Best New Books: Week of 11/7/23

“History is a ship forever setting sail.” – Tracy K. Smith, Wade in the Water: Poems

Again and Again by Jonathan Evison


Again and AgainEugene “Geno” Miles is living out his final days in a nursing home, bored, curmudgeonly, and struggling to connect with his new nursing assistant, Angel, who is understandably skeptical of Geno’s insistence on having lived not just one life but many—all the way back to medieval Spain, where, as a petty thief, he first lucked upon true love only to lose it, and spend the next thousand years trying to recapture it.

Who is Geno? A lonely old man clinging to his delusions and rehearsing his fantasies, or a legitimate anomaly, a thousand-year-old man who continues to search for the love he lost so long ago?

As Angel comes to learn the truth about Geno, so, too, does the reader, and as his miraculous story comes to a head, so does the biggest truth of all: that love—timeless, often elusive—is sometimes right in front of us.

“[A] touching fantastical tale… Evison evokes genuine emotions from the connection between cheery Angel and sour Eugene, and he keeps readers wondering whether Eugene is a misunderstood hero or an unreliable narrator. This touches the heart.” – Publishers Weekly

“Evison imbues his big-hearted narrative with sumptuous mystery and intrigue tracing Eugene’s quest for love amid undiminished hope. Though Eugene has traversed multiple lands and time lines in different forms, his path is ultimately a map of the human heart.” – Bill Kelly, Booklist

“It’s a fantastic story… Compelling enough to keep me, as a reader, up until dawn, unable to put the book down… We’ve got mystery and action and unforgettable characters but there is also an unbreakable thread of hope running through Again and Again. I can’t think of anything our world needs more right now.” – Shelby Van Pelt, Book of the Month

Among the Bros: A Fraternity Crime Story by Max Marshall

nonfiction / true crime.

Among the BrosWhen Max Marshall arrived on the campus of the College of Charleston in 2018, he hoped to investigate a small-time fraternity Xanax trafficking ring. Instead, he found a homicide, several student deaths, and millions of dollars circulating around the Deep South. He also opened up an elite world hidden to outsiders. Behind the pop culture cliches of “Greek life” lies one of the major breeding grounds of American power: 80 percent of Fortune 500 executives, 85 percent of Supreme Court justices, and all but four presidents since 1825 have been fraternity members. With unprecedented immersion, this book takes readers inside that bubble.

Under the live oaks and Spanish moss of Travel + Leisure’s “Most Beautiful Campus in America,” Marshall traces several “C of C” boys’ journeys from fraternity pledges to interstate drug traffickers. The result is a true-life story of hubris, status, money, drugs, and murder—one that lifts a curtain on an ecstatic and disturbing way of life. With expert pacing and a cool eye, he follows a never-ending party that continues after funerals and mass arrests.

An addictive and haunting portrait of tomorrow’s American establishment, Among the Bros is nonfiction storytelling at its finest.

“[An] incredible story… which Marshall tells exceptionally well.” – David Pitt, Booklist

“Through chilling, candid conversations with his sources, Marshall convincingly illustrates how these young men allowed greed to wreck their lives. The result is a fast-paced and frightening campus crime saga.” – Publishers Weekly

“…gripping… [a] page-turning triumph… Told with journalistic integrity, a sense of humor and gruesome detail, Mikey Schmidt’s rise from try-hard to big-time drug lord is as breathtaking to witness as the ring’s takedown, in a 2016 bust that uncovers tens of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs.” – Rachel Fleit, New York Times

Baumgartner by Paul Auster


BaumgartnerPaul Auster’s brilliant eighteenth novel opens with a scorched pot of water, which Sy Baumgartner — phenomenologist, noted author, and soon-to-be retired philosophy professor – has just forgotten on the stove.

Baumgartner’s life had been defined by his deep, abiding love for his wife, Anna, who was killed in a swimming accident nine years earlier. Now 71, Baumgartner continues to struggle to live in her absence as the novel sinuously unfolds into spirals of memory and reminiscence, delineated in episodes spanning from 1968, when Sy and Anna meet as broke students working and writing in New York, through their passionate relationship over the next forty years, and back to Baumgartner’s youth in Newark and his Polish-born father’s life as a dress-shop owner and failed revolutionary.

Rich with compassion, wit, and Auster’s keen eye for beauty in the smallest, most transient moments of ordinary life, Baumgartner asks: Why do we remember certain moments, and forget others? In one of his most luminous works and his first novel since the Booker-shortlisted tour-de-force 4 3 2 1, Paul Auster captures several lifetimes.

