April 2024


Bitti, GwenBetween two worlds
Dal Monte, LucaEnzo ferrari
Malleson, Lucy BeatriceThree-a-penny
Stewart, J. I. M.Myself and Michael Innes

Enzo Ferrari by Luca Dal Monte

Soon to be an AppleTV+ series, this is the definitive account of how Enzo Ferrari became the master of motor racing, and one of the most complex, important and imposing figures in the 20th century. The book draws upon years of original research, conducted in Italy and abroad, and unveils hidden aspects of Ferrari’s career – from his early days as a racer, to how he founded the Ferrari company, and even his dealings with the Italian Fascist government and Communist leaders. Learn how Ferrari pushed his drivers to the brink of disaster, revolutionised the automobile industry and overcame family and company infighting on his rise to greatness. Luca Dal Monte, born in 1963 in Cremona, Italy, is an accomplished author and automotive industry veteran. After graduating with a degree in US history and political sciences, Luca served as the first Chief Press Officer for the Province of Cremona. He was enlisted for military service, and then worked for Cremona’s La Provincia newspaper, before securing a job at the Italian branch of the French carmaker Peugeot in 1991. This initiated a fantastic journey into the automobile industry, and consequent roles with Toyota, Pirelli, Ferrari and Maserati. His automotive and writing experiences culminated in the publication of his debut novel La Scuderia in 2009. Today, Enzo Ferrari: The Definitive Biography of an Icon stands as Luca’s long-cherished project, offering a unique angle on a towering 20th-century figure. Good Reading Magazine

Myself and Michael Innes by J. I. M. Stewart

A retired professor who has taught in Britain, Australia, Northern Ireland and America, James Stewart has written novels and books of literary criticism but is better known as Michael Innes, author of tales of mystery, adventure and detection. In this tantalizingly brief memoir of his boyhood in Edinburgh, student years at Oxford and teaching experiences, he presents anecdotes and vignettes about mentors, associates, neighbors and acquaintances but tells very little about his personal life, his wife and five children. That he also includes a radio script, a short story and a scanty excursus on the detective story will hardly satisfy admirers of this clever, witty novelist. Publishers Weekly, November 1988



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Baldacci, DavidA calamity of souls
Byrne, JamesThe gatekeeper
Fforde, JasperRed side story
Finn, A. J.End of story
Fisher, TarrynGood half gone
French, JackieThe sea captain’s wife
Garcia Marquez, GabrielUntil august
Harper, GeorgiaWhat I would do to you
Jones, GailOne another
Keegan, ClaireSo late in the day
Lee-Kennedy, BrydieGo lightly
Lette, KathyThe revenge club
Mayne, KerrynJoy Moody is out of time
Milligan, LouisePheasants nest
Nash, BruceAll the words we know
Neeme, ImbiKind of, sort of, maybe, but probably not
Nunn, JudyBlack sheep
Palmisano, ErinThe secrets of the little Greek taverna
Pattison, C. L.The florist
Shrimpton, PhyllidaEvery shade of happy
Simsion, Graeme C.The glass house
Tate, AshleyTwenty-seven minutes

End of Story by A.J. Finn

From its gothic opening image of a woman face-down in a koi pond to its stunning cliffside climax, this spellbinder surpasses the high bar set by Finn’s bestselling debut, The Woman in the Window. Readers are immediately plunged into the world of Sebastian Trapp, a reclusive novelist made rich by a long-running detective series and notorious by personal tragedy. On New Year’s Eve 20 years earlier, Sebastian’s first wife and teenaged son disappeared from separate locations, and Sebastian remains, in the public eye, the primary person of interest. Recently diagnosed with kidney failure and given months to live, Sebastian invites—to the consternation of his second wife, Diana, and adult daughter, Madeleine—Manhattan crime fiction critic Nicky Hunter to move into his Victorian San Francisco mansion while interviewing him for a private memoir. From there, a cat-and-mouse game unfolds as Nicky and Sebastian, both charming but perhaps equally unreliable, chase each other through the labyrinth of Sebastian’s life toward the secrets at its core. Meanwhile, Madeleine receives unsettling texts from someone purporting to be her long-lost younger sibling. Given the grand surroundings and rich array of eccentric characters, comparisons to the Knives Out film franchise will be inevitable, but Finn cuts much deeper. More than a mere puzzle, this elegant symphony of ghosts and fog concerns the nature of storytelling itself—and the crucial art of crafting one’s own narrative. It’s a tour de force. Publishers Weekly, February 2024.

