“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” – Emma Donoghue, Room
The Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner
fiction / romance.
Thirty-three-year-old Abby Stern has made it to a happy place. True, she still has gig jobs instead of a career, and the apartment where she’s lived since college still looks like she’s just moved in. But she’s got good friends, her bike, and her bicycling club in Philadelphia. She’s at peace with her plus-size body—at least, most of the time—and she’s on track to marry Mark Medoff, her childhood summer sweetheart, a man she met at the weight-loss camp that her perpetually dieting mother forced her to attend. Fifteen years after her final summer at Camp Golden Hills, when Abby reconnects with a half-his-size Mark, it feels like the happy ending she’s always wanted.
Yet Abby can’t escape the feeling that something isn’t right… or the memories of one thrilling night she spent with a man named Sebastian two years previously. When Abby gets a last-minute invitation to lead a cycling trip from NYC to Niagara Falls, she’s happy to have time away from Mark, a chance to reflect and make up her mind.
But things get complicated fast. First, Abby spots a familiar face in the group—Sebastian, the one-night stand she thought she’d never see again. Sebastian is a serial dater who lives a hundred miles away. In spite of their undeniable chemistry, Abby is determined to keep her distance. Then there’s a surprise last-minute addition to the trip: her mother, Eileen, the woman Abby blames for a lifetime of body shaming and insecurities she’s still trying to undo.
Over two weeks and more than seven hundred miles, strangers become friends, hidden truths come to light, a teenage girl with a secret unites the riders in unexpected ways… and Abby is forced to reconsider everything she believes about herself, her mother, and the nature of love.
“[A] journey that’s as much about self-discovery as it is about exploring new territory on two wheels.” – New York Times
“This is a winning combination of a light read with serious emotional depth, the very mix Weiner’s many fans have come to expect from her.” – Susan Maguire, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“The romance between Abby and Sebastian is a slow burn that’s incredibly fun to read, but Abby’s journey to make her life her own is the real standout. A lovely, compulsively readable story about finding your path and believing in your own worth.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
fiction / young adult / mystery / suspense.
Grayson Hawthorne was raised as the heir apparent to his billionaire grandfather, taught from the cradle to put family first. Now the great Tobias Hawthorne is dead and his family disinherited, but some lessons linger. When Grayson’s half-sisters find themselves in trouble, he swoops in to do what he does best: take care of the problem—efficiently, effectively, mercilessly. And without getting bogged down in emotional entanglements.
Jameson Hawthorne is a risk-taker, a sensation-seeker, a player of games. When his mysterious father appears and asks for a favor, Jameson can’t resist the challenge. Now he must infiltrate London’s most exclusive underground gambling club, which caters to the rich, the powerful, and the aristocratic, and win an impossible game of greatest stakes. Luckily, Jameson Hawthorne lives for impossible.
Drawn into twisted games on opposite sides of the globe, Grayson and Jameson—with the help of their brothers and the girl who inherited their grandfather’s fortune—must dig deep to decide who they want to be and what each of them will sacrifice to win.
Chili Crisp: 50+ Recipes to Satisfy Your Spicy, Crunchy, Garlicky Cravings by James Park; photography by Heami Lee
nonfiction / food / cooking.
Chili crisp is a magical ingredient that tingles with heat, crunches with fried garlic and onions, and slicks any food with oily goodness. Stir it into soup, toss it with noodles, or drizzle it on warm, buttery biscuits. It’s both a foodie obsession and a surprise secret weapon for adding spice and depth to any meal.
James Park, food writer and chili crisp devotee, writes a love letter to his favorite ingredient across 50 recipes. These approachable and adaptable recipes could fill your whole day with chili.
Packed with chili crisp inspiration to take your love of this spicy ingredient to the next level, Chili Crisp provides dozens of no-recipe recipes (like potato chips and chili crisp, a match made in snack heaven) and a handy build-your-own chili crisp formula to inspire you to create your very own version. Soon all your family and friends will be clamoring for a jar.
“[Park] approaches the topic with care and reverence and the recipes with a thrill-seeking sense of inventiveness… this book will give you ample ideas to capitalize on each drop of red oil.” – Anna Hezel, Epicurious
“…joyfully explores the possibilities of chili crisp… Park’s enthusiasm is infectious as he shares the stories behind the recipes and meditates on chili crisp’s role in his embrace of his Korean identity and broader Asian heritage. This exuberant exploration will inspire chili crisp aficionados—and anyone interested in spicing up their cooking.” – Publishers Weekly
Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others by Amy Thielen
nonfiction / food / cooking.