“Auster’s portrait of a thoughtful man embracing loss and love is a gorgeous, subtly suspenseful revelation of the covert dramas of a contemplative, kind, and expressive life.” – Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] profound character study of a man whose advancing years are shaped by mourning and memory… builds to a beautiful approximation of memory’s fluidity and allure. This is one to savor.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“It’s lovely. It’s sweet. It’s odd… As [C.S.] Lewis put it: ‘Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.’ Baumgartner, for its quiet and thoughtful meandering, reads the same way.” – Fiona Maazel, New York Times

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

fiction / fantasy / mystery / romance.

Bookshops & BonedustViv’s career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned.

Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it.

What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?

Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine.

Still, adventure isn’t all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected.

“Warm and wonderful.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A prequel that gives us a chance to return to the warm and cozy realm of one of last year’s most unexpectedly great fantasy worlds, Bookshops & Bonedust is the heartwarming origin story you didn’t know you needed.” – Lacy Baugher Milas, Paste

“This prequel is the perfect place for readers to start Baldree’s cozy fantasy series where folks band together for good, and evil is conquered through cleverness and friendship.” – Marlene Harris, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Baldree’s prequel to Legends & Lattes cements his talent for cozy fantasy, engaging characters, and anachronistic references that would be at home in a Discworld novel… the joy of reading here isn’t a simple uncertainty over who lives or dies but rather watching friendships blossom and characters grow.” – Sarah Rice, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Breaking Twitter: Elon Musk and the Most Controverisal Corporate Takeover in History by Ben Mezrich

nonfiction / business / biography / current events.

Breaking TwitterFrom New York Times bestselling author Ben Mezrich: the book Elon Musk doesn’t want you to read.

Breaking Twitter takes readers inside the darkly comic battle between one of the most intriguing, polarizing, influential men of our time—Elon Musk—and the company that represents our culture’s dearest hope for a shared global conversation. From employee accounts within Twitter headquarters to the mission-driven team Musk surrounded himself with, this is the full story from all sides. Can Musk miraculously succeed or will he spectacularly fail? What will that mean to the global town hall that is Twitter? What, really, is Elon’s end goal? The whole world is watching. Breaking Twitter will provide ringside seats.

“This provides further proof of Mezrich’s talent for chronicling the foibles of the tech elite.” – Publishers Weekly

“[Mezrich] uncovers rampant bad judgment and ego-driven hypocrisy… [has] some important things to say about business in the social media age.” – Kirkus Reviews

Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

fiction / young adult / romance.

Check & MateMallory Greenleaf is done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory’s focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious “Kingkiller” Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess.

Nolan’s loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What’s even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory’s victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can’t help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist…

As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren’t only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent… and infuriating…)

“Readers will devour this swoonworthy romance in one sitting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Hazelwood’s writing style makes the characters’ banter shine… Readers will fall in love with this chess-playing duo as Mallory and Nolan bounce between being extremely competitive and being drawn to each other. This highly enjoyable, emotion-filled romance will attract teens and even loyal fans of her adult novels as it blends wit and wisdom with love’s tendency to make pawns of us all.” – Aurora Dominguez, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Via Mallory and Nolan’s complementary personalities and complex histories, Hazelwood crafts a feminist rendering that sheds light on sexist views within the world of competitive chess, all while spinning a swoon-worthy romance.” – Publishers Weekly

A Christmas Vanishing by Anne Perry

fiction / mystery / historical fiction.

A Christmas VanishingMariah Ellison, Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother, accepts her longtime friend Sadie’s gracious invitation to spend Christmas with her and her husband, Barton, in their picturesque village. But upon arrival, Mariah discovers that Sadie has vanished without a trace, and Barton rudely rescinds the invitation. Once Mariah finds another acquaintance to stay with during the holiday season, she begins investigating Sadie’s disappearance.

Mariah’s uncanny knack for solving mysteries serves her well during her search, which is driven by gossip as icy as the December weather. Did Sadie run off with another man? Was she kidnapped? Has someone harmed her? Frustratingly, Mariah’s questions reveal more about the villagers themselves than about her friend’s whereabouts. Yet in the process of getting to know Sadie’s neighbors, Mariah finds a kind of redemption, as she rediscovers her kinder side, and her ability to love.

It is up to Mariah to master her own feelings, drown out the noise, and get to the bottom of what occurred, all before Christmas day. With the holiday rapidly approaching, will she succeed in bringing Sadie home in time for them to celebrate it together—or is that too much to hope for?