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

Keegan (Foster) imbues the three stories in her exquisite collection with the keen awareness of human fallibility characteristic of her previous work. The title story is set on a momentous day in the life of Cathal, whom the reader meets while he shuffles through dull office work and contemplates his own foibles. By the time he’s home alone with his cat and a microwave dinner, he’s revealed himself to be a lonely and hateful man who, because of his lack of generosity, has just lost something irretrievable. In “The Long and Painful Death,” set at a remote seaside writer’s retreat, a woman cleverly repurposes a middle-aged German professor’s crusty misogyny for her own creative ends. “Antarctica” is the terrifying story of a happily married woman’s ill-fated quest for a moment of sexual fulfillment with another man during the Christmas holidays. Each of Keegan’s male characters is culpable in whatever trouble they get themselves into. Her women have agency, but are shackled by the poisonous attitudes of the men they encounter. Written over a span of 20 years, these pristine stories demonstrate the author’s genius for economy. Keegan says in a paragraph what other writers take entire novels to reveal. Publishers Weekly, August 2023

A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci

Bestseller Baldacci’s stirring latest (after Simply Lies) finds Black Vietnam veteran Jerome Washington on trial in 1968 Virginia for murdering Leslie and Anne Randolph, his married white employers and two of the most prominent citizens in fiercely segregated Freeman County. After washing the Randolphs’ Buick, Jerome entered their house to get his weekly pay, only to find their bloody corpses on the floor. He tried to “help them out,” he says, by moving them off the ground, but just as he was propping Anne up into a chair, the police arrived and placed him under arrest. Certain of his innocence, Jerome’s grandmother-in-law reaches out to Jack Lee, a local white criminal defense lawyer, who agrees to take the racially charged case despite his lack of experience with murder trials. Feeling immediately out of his depth, Jack teams up with Desiree DuBose, a Black attorney at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund; together, they work to save Jerome from the electric chair. Baldacci generates satisfying tension from Jack and Desiree’s clashing personalities, and his real-life experiences both as an attorney and as a child in 1960s Virginia lend the proceedings an air of uncommon authenticity. This ranks among the author’s best. Publishers Weekly, February 2024


The Gatekeeper by James Byrne

Byrne’s promising debut introduces Dez Limerick, a retired mercenary “gatekeeper” who can hack into security and information systems—and plays guitar gigs in his spare time. After a show in California, Dez foils a kidnapping attempt targeting Petra Alexandris, the smart scion of a major military contractor. Impressed, Petra hires him to investigate a billion-dollar embezzlement from her family’s company. After confronting the few company officers who could have pulled it off and getting denials, Dez follows leads on the kidnapping with help from an LAPD detective and his gut feeling the kidnappers were military trained. He also shakes loose, with some strong-arming, a plot to form a breakaway white nationalist ethno-state in Northern California and heads north from Los Angeles to investigate, finding militias from across the country converging after being riled up by an incendiary media company. As Dez tries to thwart a scheme to use a nuclear power plant as a bargaining chip, Petra uncovers a complex conspiracy that leads to a nail-biting final standoff. Byrne describes frantic events in an unfussy, direct style that matches Dez’s collected demeanor. Fans of action-packed political thrillers will enjoy getting to know this charming new hero. Publishers Weekly, March 2022


Go Lightly by Brydie Lee-Kennedy

Screenwriter Lee-Kennedy pivots to romance fiction with the low-key tale of a bisexual love triangle between 20-something slackers. Aspiring actor Ada Highfield, living the single life in London with her more responsible roommate, Mel, leaves a performance at the Edinburgh Fringe with two romantic opportunities: there’s fellow Australian Sadie, who Ada hooked up with after clubbing, and Liverpudlian Stuart, with whom she begins a text-based flirtation. When Sadie’s living situation suddenly sours, she moves in with Ada and the two resume hooking up, even as things deepen between Ada and Stuart. While trying to stay solvent and measuring herself against her sister’s more traditional life as a new mother in Florida, Ada leans into the thrill of both budding relationships. Lee-Kennedy showcases her flair for dialogue both in the apartment’s household dynamic and in the sense of cautiously building interest in Stuart and Ada’s texts. Though Ada is introduced as an impulsive free spirit, she, and by extension the novel itself, is surprisingly timid after the steamy opening. Despite a promise of playfulness, the story delivers far more understated anxiety. Still, Lee-Kennedy’s witty approach to the realities of modern dating is sure to draw readers in. Publishers Weekly, January 2024