In her much-anticipated follow-up to The New Midwestern Table, Amy writes, “no one will ever care about the food as much as you and I do.” Company will have you rethinking the way you entertain, throwing dinner parties that are less formal, more frequent, and as fun for the cook as for the guests. Preaching leniency, not-guilty pleasures, and the art of making it in advance, Amy soothes the most common party anxieties one by one. Her reflections on writing menus, produce shopping, and how to time a meal are novel but timeless. Not afraid of meat (but obsessed with vegetables), these 125 loyal recipes are arranged in menu form―from intimate dinner parties to larger holiday feasts to parties that serve up to twenty.
With a feast of gorgeous photography and plenty of down-in-the-pan cooking nerdery, Company encourages a return to the habit, and the joy, of cooking for family and friends.
“Those appreciative of hearty Midwest cooking and entertaining large crowds will find inspiration here.” – Jessica S. Levy, Booklist
“Though the concept of feeding a group of six, 12, or perhaps even 20 can spark anxiety in the heart of even the most confident home cook, Amy Thielen and her new book will empower you to do just that―casually!… Thielen’s humor and candor, along with the reminiscent-of-a-family-album photography, make the book approachable and fun.” – Vanessa Pamela Friedman, Vogue
“Uniquely organized by the size and type of gathering, it will make readers immediately feel ready to take on entertaining… Practical as well as pretty… There are plenty of options right now for cookbooks about entertaining, but don’t miss out on this distinctive offering, which will make long-lasting impressions on cooks and their guests. Thielen delivers again with warm, encouraging, and delicious menus that will have readers excited to plan their next crowd-pleasing event.” – Sarah Tansley, Library Journal
The Deadline: Essays by Jill Lepore
nonfiction / history / memoir / current events.
Few, if any, historians have brought such insight, wisdom, and empathy to public discourse as Jill Lepore. Arriving at The New Yorker in 2005, Lepore, with her panoptical range and razor-sharp style, brought a transporting freshness and a literary vivacity to everything from profiles of long-dead writers to urgent constitutional analysis to an unsparing scrutiny of the woeful affairs of the nation itself. The astonishing essays collected in The Deadline offer a prismatic portrait of Americans’ techno-utopianism, frantic fractiousness, and unprecedented―but armed―aimlessness. From lockdowns and race commissions to Bratz dolls and bicycles, to the losses that haunt Lepore’s life, these essays again and again cross what she calls the deadline, the “river of time that divides the quick from the dead.” Echoing Gore Vidal’s United States in its massive intellectual erudition, The Deadline, with its remarkable juxtaposition of the political and the personal, challenges the very nature of the essay―and of history―itself.
“Lepore’s galvanized readers will acquire new perspectives and new knowledge as she addresses complex matters with vigor, wit, and clarity.” – Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“…Lepore focuses her cogent insight on the most pressing issues of the past decade in American society, seamlessly moving between the intensely personal (a friend’s cancer diagnosis) to the fiercely political (the urgent gun-violence crisis and ongoing debate over gun control) with authority and acumen… [The Deadline] brings wit, clarity, and necessary perspective to the biggest issues of today.” – Cady Lang, Time
“Shrewd perspectives on a tumultuous decade. In intellectually rigorous essays lightened with ‘domestic metaphors’ and ‘maternal asides,’ historian Lepore brings her vibrant curiosity and wide-ranging erudition to a host of topics… ‘All historians are coroners,’ she remarks, explaining her deft dissection of past lives, but not all bring to their writing Lepore’s grace, precision, and deep humanity. A noteworthy collection from an indispensable writer and thinker.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
Don’t Forget to Write by Sara Goodman Confino
fiction / historical fiction / romance.
When Marilyn Kleinman is caught making out with the rabbi’s son in front of the whole congregation, her parents ship her off to her great-aunt Ada for the summer. If anyone can save their daughter’s reputation, it’s Philadelphia’s strict premier matchmaker. Either that or Marilyn can kiss college goodbye.
To Marilyn’s surprise, Ada’s not the humorless septuagenarian her mother described. Not with that platinum-blonde hair, Hermès scarf, and Cadillac convertible. She’s sharp, straight-talking, takes her job very seriously, and abides by her own rules…mostly. As the summer unfolds, Ada and Marilyn head for the Jersey shore, where Marilyn helps Ada scope out eligible matches―for anyone but Marilyn, that is.
Because if there’s one thing Marilyn’s learned from Ada, it’s that she doesn’t have to settle. With the school year quickly approaching and her father threatening to disinherit her, Marilyn must make her choice for her future: return to the comfortable life she knows or embrace a risky, unknown path on her own.