“In her eighties and lonely, the well-drawn Mariah does a lot of soul searching, regretting her previous self-absorbed and ill-tempered behavior due to past trauma, hoping to change and build a new life for herself in St. Helens with friends and even a possible romantic interest.” – Sue O’Brien, Booklist

A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through? by Kelly & Zach Weinersmith

nonfiction / science / technology.

A City on MarsEarth is not well. The promise of starting life anew somewhere far, far away—no climate change, no war, no Twitter—beckons, and settling the stars finally seems within our grasp. Or is it? Critically acclaimed, bestselling authors Kelly and Zach Weinersmith set out to write the essential guide to a glorious future of space settlements, but after years of research, they aren’t so sure it’s a good idea. Space technologies and space business are progressing fast, but we lack the knowledge needed to have space kids, build space farms, and create space nations in a way that doesn’t spark conflict back home. In a world hurtling toward human expansion into space, A City on Mars investigates whether the dream of new worlds won’t create nightmares, both for settlers and the people they leave behind. In the process, the Weinersmiths answer every question about space you’ve ever wondered about, and many you’ve never considered:

Can you make babies in space? Should corporations govern space settlements? What about space war? Are we headed for a housing crisis on the Moon’s Peaks of Eternal Light—and what happens if you’re left in the Craters of Eternal Darkness? Why do astronauts love taco sauce? Speaking of meals, what’s the legal status of space cannibalism?

With deep expertise, a winning sense of humor, and art from the beloved creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the Weinersmiths investigate perhaps the biggest questions humanity will ever ask itself—whether and how to become multiplanetary.

Get in, we’re going to Mars.

“[An] exceptional new piece of popular science… Forceful, engaging and funny… hilarious. The breezy prose is studded with charming cartoons… This book will make you happy to live on this planet — a good thing, because you’re not leaving anytime soon.” – W.M. Akers, New York Times

“…inventive, funny, and informative… Filled with fun illustrations that bring the writing to life, this accessible and thought-provoking book explores what it will really take to build a society on another planet.” – Jaime Herndon, American Scientist

“[An] immersive and entertaining examination of how close humanity actually is to living among the stars… the Weinersmiths’ passion and enthusiasm shine through every page of this absorbing, lively exploration.” – Kristine Huntley, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education by Stephanie Land

nonfiction / memoir / current events.

ClassWhen Stephanie Land set out to write her memoir Maid, she never could have imagined what was to come. Handpicked by President Barack Obama as one of the best books of 2019, it was called “an eye-opening journey into the lives of the working poor” (People). Later it was adapted into the hit Netflix series Maid, which was viewed by 67 million households and was Netflix’s fourth most-watched show in 2021, garnering three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Stephanie’s escape out of poverty and abuse in search of a better life inspired millions.

Maid was a story about a housecleaner, but it was also a story about a woman with a dream. In Class, Land takes us with her as she finishes college and pursues her writing career. Facing barriers at every turn including a byzantine loan system, not having enough money for food, navigating the judgments of professors and fellow students who didn’t understand the demands of attending college while under the poverty line—Land finds a way to survive once again, finally graduating in her mid-thirties.

Class paints an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of motherhood as it converges and often conflicts with personal desire and professional ambition. Who has the right to create art? Who has the right to go to college? And what kind of work is valued in our culture? In clear, candid, and moving prose, Class grapples with these questions, offering a searing indictment of America’s educational system and an inspiring testimony of a mother’s triumph against all odds.

“Part memoir, part manifesto: Fans of Maid will enjoy this next installment from a dedicated writer and mother.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] riveting new memoir… Land crafts a poignant and eye-opening story about a failing educational system and the barriers and gatekeeping she faced both personally and professionally on the way to fulfilling her dreams.” – Kristina Wright, BookBub

“An incredible and heart-wrenching memoir… as infuriating as it is inspiring, and it should be considered required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in narratives of wealth and work, the lived experience of prejudicial U.S. safety net systems, or social justice.” – Kerry McHugh, Shelf Awareness

“…frank and captivating… Eye-opening and heartrending, this will provide succor for readers who’ve faced similar hardships and essential education for anyone who hasn’t. It’s another stirring personal history from one of the foremost chroniclers of 21st-century economic anxiety.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

A Death in Malta: An Assassination and a Family’s Quest for Justice by Paul Caruana Galizia

nonfiction / true crime / history / biography.