The Secrets of the Little Greek Taverna by  Erin Palmisano

An American consumed with wanderlust comes to a Greek island where she feels strangely at home among the locals. Palmisano’s debut overflows with the features of romantic escapism: beautiful scenery, delicious food, women empowered by gentle magical powers, and a variety of romances in which love must conquer complications. Since graduating from college seven years ago, the plucky heroine, Marjory “Jory” St. James, has worked as a waitress (proudly eschewing her estranged father’s wealth) to pay for her frequent travels. She heads, purposely without a guidebook, to the Greek island of Naxos and finds lodging in a village called Potamia. Oddly and too conveniently, she is the only tourist in a town touristy enough that an international boutique hotel chain wants to purchase the guesthouse where she’s staying. Jory becomes enmeshed in the lives of three villagers with special powers received from female ancestors and a magic stream. Guesthouse owner Cressida Thermopolis’ cooking imparts emotions with transformative powers to those who partake. Elderly Mago’s power lies in her ability to sew exactly what the wearer needs. Unhappily married Nefeli sees “portents.” But the three women are also suffering, Cressida emotionally immobilized after her young husband’s death, Mago afraid to marry her longtime lover because she might have cancer, and Nefeli unable to express love to or receive love from her husband. If Jory’s full-throttle acceptance by the others as they eat exquisite meals and share emotional wisdom is implausibly easy, plausibility is not the point. Meanwhile, Jory meets the obligatory handsome stranger, another seemingly footloose American traveler, and their mutual attraction overpowers her self-proclaimed desire to avoid emotional entanglement. But is he to be trusted? And will all these women come to grips with their fears and their powers to shape their futures? Is there any doubt? Complete with a section of travel tips and a favorite recipe, Palmisano’s novel coddles the reader like an airplane blanket. Kirkus Review, March 2024

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Celestin, RayPalace of shadows
Quinn, KateThe phoenix crown

The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn

Quinn (The Diamond Eye) and Chang (The Porcelain Moon) team up for a stirring story involving opera, prized antiquities, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Gemma Garland, a soprano in New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is hoping to revive her lagging career. Shortly after her arrival with the Met’s traveling company in San Francisco, where she’s slated to perform with Enrico Caruso, Gemma meets and falls for charming railroad magnate Henry Thornton. Soon, she’s singing at his house for members of high society. Her affection for Henry curdles, however, after she learns about his dark side from Chinese embroiderer Suling Feng, whom Henry has hired to mend a damaged robe from a Beijing palace. Among his other collectibles is an ornate crown, also taken from the palace. It turns out Suling’s lover Reggie has disappeared, and she tells Gemma that Henry is to blame. The women confront him just as the earthquake hits, after which Henry and the crown disappear. The authors ably develop the two main characters as they discover a shared sense of independence and join in common cause while reckoning with the mixed blessings of a powerful man’s patronage. Readers of historicals with strong female leads will savour this. Publishers Weekly, April 2023.

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Bailey, SarahBody of lies
Bennett, S. J.A death in diamonds
Bowen, RhysAll that is hidden
Box, C. J.Three-inch teeth
Fluke, JoanneCoconut layer cake murder
Fox, CandiceDevil’s kitchen
French, NicciHas anyone seen Charlotte Salter?
French, TanaThe hunter
Gardner, LisaStill see you everywhere
Gentill, SulariThe mystery writer
Gold, RobertTen seconds
Hampson, AmandaThe cryptic clue
Horst, Jorn LierSnow fall
Lodge, GythaLittle sister
McTiernan, DervlaWhat happened to Nina?
Miller, C. L.The antique hunter’s guide to murder
Moncrieff, AdaMurder at maybridge castle
Patterson, JamesAlex Cross must die
Perry, AnneA traitor among us
Quinn, CateThe clinic
Sullivan, TimThe dentist
Thomson, GlennaGone
Upson, NicolaShot with crimson