“Confino weaves humor into her novel that will delight readers. This is a historical tale that speaks to the choices women were starting to make on the road to greater independence.” – Emily Borsa, Booklist
End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood by Patty Lin
nonfiction / memoir / writing / television.
What if achieving your professional dreams comes at too high a personal cost? That’s what screenwriter Patty Lin started to ask herself after years in the cutthroat TV industry. One minute she was a tourist, begging her way into the audience of Late Night with David Letterman. Just a few years later, she was an insider who―through relentless hard work and sacrifice―had earned a seat in the writers’ rooms of the hottest TV shows of all time. While writing for Friends, Freaks and Geeks, Desperate Housewives, and Breaking Bad, Patty steeled herself against the indignities of a chaotic, abusive, male-dominated work culture, not just as one of the few women in the room, but as the only Asian person.
This funny, fresh, eye-opening, and inside-Hollywood story will resonate with anyone trying to please their parents, maintain a love life, and find their way in the world―and will inspire countless dreamers to listen to their inner voices and know when it’s time to get out.
“At a moment of reckoning for the entertainment industry, Lin’s memoir of ambition, power, and sacrifice couldn’t come at a better time.” – Sophie M. Stewart, The Millions
“A meditation on ambition and pain from a talented, engaging writer, Lin’s memoir provides an inside look at an often-glamorized career.” – Laura Chanoux, Booklist
“There is plenty in this book to show that writing for television is not an easy career, and the people in control can be cruel. Fans of these shows will be interested in the glimpses the book offers into their writing rooms.” – Emily Kubincanek, Library Journal
The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons by Karin Smirnoff; translated by Sarah Death
fiction / suspense / mystery.
Change is coming to Sweden’s far north: its untapped natural resources are sparking a gold rush with the criminal underworld leading the charge. But it’s not the prospect of riches that brings Lisbeth Salander to the small town of Gasskas. She has been named guardian to her niece Svala, whose mother has disappeared. Two things soon become clear: Svala is a remarkably gifted teenager—and she’s being watched.
Mikael Blomkvist is also heading north. He has seen better days. Millennium magazine is in its final print issue, and relations with his daughter are strained. Worse still, there are troubling rumors surrounding the man she’s about to marry. When the truth behind the whispers explodes into violence, Salander emerges as Blomkvist’s last hope.
A pulse-pounding thriller, The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons sees Salander and Blomkvist navigating a world of conspiracy and betrayal, old enemies and new friends, ice-bound wilderness and the global corporations that threaten to tear it apart.
“Smirnoff has created an absolutely brilliant continuation of the series: exciting plot, plenty of action, and a sensitive portrayal of complicated relationships—where the new character Svala is one of the highlights. Welcome back, Salander!” – Femina
“…propulsive… [Smirnoff] adds new maturity and depth to the two leads, offers several jaw-dropping plot twists, and draws clever—if occasionally implausible—connections between disparate characters. Fans will find this a worthy addition to the series.” – Publishers Weekly
“Smirnoff sustains the series’ trademark interwoven plotlines and no-holds-barred war on predators, but puts her unique stamp on it by weaving a stronger thread of optimism into Lisbeth’s sharp edges and focusing on themes of family and complex rural dynamics.” – Christine Tran, Booklist
Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney
fiction / suspense / mystery.
Edith may have been tricked into a nursing home, but at eighty-years-young, she’s planning her escape. Patience works there, cleaning messes and bonding with Edith, a kindred spirit. But Patience is lying to Edith about almost everything.
Edith’s own daughter, Clio, won’t speak to her. And someone new is about to knock on Clio’s door… and their intentions aren’t good.
With every reason to distrust each other, the women must solve a mystery with three suspects, two murders, and one victim. If they do, they might just find out what happened to the baby who disappeared, the mother who lost her, and the connections that bind them.
In the style of Daisy Darker and Rock Paper Scissors, Good Bad Girl is a thriller in which nobody can be trusted and the twists come fast and furious.
“Twisty, pacy and deliciously clever, this thriller is brilliant!” – Claire Frost, The Sun
“A deep, dark mystery filled with Feeney’s powerful psychological insights, and the devilish surprises that have become the hallmark of her novels… This clever, multi-layered tale works its mesmerizing magic from the startling open chapter to the final, jaw dropping conclusion… A terrific novel.” – Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Post
“Feeney’s latest solidifies her reputation as a premier purveyor of psychological suspense… grabs readers from page one… This crafty thriller will touch readers’ hearts as much as it bends their minds.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Happiness Falls by Angie Kim ★
fiction / mystery / suspense.