A Death in MaltaAn archipelago off the southern coast of Italy, Malta is a picturesque gem eroded by a climate of corruption, polarization, inequality, and a virtual absence of civic spirit. In this unpromising soil, a fearless journalist took root. Daphne Caruana Galizia fashioned herself into the country’s lonely voice of conscience, her muckraking and editorializing sending shock waves that threatened to topple those in power and made her at once the island’s best-known figure and its most reviled. In 2017, a campaign of intimidation against her culminated in a car bombing that took her life.

Daphne was also the devoted and inspiring mother to three sons, who with their father have carried on the quest for justice and transparency after her death. Spellbindingly narrated by the youngest of them, the award-winning journalist Paul Caruana Galizia, A Death in Malta is at once a study in heroism and the powerful story of a family’s crusade for accountability in a society built on lies, with reverberations far beyond their homeland.

“…unforgettable, beautifully written, and deeply honest.” – John Simpson, The Guardian

“A must-read for anyone who wants to understand what it takes to be an iconoclast and a trailblazer, but also how growing impunity in a state can mount a feeling of responsibility on an individual in ways that may be necessary for some preservation of democracy… a compelling and essential book.” – Sally Hayden, The Irish Times

“Galizia recounts his mother’s extraordinary career without tipping into hagiography, and catalogs the infuriating obstacles he and his family have faced as they’ve sought answers about her death. The result is an instant classic of political true crime that will make readers’ blood boil.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Founding Partisans: Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams and the Brawling Birth of American Politics by H.W. Brands

nonfiction / history / politics.

Founding PartisansTo the framers of the Constitution, political parties were a fatal threat to republican virtues. They had suffered the consequences of partisan politics in Britain before the American Revolution, and they wanted nothing similar for America. Yet parties emerged even before the Constitution was ratified, and they took firmer root in the following decade. In Founding Partisans, master historian H. W. Brands has crafted a fresh and lively narrative of the early years of the republic as the Founding Fathers fought one another with competing visions of what our nation would be.

The first party, the Federalists, formed around Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and their efforts to overthrow the Articles of Confederation and make the federal government more robust. Their opponents organized as the Antifederalists, who feared the corruption and encroachments on liberty that a strong central government would surely bring. The Antifederalists lost but regrouped under the new Constitution as the Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, whose bruising contest against Federalist John Adams marked the climax of this turbulent chapter of American political history.

The country’s first years unfolded in a contentious spiral of ugly elections and blatant violations of the Constitution. Still, peaceful transfers of power continued, and the nascent country made its way towards global dominance, against all odds. Founding Partisans is a powerful reminder that fierce partisanship is a problem as old as the republic.

“An essential book for understanding the foundation of American partisanship.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] reliable account of the early American Republic’s political turmoil… Revolutionary War buffs will relish this.” – Publishers Weekly

The Future by Naomi Alderman

fiction / Science fiction.

The FutureWhen Martha Einkorn fled her father’s isolated compound in Oregon, she never expected to find herself working for a powerful social media mogul hell-bent on controlling everything. Now, she’s surrounded by mega-rich companies designing private weather, predictive analytics, and covert weaponry, while spouting technological prophecy. Martha may have left the cult, but if the apocalyptic warnings in her father’s fox and rabbit sermon—once a parable to her—are starting to come true, how much future is actually left?

Across the world, in a mall in Singapore, Lai Zhen, an internet-famous survivalist, flees from an assassin. She’s cornered, desperate and—worst of all—might die without ever knowing what’s going on. Suddenly, a remarkable piece of software appears on her phone telling her exactly how to escape. Who made it? What is it really for? And if those behind it can save her from danger, what do they want from her, and what else do they know about the future?

Martha and Zhen’s worlds are about to collide. An explosive chain of events is set in motion. While a few billionaires assured of their own safety lead the world to destruction, Martha’s relentless drive and Zhen’s insatiable curiosity could lead to something beautiful or the cataclysmic end of civilization.

By turns thrilling, hilarious, tender, and always piercingly brilliant, The Future unfolds at a breakneck speed, highlighting how power corrupts the few who have it and what it means to stand up to them. The future is coming. The Future is here.

“[A] daring, sexy, thrilling novel that may be the most wryly funny book about the end of civilization you’ll ever read.” – Lauren Bufferd, BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“A smart, engrossing fable about digital technology and human community.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Alderman once again places the reader in a world that is falling apart, run by greedy billionaires who don’t care what damage they do as long as they keep making more money. Look into The Future and get an idea of how that might go.” – Linda Quinn, Library Reads

“Gripping speculative fiction/CliFi. Naomi Alderman has a knack for crafting a future with enough detail to make it feel breathtakingly possible, but not overdrawn. When I finished, I wanted more time with these people and in this world.” – Liz Whitelam, Indie Next

The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan


The Happy CoupleMeet Celine and Luke. For all intents and purposes, the happy couple.

