I feel like I say it every time but Laura Lippman just keeps getting better with each book. Though she could have rested on her laurels many times over, she continues to challenge herself and the reader with unexplored corners of her literary Baltimore. In her latest, more horror than mystery, an author way past his artistic zenith is recuperating from an accident when he is contacted by a mysterious woman who claims to be the protaganist of his greatest novel. A person who doesn't exist. Is it the pain meds, madness or the dementia that runs in his family? Biting, absorbing and ruthlessly smart , Dream Girl promises to be the 'of the moment' thrill ride of 2021.
Vlautin's new novel is an of the moment story of gentrification in Portland that shows how economic desperation puts the squeeze on everyday working people. But unlike his other novels, which also highlight the struggles of similiar folk, this one is paced like a thriller (albeit with kitchen table stakes) unfolding over a breathless 48 hours with nailbiting suspense and no good choices. A must read for anyone who has ever had to sweat the rent.
For her third novel Berry pivots impressively from damp British horror to a gripping story of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Tessa is a new mom and a producer for the BBC who is reveiwing security tape from an IRA raid when she sees her sister, Marian. Does she have a spy in the family? What she discovers when her life is irrevocably changed make for a heartfelt and personal espionage story.
Jayne fled from Texas to NYC with her overachiever big sis June, then their relationship fell apart. Now, drifting through a quarterlife crisis filled with bulimia and bad behavior, she gets the news that June is sick. Full of wry humor, romance and drama this novel excels at family-how complicated, infuriating and absolutely necessary it is.
When the strength of the ties that bind are tested, good stories ensue. Such is the propulsive new novel (by the author of the bestseller The Nest) which examines the creative family that forms around a theatrical company and what happens when a long held secret is revealed, changing lives and upending relationships previously assumed solid.
"The pages turn fast and the girls are complex, compelling and written with incredible tenderness. Layden excels at rendering the everyday details of boarding school life." ––New York Times
"Sharp, engrossing."––Town & Country
"An insightful prep school drama"––People
After losing her publishing job after an ill advised workplace romance, Florence is at loose ends, trying but never quite actually writing her novel, until she lands an assistant gig to the mysterious reclusive writer, Maud Dixon. At first symbiotic, their relationship takes a turn for the worse on a research trip to Morocco when Florence wakes up in the hospital after an accident she can't quite remember. Meticulously plotted, this Ripley for the 21st century will delight mystery readers who relish a deft plot twist.
When Louise's beloved dog dies she takes her grief to a nearby island where she meets a mysterious bear who helps her navigate her sadness. Lovely and perceptive, this picture books reassures readers of any age that bereavement is not linear and while the changes it brings are strange they are not unnavigable.
"Reno Divorce" entered the lexicon because a divorce could be processed there after only 30 days residency. Naturally a cottage industry sprung up to house the visitors (almost exclusively women) cooling their heels until they could get unhitched. This delightful romp of a novel is a flashback from one of the cowboys who worked at a dude ranch catering to these women in the 1940's and the many hijinks that ensued.
This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.
In her second standalone, Tana French takes the American crime subgenre 'grit lit' across the pond. Though the plot description sounds hoary-Chicago cop escapes urban crime in the Irish countryside only to get mixed up in a dangerous missing person hunt- with a healthy dollop of Western trappings (mysterious lawman comes to town among others) and her own ear for pitch perfect dialogue, French makes it all vivid and fresh.
Willy Vlautin is the perfect author for 2020. Unsparing and unsentimental, he writes about the unlucky poor, the forgotten and the marginalized, bestowing earned grace on lives not usually portrayed on bestseller lists. The Free, which tells the story of the desparate intersecting lives at a veteran's group home, is now available in an exclusive small format Olive Edition.
The bookseller in me loves Monogamy because it accurately and lovingly portrays indie bookstore life. The heart in me loves it for its unblinking look at a longterm relationship. And the sad in me loves how it depicts grief-not only not linear at all but at times not even sensical.
