris, Library Journal

“Don’t miss Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz. In his debut adult collection, New York Times bestselling author Garth Nix, a writer who mixes horror and magic to great effect, pairs two of his greatest characters, Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz.” – Tee Tate, LitStack

The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang

fiction / fantasy / historical fiction.

The Water OutlawsIn the jianghu, you break the law to make it your own.

Lin Chong is an expert arms instructor, training the Emperor’s soldiers in sword and truncheon, battle axe and spear, lance and crossbow. Unlike bolder friends who flirt with challenging the unequal hierarchies and values of Imperial society, she believes in keeping her head down and doing her job.

Until a powerful man with a vendetta rips that carefully-built life away.

Disgraced, tattooed as a criminal, and on the run from an Imperial Marshall who will stop at nothing to see her dead, Lin Chong is recruited by the Bandits of Liangshan. Mountain outlaws on the margins of society, the Liangshan Bandits proclaim a belief in justice—for women, for the downtrodden, for progressive thinkers a corrupt Empire would imprison or destroy. They’re also murderers, thieves, smugglers, and cutthroats.

Apart, they love like demons and fight like tigers. Together, they could bring down an empire.

“Reimagining the famed Chinese novel Water Margin, this epic wuxia fantasy will blow you away… Huang’s dynamic prose and animated action will keep you hooked ’til the very last page.” – Rosie Knight, IGN

“An addictive action-adventure novel and one of the most straightforwardly utopian books in ages… Huang’s sensitive exploration of the conflict between law and justice is as exciting as the most spectacular airborne kick.” – Charlie Jane Anders, Washington Post

“At once a boisterous martial-arts epic, an intricate heist story, and an all too timely tale of resistance against tyrannical institutions, The Water Outlaws is also unusually engrossing… In addition to being a Hugo Award winner, polymath Huang is a Hollywood stunt performer and armorer, able to write scenes of intricate combat with effortless clarity and breathless pacing. This novel reads like a movie in the best way.” – Emily Hughes, Vulture

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