Luke (a serial cheater) and Celine (more inter­ested in piano than domestic life) plan to marry in a year.

Archie (the best man) should be moving on from his love for Luke and up the corporate ladder, but he finds himself utterly stuck.

Phoebe (the bridesmaid and Celine’s sister) just wants to get to the bottom of Luke’s frequent unexplained disappearances.

And Vivian (a wedding guest) is the only one with any emotional distance and observes her friends like ants in a colony.

As the wedding approaches and their five lives intersect, these characters will each look for a path to the happily ever after—but does it lie at the end of an aisle?

In her wry, sprightly, and unmistakable voice, Naoise Dolan makes the marriage plot entirely her own in a sparkling ensemble novel that is both ferociously clever and supremely enjoyable.

“[A] fun, addictive read laced with astute observations about modern romance.” – Kate Lloyd, Vogue

“Reading Dolan is like watching your favorite dramedy: the gossip is juicy, the stakes are ordinary yet elevated, and you’re in a little bit in love with everyone.” – Eliza Smith, Literary Hub

“Dolan’s precisely observed writing about human interactions is matched by her acute takes on everything from Irish emigration to Goldman Sachs… This novel is a joy to read.” – Literary Review

Hunt on Dark Waters by Katee Robert

fiction / romance / fantasy.

Hunt on Dark WatersEvelyn is a witch with a perfect storm of impulses: terrible taste in bed partners, sticky fingers, and a lust for danger. After she steals from her vampire ex and falls through a portal to another realm, she’s fished out of the waters by a band of seafarers and their telekinetic captain. She’s immediately given a choice—join their ship’s crew or die.

Bowen has no memory of his life before he became one of the Cŵn Annwn. He and his band of pirates are bound by vow to patrol through Threshold, the magical sea in between realms, keeping the portals to other worlds safe. When he rescues Evelyn, he doesn’t expect to be attracted to the unflappably brassy pickpocket. The longer he spends in her presence, the more he begins to question if his heart is the next thing she’ll steal.

But as tension heats up between Bowen and Evelyn, the danger at sea escalates as well. Because Evelyn has no intention of keeping her vows to the Cŵn Annwn, and if she betrays the crew, both she and Bowen will pay the ultimate price…

Hunt on Dark Waters is a fast-paced and delightful fever dream of fantasy creatures, mysterious magic and sizzling sexual innuendo… [it] stands out for its sheer entertainment and excitement. It’s ‘yes and…’ from the very first page. Embrace the chaos.” – Amanda Diehl, BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

“…fun and exciting… Robert fans will enjoy this fresh, new setting on the high seas, as well as the enticing spice.” – Lindsey Allen, Booklist

“[A] delightful series opener… that both embraces and subverts expectations… the plot is fraught with danger and treachery, keeping the pages turning. This promises more good things to come in future installments.” – Publishers Weekly

In the Pines: A Lynching, a Lie, a Reckoning by Grace Elizabeth Hale

nonfiction / memoir / true crime / history.

In the PinesGrace Hale was home from college when she first heard the family legend. In 1947, while her beloved grandfather had been serving as a sheriff in the Piney Woods of south-central Mississippi, he prevented a lynch mob from killing a Black man who was in his jail on suspicion of raping a white woman—only for the suspect to die the next day during an escape attempt. It was a tale straight out of To Kill a Mockingbird, with her grandfather as the tragic hero. This story, however, hid a dark truth.

Years later, as a rising scholar of white supremacy, Hale revisited the story about her grandfather and Versie Johnson, the man who died in his custody. The more she learned about what had happened that day, the less sense she could make of her family’s version of events. With the support of a Carnegie fellowship, she immersed herself in the investigation. What she discovered would upend everything she thought she knew about her family, the tragedy, and this haunted strip of the South—because Johnson’s death, she found, was actually a lynching. But guilt did not lie with a faceless mob.

A story of obsession, injustice, and the ties that bind, In the Pines casts an unsparing eye over this intimate terrain, driven by a deep desire to set straight the historical record and to understand and subvert white racism, along with its structures, costs, and consequences—and the lies that sustain it.