“We didn’t call the police right away.” Those are the first words of this extraordinary novel about a biracial Korean-American family in Virginia whose lives are upended when their beloved father and husband goes missing.
Mia, the irreverent, hyperanalytical twenty-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything–which is why she isn’t initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don’t return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia’s brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.
What follows is both a ticking-clock investigation into the whereabouts of a father and an emotionally rich portrait of a family whose most personal secrets just may be at the heart of his disappearance. Full of shocking twists and fascinating questions of love, language, race, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry. With all the powerful storytelling she brought to her award-winning debut Miracle Creek, Angie Kim turns the missing person story into something wholly original, creating an indelible tale of a family who must go to remarkable lengths to truly understand one another.
“The claim that a book will change your life often seems like exaggeration. Here the potential is real.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“With unexpected humor and aching tenderness, the bestselling author of Miracle Creek forces us to reckon with our definitions of family, ability, and happiness.” – Charley Burlock, Oprah Daily
“[A] deliciously brainy new thriller… Happiness Falls dares to unlock the enigma of love at the molecular level while serving up a page-turner.” – Hamilton Cain, Washington Post
“[A] philosophical family drama that is as page-turning as it is thought-provoking. Book groups will find much to discuss here, especially those who like Celeste Ng.” – Susan Maguire, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea ★
fiction / young adult / horror.
Laure Mesny is a perfectionist with an axe to grind. Despite being constantly overlooked in the elite and cutthroat world of the Parisian ballet, she will do anything to prove that a Black girl can take center stage. To level the playing field, Laure ventures deep into the depths of the Catacombs and strikes a deal with a pulsating river of blood.
The primordial power Laure gains promises influence and adoration, everything she’s dreamed of and worked toward. With retribution on her mind, she surpasses her bitter and privileged peers, leaving broken bodies behind her on her climb to stardom.
But even as undeniable as she is, Laure is not the only monster around. And her vicious desires make her a perfect target for slaughter. As she descends into madness and the mystifying underworld beneath her, she is faced with the ultimate choice: continue to break herself for scraps of validation or succumb to the darkness that wants her exactly as she is—monstrous heart and all. That is, if the god-killer doesn’t catch her first.
From debut author Jamison Shea comes I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me, a slow-burn horror that lifts a veil on the institutions that profit on exclusion and the toll of giving everything to a world that will never love you back.
“I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me is a deliciously dark story that will leave readers pondering the limits of their own desires. It is difficult to compare this debut to anything else I’ve read before, but fans of morally grey characters and young adult horror/thriller are certainly in for a treat.” – Amerie Diaz, The Nerd Daily
“[A] charged series starter, drenched in gore, that uses horror to interrogate the brutalities of a calcified institution and its impact on real lives. Horror and ballet fans alike will find much to love.” – Maggie Reagan, Booklist
“While the scares are grisly, Shea skillfully uses them to reveal hard truths surrounding institutions that capitalize on exclusion, and to depict the lengths one teen goes for acceptance and recognition.” – Publishers Weekly
“Equal parts dark, supernatural fantasy and mystery, this layered tale utilizes a spectacular arsenal of body horror, mythology, and the occult to explore mature themes around desirability, the consequences of unchecked power, and the apathy toward violence against girls engendered by a system that values perfectionism, pedigree, and submission over people’s lives. Gory, gripping, and visceral; examines how supernatural and systemic power unleash the monster within all of us.” – Kirkus Reviews
Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue ★
fiction / historical fiction.
Eliza and Lister have never been this wide-awake in their lives, and the Slope, with its curtains drawn wide, is bright with starlight. They talk in whispers, not to disturb the maids who lie sleeping on the other side of the box room. The question Eliza’s been needing to ask swells like a great berry in her mouth, and all at once she’s not scared to let it out, not scared at all, not scared of anything…
In 1805 fourteen-year-old Eliza Raine is a school girl at the Manor School for Young Ladies in York. The daughter of an Indian mother and a British father, Eliza was banished to this unfamiliar country as a little girl. When she first stepped off the King George in Kent, Eliza was accompanied by her older sister, Jane, but now she boards alone at the Manor, with no one left to claim her. She spends her days avoiding the attention of her fellow pupils until, one day, a fearless and charismatic new student arrives at the school. The two girls are immediately thrown together and soon Eliza’s life is turned inside out by this strange and curious young woman.
Learned by Heart, Emma Donoghue’s mesmerising new novel, tells the heartbreaking story of the tangled lives of two women whose intense, and unlikely, relationship will change them for ever.