The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder by C.L. Miller

Miller’s winning debut exposes the dark underbelly of the antiques trade. Forty-something Freya Lockwood is facing a personal crisis: her daughter has gone off to college, and her ex-husband has put the house where she’s lived for many years up for sale. While bracing for an inevitable eviction, Freya receives word that Arthur Crockleford, an antiques dealer in the English village of Little Meddington, has died and left his business to her and her aunt Carole. Twenty years earlier, Freya was Arthur’s partner in tracking down valuable antiquities, but an incident on their final trip together led her to break with Arthur and leave the profession. After Arthur’s funeral, Freya and Carole are given a cryptic letter in which Arthur asks Freya to track down an unnamed “item of great value.” If she does so, he promises, she will get her former life and career back. Following Arthur’s clues, Freya slowly comes to realize she’s also on the trail of his murderer. Miller nails the pace and mood of a good mystery on her first try, and Freya is a hugely appealing protagonist. Readers will be clamoring for a sequel. Publishers Weekly, November 2023.


Coconut Layer Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

In bestseller Fluke’s pleasing 25th Hannah Swensen mystery (after 2019’s Chocolate Cream Pie Murder), bakery shop owner and amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen cuts short her California vacation and rushes home to Lake Eden, Minn., after receiving an emergency call from her sister, Michelle. Darcy Hicks, a high school classmate of Michelle’s police detective boyfriend, Lonnie , has been murdered, and the primary suspect is Lonnie. The night before the murder, Lonnie took Darcy home from a bar and passed out in her house, where he discovered her dead the next morning. Obviously, Lonnie can’t investigate, and neither can his partner on the force, Mike , so Hannah’s detecting skills are needed more than ever. Together with friends and family, including Mike, Hannah sets out to learn the truth, and, as she eliminates one potential killer after another, things begin to look even darker for Lonnie. Mouthwatering recipes and diverting subplots add to the fun. Fluke demonstrates why she’s considered the queen of culinary cozies. Publisher’s Weekly, January 2020



All That Is Hidden by Rhys Bowen

It’s 1907 in Bowen’s mildly diverting 19th Molly Murphy mystery, the second coauthored with her daughter (after 2022’s Wild Irish Rose), and Molly’s police captain husband, Daniel Sullivan, has some shocking news for her. Despite Daniel’s previous clashes with Tammany Hall, he’s accepted their offer to serve as the city’s sheriff. Plus, he’s agreed to move his family into a fancy Fifth Avenue home that’s a perk of the position. Molly eventually overcomes her anger at not being consulted before her spouse made these decisions, as they lead to multiple mysteries for her to probe. She’s a passenger on a tour boat belonging to Daniel’s corrupt patron, Big Bill McCormick, when a fire breaks out, the second such conflagration on one of McCormick’s vessels, leading her to suspect arson. The authors also toss in a fatal stabbing in a locked room. There are the usual number of contrivances, such as someone rescued from a perilous situation turning out to have an influential parent. This collaboration offers familiar pleasures for series followers. Publishers Weekly, November 2023



Three-Inch Teeth by C. J. Box

Box’s pulse-pounding latest adventure for Wyoming game warden Pickett (after Storm Watch) showcases the series’ strengths: high-octane action, intricate plotting, and well-drawn characters. Things kick off dramatically with Clay Hutmacher Jr. trout-fishing in a river and planning how he’ll propose to Pickett’s daughter, when he’s fatally attacked by a grizzly bear. The discovery of Clay’s remains prompts Pickett to activate Wyoming’s Predator Attack Team to hunt down the bear before it claims more victims. Meanwhile, white supremacist Dallas Cates, who headed the WOODS (Whites Only One Day Soon) gang, is released from prison with plans to assassinate six targets—including Pickett—in revenge for killing members of his family and putting him behind bars. When he learns that Pickett is preoccupied with finding the bear that killed Clay, Cates moves his old nemesis to the top of his hit list. Box maintains expert suspense throughout, shrewdly exploiting the story’s animal and human killers to set a series of diabolical traps for his hero. It’s another high point in a series full of them. Publishers Weekly, February 2024