“…riveting… Hale’s narrative is both deeply personal and steeped in the history of the rural Deep South. It’s a harrowing look at white supremacist violence and the lies that allowed it to flourish.” – Publishers Weekly

“[Hale’s] new book is more than just history from the archives… she couldn’t help the United States reexamine its history without reckoning with her own.” – Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times

In the Pines is elevated by lovely writing: ‘Family trees are metaphors. They share with pines both a basic structure and a tendency to flourish only when conditions are right.’ It is also marked by incisive thinking about race in history and in the present. Hale’s work is a significant contribution to that larger conversation.” – Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yaros

fiction / fantasy / romance.

Iron FlameEveryone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

“[A] sexy fantasy about telepathic dragons and their riders…” – Alexandra Alter, New York Times

“…Yarros’ epic romantasy book that the internet can’t get enough of… It has adventure! Danger! Secrets! Romance!” – Bryanna Cappadona, Today

The Liberators by E.J. Koh

fiction / historical fiction.

The LiberatorsAt the height of the military dictatorship in South Korea, Insuk and Sungho are arranged to be married. The couple soon moves to San Jose, California, with an infant and Sungho’s overbearing mother-in-law. Adrift in a new country, Insuk grieves the loss of her past and her divided homeland, finding herself drawn into an illicit relationship that sets into motion a dramatic saga and echoes for generations to come.

From the Gwangju Massacre to the 1988 Olympics, flashbacks to Korean repatriation after Japanese surrender, and the Sewol ferry accident, E. J. Koh’s exquisitely drawn portraits and symphonic testimony from guards, prisoners, perpetrators, and liberators spans continents and four generations of two Korean families forever changed by fateful past decisions made in love and war. Extraordinarily beautiful and deeply moving, The Liberators is an elegantly wrought family saga of memory, trauma, and empathy, and a stunning testament to the consequences and fortunes of inheritance.

“[A] soaring multigenerational saga about learning to accept the past without letting it overshadow the future.” – Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“…Koh’s singular grasp of language results in achingly beautiful writing.” – Hannah Bae, San Francisco Chronicle

“…moving and lyrical… Koh has fully harnessed her potential in this assured outing.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A mesmerizing, delicately crafted novel about survival in the wake of civil war and transpacific imperialism.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand

nonfiction / memoir / music / film.

My Name is BarbraBarbra Streisand is by any account a living legend, a woman who in a career spanning six decades has excelled in every area of entertainment. She is among the handful of EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and has one of the greatest and most recognizable voices in the history of popular music. She has been nominated for a Grammy 46 times, and with Yentl she became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major motion picture.

In My Name Is Barbra, she tells her own story about her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in New York nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl (musical and film) to the long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed. The book is, like Barbra herself, frank, funny, opinionated, and charming. She recounts her early struggles to become an actress, eventually turning to singing to earn a living;the recording of some of her acclaimed albums; the years of effort involved in making Yentl; her direction of The Prince of Tides; her friendships with figures ranging from Marlon Brando to Madeleine Albright; her political advocacy; and the fulfillment she’s found in her marriage to James Brolin.

No entertainer’s memoir has been more anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s, and this engrossing and delightful book will be eagerly welcomed by her millions of fans.

“Barbra Streisand is opening up like never before.” – Rachel DeSantis, People

“…chatty and candid… a 970-page victory lap past all who ever doubted, diminished or dissed her, with lingering high fives for the many supporters… [a] banquet of a book.” – Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times

“She recounts her life as a series of odysseys, and she the ever triumphant victor. Frankly, she’s earned it… in a society that tends to value women’s passivity while lauding their accomplishments in hindsight, it’s a distinct pleasure to look back with My Name Is Barbra and marvel at how the real she came to be.” – Brittany Luse, NPR

Pandora’s Box: How Guts, Guile, and Greed Upended TV by Peter Biskind

nonfiction / history / television.

Pandora's BoxWe are now lucky enough to be living through the era of so-called Peak TV, in which television, in its various guises and formats, has seized the entertainment mantle from movies and dominates our leisure time. How and why this happened is the subject of this book.

Instead of focusing on one service, like HBO, Pandora’s Box asks, “What did HBO do, besides give us The Sopranos?” The answer: It gave us a revolution. Biskind bites off a big chunk of entertainment history, following HBO from its birth into maturity, moving on to the basic cablers like FX and AMC, and ending up with the streamers and their wars, pitting Netflix against Amazon Prime Video, Max, and the killer pluses—Disney, Apple TV, and Paramount.