“[An] impressive story… This melancholic love story is imbued with deep feeling and generosity toward its characters.” – Publishers Weekly
“Donoghue’s affection for the savvy, strange Lister is obvious, and the author makes her teenage couple’s partnership both deeply serious and wonderfully naive… but the reader knows from the first page that their infatuation won’t last, and the novel is ultimately a tender, sad account of first love” – Emma Sarappo, The Atlantic
“The beauty of Donoghue’s thoroughly researched novel rooted in Lister’s famous diary lies in the ways it explores how unequal the effects of love can be on two souls.” – Poornima Apte, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“…Emma Donoghue has proven herself a masterful storyteller of historical worlds populated with deeply imagined characters. Though the universes she creates seem like they could expand infinitely, she builds small, confined spaces at the center from which grow rich possibilities. This is all especially true of Learned by Heart, a story of risk, love and two young women discovering themselves by way of each other… The language here—of deep friendship and longing, text and subtext—is captivating. Sentences sing, and details shine. Donoghue has a remarkable ability to hold you in a moment, allowing you to see as a character does, knowing the questions each breath contains… bold and dazzling…” – Freya Sachs, BookPage, STARRED REVIEW
The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann; translated by Amy Bojang
fiction / mystery / comedy.
It has been an eventful morning for Agnes Sharp and the other inhabitants of Sunset Hall, a house share for the old and unruly in the sleepy English countryside. Although they have had some issues (misplaced reading glasses, conflicting culinary tastes, decreasing mobility, and unruly grandsons), nothing prepares them for an unexpected visit from a police officer with some shocking news. A body has been discovered next door. Everyone puts on a long face for show, but they are secretly relieved the body in question is not the one they’re currently hiding in the shed (sorry, Lillith).
It seems the answer to their little problem with Lillith may have fallen right into their lap. All they have to do is find out who murdered their neighbor, so they can pin Lillith’s death on them, thus killing two (old) birds with one stone (cold killer).
With their plan sorted, Agnes and her geriatric gang spring into action. After all, everybody likes a good mystery. Besides, the more suspicion they can cast about, surely the less will land on them. To investigate, they will step out of their comfort zone, into the not-so-idyllic village of Duck End and tangle with sinister bakers, broken stairlifts, inept criminals, the local authorities, and their own dark secrets.
“The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp, translated from the German by Amy Bojang, operates in its own skewed universe. Fans of the Thursday Murder Club books will find much to like here.” – Sarah Weinman, New York Times
“[An] amusing ensemble cozy… readers will gladly return to Sunset Hall for future installments.” – Publishers Weekly
“Rooting the rhythms of her plot in all-too-real problems of aging—failures in mobility and memory, imprudent placements in eldercare facilities, hallucinations and confabulations, and the crowning indignity of being disbelieved or dismissed—Swann creates a world so witty and playful that readers may need to keep reminding themselves that there really is a murderer out there, or in here. An antic, moving celebration of life’s final chapters.” – Kirkus Reviews
Terrace Story by Hilary Leichter ★
fiction / fantasy.
Annie, Edward, and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment. One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet. It wasn’t there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller’s dream come true! But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world.
Terrace Story follows the characters who suffer these repercussions and reverberations: the little family of three, their future now deeply uncertain, and those who orbit their fragile universe. The distance and love between these characters expands limitlessly, across generations. How far can the mind travel when it’s looking for something that is gone? Where do we put our loneliness, longing, and desire? What do we do with the emotions that seem to stretch beyond the body, beyond the boundaries of life and death?
Based on the National Magazine Award-winning story, Hilary Leichter’s profound second novel asks how we nurture love when death looms over every moment. From one of our most innovative and daring writers, Terrace Story is an astounding meditation on loss, a reverie about extinction, and a map for where to go next.
“[A] sprawling, gutting romance… Terrace Story’s metaphysical turns are undergirded by intense, emotional precision. We may well outgrow one another the way we outgrow our house, our home, and even our planet. That’s a difficult truth to swallow. Perhaps we can only see it clearly piece by piece, story by story, over a lifetime. That is the pleasure and heartbreak of reading Leichter’s work: the knowledge that sometimes stories have no beginning or end.” – Emily Hunt Kivel, Bomb
“This is an intelligent and sneakily moving book, perfect for afternoons when you wish you were nowhere other than where you are.” – Emily Temple, Literary Hub
“…delightful… deeply satisfying… there are plenty of wry observations on time and memory (‘Then again—most beginnings, apocryphal. Almost always unobserved. Who can remember with any accuracy life’s initial drift toward its final shape?’). Leichter soars with this cogent yet dreamlike tale.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“…Terrace Story is fun and profound, fickle and erudite. It is an irresistibly cool book.” – Courtney Eathorne, Booklist