The Hunter by Tana French

A divorced American detective tries to blend into rural Ireland in this sequel to The Searcher (2020). In fictional Ardnakelty, on Ireland’s west coast, lives retired American cop Cal Hooper, who busies himself repairing furniture with 15-year-old Theresa “Trey” Reddy and fervently wishes to be boring. Then into town pops Trey’s long-gone, good-for-nothing dad, Johnny, all smiles and charm. Much to her distaste, he says he wants to reclaim his fatherly role. In fact, he’s on the run from a criminal for a debt he can’t repay, and he has a cockamamie scheme to persuade local townsfolk that there might be gold in the nearby mountain with a vein that might run through some of their properties. (What, no leprechauns?) “It’s not sheep shite you’ll be smelling in a few months’ time, man,” he tells a farmer. “It’s champagne and caviar.” Some people have fun fantasizing about sudden riches, but they know better. Johnny’s pursuer, Cillian Rushborough, comes to town, and Johnny tries to convince him he could get rich by purchasing people’s land. Alas, someone bashes Rushborough’s brains in, and now there’s a murder mystery. The plot is a bit of a stretch, but the characters and their relationships work well. Trey detests Johnny for not being in her life, and now that he’s back, she neither wants nor needs him. She gets on much better with Cal. Still, she’s a testy teenager when she thinks someone is not treating her like an adult. Cal is aware of this, and he’s careful how he talks to her. Johnny, not so much: “I swear to fuck, women are only put on this earth to wreck our fuckin’ heads,” he whines about Trey’s mother, briefly forgetting he’s talking to Trey. The book abounds in local color and lively dialogue. An absorbing crime yarn. Kirkus Reviews, December 2023

The Traitor Among Us by Anne Perry

Elena Standish returns (after 2022’s A Truth to Lie For) for a delectable mystery that sees the photographer turned MI6 agent infiltrating a family of aristocrats in 1930s England. When MI6 agent John Repton is found shot to death near the Wyndham family estate, two questions emerge: who killed him, and why was he there in the first place? Elena, whose older sister, Margo, is being courted by Lady Wyndham’s brother, is tapped to investigate Repton’s death alongside fellow agent James Allenby. The pair discovers that Repton had been surveilling the Wyndhams to learn more about the family’s rumored fascist sympathies, and land an invitation to Wyndham Hall to see what they can dig up for themselves. As the revelations turn more and more sinister, and Hitler’s influence spreads across Europe, Elena faces a choice: does she risk her widowed sister’s happiness to take down the Wyndhams, or turn a blind eye to matters with international implications? Perry’s period details are exquisite, and she ably blends family conflicts with political intrigue, making the stakes of Elena’s inquiry feel both enormous and intimate. Historical mystery fans will eat this up. Publishers Weekly, June 2023


The Clinic by Cate Quinn

The thorny relationship between two estranged sisters powers this atmospheric thriller from Quinn (Blood Sisters). Meg catches cheaters for an L.A. casino and spends the money she makes on her drug and alcohol habit. Meanwhile, her older sister, Haley—with whom Meg has long been out of touch—has become a famous actress, whose own substance problems have made her a tabloid fixture. Meg has just nabbed her latest mark when she learns that Hayley has committed suicide at “The Clinic,” a luxury recovery center on the grounds of a former mansion on the Oregon coast. Refusing to believe her sister could kill herself, Meg checks herself into the Clinic in search of answers. As she learns of the patients’ heavily restricted movements and devotion to the menacing Dr. Lutz, she uncovers a sinister conspiracy that reframes her understanding of her late sister. Quinn smartly rotates between Meg’s viewpoint and that of Cara, a former L.A. hotel manager who was invited to manage the Clinic by an unknown recruiter ; though Cara is ancillary to the main plot, her insights into the Clinic’s operations provide tension and dramatic irony. Quinn’s fans will be rapt. Publishers Weekly, November 2023