Since the creative and business sides of TV are thoroughly entwined, Biskind examines both, and the interplay between them. Through frank and shockingly intimate interviews with creators and executives, Pandora’s Box investigates the dynamic interplay of commerce and art through the lens the game-changing shows they aired—not only old warhorses like The Sopranos, but recent shows like The White Lotus, Succession, and Yellow– (both –stone and –jackets)—as windows into the byzantine practices of the players as they use money and guile to destroy their competitors.

In the end, this book crystal-balls the future in light of the success and failures of the streamers that, after apparently clearing the board, now face life-threatening problems, some self-created, some not. With its long view and short takes—riveting snapshots of behind-the-scenes mischief—Pandora’s Box is the only book you’ll need to read to understand what’s on your small screen and how it got there.

“This gossip-filled overview of the past 40 years of television will keep readers glued to their seats.” – Publishers Weekly

“Biskind is known as much for his outspoken opinions as his insightful commentary, and Pandora’s Box is Biskind at his most candid. For readers interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the world of television, a must-read.” – David Pitt, Booklist

Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly

fiction / mystery / suspense.

Resurrection WalkDefense attorney Mickey Haller is back, taking the long shot cases, where the chances of winning are one in a million. After getting a wrongfully convicted man out of prison, he is inundated with pleas from incarcerated people claiming innocence. He enlists his half brother, retired LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, to weed through the letters, knowing most claims will be false.

Bosch pulls a needle from the haystack: a woman in prison for killing her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, but who still maintains her innocence. Bosch reviews the case and sees elements that don’t add up, and a sheriff’s department intent on bringing quick justice in the killing of one of its own.

Now Haller has an uphill battle in court, a David fighting Goliaths to vindicate his client. The path for both lawyer and investigator is fraught with danger from those who don’t want the case reopened and will stop at nothing to keep the Haller-Bosch dream team from finding the truth. Packed with intrigue and courtroom drama, Resurrection Walk shows once again that Michael Connelly is “the most consistently superior living crime fiction author” (South Florida Sun Sentinel).

“As always, Connelly, who won the Edgar Grand Master Award in 2023, makes the tedious work of investigation fascinating as he shuttles between Mickey’s and Harry’s hard-bitten points of view.” – Connie Fletcher, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Another solid series installment from Connelly. This Lincoln Lawyer/Harry Bosch crossover is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats as Mickey absorbs each legal setback.” – Vicki Briner, Library Journal

Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park

fiction / historical fiction / science fiction.

Same Bed Different DreamsIn 1919, far-flung patriots establish the Korean Provisional Government to protest the Japanese occupation of their country. This government-in-exile proves mostly symbolic, though, and after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the KPG dissolves and civil war erupts, resulting in the tragic North-South split that remains today.

But what if the KPG still existed—now working toward a unified Korea, secretly pulling levers to further its aims? Same Bed Different Dreams weaves together three distinct narrative voices with an archive of mysterious images, and twists reality like a kaleidoscope. Korean history, American pop culture, and our tech-fraught lives come together in this extraordinary and unforgettable novel.

Soon Sheen, a former writer now employed by the tech behemoth GLOAT, comes into possession of an unfinished book seemingly authored by the KPG. The manuscript is a riveting revisionist history, connecting famous names and obscure bit players to the KPG’s grand project—everyone from Syngman Rhee and architect-poet Yi Sang to Jack London and Marilyn Monroe. M*A*S*H is in here, too, as are the Moonies and a history of violence extending from the assassination of President McKinley to the Reagan-era downing of a passenger plane that puts the world on the brink of war.

From the acclaimed author of Personal Days, Same Bed Different Dreams is a raucously funny feat of imagination and a thrilling meld of history and fiction that pulls readers into another dimension—one in which utopia is possible.

“A brash, rangy, sui generis feat of speculative fiction.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Riotous erudition runs rampant through Park’s new novel… For audiences wondering how much is ‘true,’ an open browser is recommended. But be warned. Park blurs fact and fiction so seamlessly that search results will undoubtedly surprise if not shock, albeit not without reverential delight.” – Terry Hong, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Cameo appearances by historical figures like Syngman Rhee, Sun Myung Moon, Ronald Reagan, and Phillip K. Dick underscore their connections to the literature, film, and politics that have created and divided the Koreas of today; this playfully serious must-read is highly recommended.” – Henry Bankhead, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[An] ingenious postmodern epic of colonial and postcolonial Korea framed in a satire of America’s publishing and tech industries… This tribute to the fractured peninsula’s citizens, diaspora, and allies is one for the ages.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul by Tracy K. Smith

nonfiction / memoir / history.