If you are looking for a well written read that's sure to delight you can do no better than Christine Coulson's debut novel, which takes the reader behind the scenes at New York's Met Museum, ground the author knows well from her 25 years of service there. Told in bite sized vignettes that range from randy to poignant, everyone from the museum director to the man who minds the bags in the gift shop (even the art itself) all are brought vividly to life. Do your anxious pysche a favor and read this book!
This powerful memoir about the author's decade long struggle with the mysterious title illness is sad, gruesome and infuriating. It is also inspiring and could well be a lifeline for the right reader. Her points about women being unheard or dismissed as patients and how wearying the medical merry-go-round is will ring true to fellow sufferers, which may be the book's greatest contribution-the much needed message that 'you are not alone'.
Large and intimidating? Yes. Absolutely necessary for understanding how we got here? Also yes. Besides highlighting educational gaps, of which the average reader will likely find many, Dr. Kendi's book provides a clear throughline through American history that clarifies the rotten systemic whole. Grab a highlighter and prepare to have your mind blown.
The Vanishing Half tells the story of two African American twins and how, when they flee their small Louisiana town as teens, one passes as white. How her choice echoes and haunts the family for generations allows Bennett to probe racism from fresh perspectives. Thought provoking and masterfully written, this one deserves every bit of praise it's receiving and then some.
Bob is back! The irascible stray with a heart of gold gets to be the hero and save the day in this sweet and redemptive sequel to The One and Only Ivan. Full of warmth, with appearances by Ivan, Ruby and all the gang, this sequel is so welcome. Fans of the original will not be disappointed.
You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!
Plucky Emmeline Lake just wants to do her part for the war effort. When she lands a job at the London Evening Chronicle she pictures herself as FEMALE WAR CORROSPONDENT. Alas, the job is actually assisting the formidible Henrietta Bird, the maddening advice columnist who refuses to actually offer any. So softhearted Emmy decides to answer a few letters on the sly because what could go wrong? How she copes with real life in wartorn London with her vibrant spirit intact makes for a delicious and uplifting treat for readers.
This unrelenting portrait of the greedy squandering of our precious natural resources is both a beautiful excursion into the heart of human darkness and a brutal story that squarely combats the myth of the West. A forerunner of Cormac McCarthy, this is an underappreciated great that clamors for a wider audience.
When Jessilyn Harney, a protaganist True Grit's Maddie Ross would call kin, is orphaned in the post Civil War West she disguises herself as a boy and sets out to find her outlaw brother, who's become something of a folk hero. Told in a wry and weary voice, in this debut Western, as in all the classic ones, the journey takes the measure of and makes the man.
It seems impolite to laugh at a character who is lost, unsure and not finding anything on their journey to find themself but when they are as smart and sardonic as Ava, the heroine (?) of this debut you can't not laugh. Billed as the new Sallt Rooney, Nolan does have the ear for language but with more tenderness and humor. One to watch!
As a reader I admire writers who cast a wide story net, full of disparate threads that don’t seem to have anything in common, then pull it all tightly together. Emily St John Mandel excels at that in her latest, non dystopian, novel. The Glass Hotel is a story of ghosts, Ponzi schemes and feeling lost in your own life but more important than any mere plot description is the feeling this novel rises in the reader, feelings that aren’t easy to shake even when the last page is turned.
Filled with creeping dread and contagion, this historical novel tells the story of an out of favor Transcendentalist and his daughter who start a school for girls in 1871. When things start to go terribly wrong in ways that challenge their beliefs and bond the results make this imaginary history seems all too timely.
Jiles' usual wry, laconic style is in full bloom in this Western quest story about a poor musician seeking love and a home in messy Post Civil War Texas. Her gifted characterizations and deft hand at making the historical not at all old fashioned give her work a personal urgency sure to please readers.
Like Fates & Furies on a boat, this HE SAID/SHE SAID story chronicles a family who left everything behind to make the husband's dream voyage. How it both brings them together and tears them apart makes a for a compelling read that is equal part adventure and rich interior drama.