To Free the CaptivesIn 2020, heartsick from constant assaults on Black life, Tracy K. Smith found herself soul-searching and digging into the historical archive for help navigating the “din of human division and strife.” With lyricism and urgency, Smith draws on several avenues of thinking—personal, documentary, and spiritual—to understand who we are as a nation and what we might hope to mean to one another.

In Smith’s own words, “To write a book about Black strength, Black continuance, and the powerful forms of belief and community that have long bolstered the soul of my people, I used the generations of my own patrilineal family to lean backward toward history, to gather a fuller sense of the lives my own ancestors led, the challenges they endured, and the sources of hope and bolstering they counted on. What this process has led me to believe is that all of us, in the here and now, can choose to work alongside the generations that precede us in tending to America’s oldest wounds and meeting the urgencies of our present.”

To Free the Captives touches down in Sunflower, Alabama, the red-dirt town where Smith’s father’s family comes from, and where her grandfather returned after World War I with a hero’s record but difficult prospects as a Black man. Smith considers his life and the life of her father through the lens of history. Hoping to connect with their strength and continuance, she assembles a new terminology of American life.

Bearing courageous witness to the terms of Freedom afforded her as a Black woman, a mother, and an educator in the twenty-first century, Smith etches a portrait of where we find ourselves four hundred years into the American experiment. Weaving in an account of her growing spiritual practice, she argues that the soul is not merely a private site of respite or transcendence, but a tool for fulfilling our duties to each other, and a sounding board for our most pressing collective questions: Where are we going as a nation? Where have we been?

“…powerful… A lyrical memoir conveys an urgent message.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…elegant… The juxtaposition of her family’s stories with the Black experience in the U.S. feels like a journey toward a greater understanding, one readers are lucky to be invited to take.” – Allison Escoto, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] searing manifesto on the power of collective ritual in confronting the persistence of violence and racism against Black people in America.” – Megan McCluskey, Time

“[Smith] writes prose at once dazzling and exacting. On nearly every page of this book is a phrase or sentence to marvel over, a word (usually an adjective) so unexpectedly apt that it freshens familiar language… To Free the Captives is so luscious that it often reads less like a collection of essays than like a work of prose poetry.” – Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post

The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez


The VulnerablesElegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in Sigrid Nunez’s ninth novel. The Vulnerables offers a meditation on our contemporary era, as a solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past.

Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress. A search for understanding about some of the most critical matters of our time, Nunez’s new novel is also an inquiry into the nature and purpose of writing itself.

“Sharp—and surprisingly tender.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Above all, The Vulnerables is about how we navigate the bizarre and hostile climates we’re still living through; how we find meaning in being there for each other in some capacity… a novel that cracks open windows and offers a reassuring breeze, reminding us that it’s OK — and perhaps even necessary — to need each other; it’s only human.” – Michelle Kicherer, San Francisco Chronicle

“Nunez is one of our best writers on animals and the strange, touching bonds we form with them… [Her] rare ability to be at once wistfully elegiac and sharply hilarious make The Vulnerables a gift.” – Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe

“Calling on a vast store of memories lived, read, and written about, the narrator is serious and silly, optimistic and devastating, lighting readers’ way through a dark and disconnected time, joyfully.” – Annie Bostrom, Booklist

We Are the Crisis by Cadwell Turnbull

fiction / fantasy / horror.

We Are the CrisisThree years after the Monster Massacre, members of Rebecca’s old wolf pack have begun to go missing without a trace.

The world has undergone many changes in the years since monsters came out of the shadows. An anti-monster group known as the Black Hand has started to organize across the United States. In response, pro-monster organizations have been growing in numbers and militancy. Targeted killings of suspected monsters and their allies, monsters spirited away in the dead of night, and the beginnings of pro-monster legislation are all signs of a cosmic shift on the horizon. Is there any hope for lasting peace? Or are these events just precursors to a devastating monster-human war?

Meanwhile, beneath it all, two ancient orders escalate their mysterious conflict, revealing dangerous secrets about the gods and the very origins of magic in the universe…

“Turnbull continues to use his deft prose to tie themes of hate, social change, and backlash into an enthralling fantasy series in this sequel to the much-lauded No Gods, No Monsters.” – Kristi Chadwick, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Rich, brilliant, and often sad, because this contemporary fantasy pulls no punches; blood will regretfully be spilled.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] powerful and intricate sequel… The exploration of otherness, class, and race is as nuanced and robust as ever as Turnbull expands the scope of the ‘monsterverse,’ taking on—and reveling in—the political complexities of this supernatural world. Fans of book one won’t want to miss this.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW


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