Shot with Crimson by Nicola Upson

What’s the connection between Daphne du Maurier’s 1917 visit to the estate that inspired her to write Rebecca, a murder committed at that estate in 1939, and a miniatures designer working on Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood adaptation of Rebecca? That question animates Upson’s stellar 11th whodunit featuring real-life Scottish mystery author Josephine Tey (following 2022’s Dear Little Corpses). Josephine’s lover, Marta Fox, has travelled to California to help Hitchcock film Rebecca, and with German battleships about to curtail ocean travel, Josephine sails on the Queen Mary to join her, meeting Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, on board. Meanwhile, Josephine’s friend, Scotland Yard DCI Archie Penrose, has been dispatched to Milton Hall (du Maurier’s inspiration for Rebecca’s Manderley estate) to investigate a murder the British Army wants resolved discreetly so its use of the property as a training base can continue. Through Alma, Josephine learns information about a special effects professional on Rebecca that may be relevant to Archie’s case and also tied to a decades-old crime of passion that intersects with du Maurier’s childhood. Upson excels at misdirection, masterfully juggling subplots until they all click into place, and she imbues the novel’s violence with an uncommon depth of feeling. Golden age mystery fans will be in heaven. Publishers Weekly, August 2023

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Budd, DaleBondi to the Opera House
Duhigg, CharlesSupercommunicators
Foer, Jonathan SafranWe are the weather
Foster, Jason K.The devil’s butterfly
Greger, MichaelHow not to die
Mintz, Susannah B.The disabled detective
Usher, ShaunLetters of note

We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Soer

Extending an argument that began with Eating Animals (2009), novelist Foer (Here I Am, 2016, etc.) traces climate change squarely to human deeds and misdeeds. Our species, suggests the author, just isn’t very smart when it comes to thinking ahead and doing something about errant behavior. “We are good at things like calculating the path of a hurricane,” he writes, “and bad at things like deciding to get out of its way.” It behooves us to get better at the latter, since ever more intense hurricanes—and blizzards, droughts, and all the other portents of a drastically changing climate—are in the offing for the near-term future. There are things we can do to ameliorate the situation: For one thing, we “need to use cars far less,” but we also need to pat ourselves on the back a bit less when we do something virtuous of the sort, since there’s so much else to do. One critically important thing, writes Foer, is to eat lower on the food chain. A prominent driver of climate change is deforestation, and a prominent engine of deforestation is clearing ground for animal agriculture. As he notes, “sixty percent of all mammals on Earth are animals raised for food,” so lessening the number of animals slated to be eaten will decrease the rate and scale of deforestation. “It will be impossible to defuse the ticking time bomb without reducing our consumption of animal products,” reads a chapter title that scarcely needs supporting text. That’s a big, even revolutionary demand, but it’s not an impossible one by Foer’s estimation. After all, all of us humans got together and, at least for a time, cured polio because we took our vaccine, and even if we don’t want to hear it, the ticking is getting louder and louder. Foer is not likely to sway climate-change skeptics, but his lucid, patient, and refreshingly short treatise is as good a place to start as any. Kirkus Reviews, September 2019.

How Not to Die by Michael Greger

Physician Greger tackles 15 major diseases (including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) one by one, presenting a wealth of research to shore up his assertion that most of these ailments can be prevented by diet and lifestyle choices. Readers familiar with Greger’s website, NutritionFacts.org, won’t be surprised by his claim that nutrition is the key. Beginning with heart disease, the number-one killer in the U.S., Greger, an avid proponent of a whole-food, plant-based diet, runs through the statistics to demonstrate the importance of food choices. He points out, for instance, that in rural China and Africa, where heart disease rates are low, a plant-based diet is the norm, but in the U.S., where fatty meats and junk foods are staples even in childhood, atherosclerosis sets in early on. Along with discouraging observations about “the Standard American Diet,” Greger serves up practical dietary suggestions. He urges readers to take charge of their health and faults the medical profession for neglecting the significance of nutrition. This evidence-based guide unpacks information useful to carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, making a strong case for the healing power of food. Publishers Weekly, December 2015.


Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg

Pulitzer winner Duhigg (The Power of Habit) contends in this savvy guide that “we can learn to connect in more meaningful ways if we can understand how conversations work.” According to Duhigg, so-called supercommunicators more easily build trust, persuade others, and form friendships because they’ve honed such skills as “matching” (recognizing the kind of conversation they’re having, whether it’s about making a decisions, conveying emotions, or forming a bond) and “looping” (repeating what one’s interlocutor has said in one’s own words). Drawing on social experiments, neurological studies, and examples of how CIA agents recruit informants and doctors review treatment options with patients, Duhigg provides wise advice for bonding with friends, fighting with partners, and bridging divides over such lightning-rod issues as gun control. (In moments of conflict, readers should show they’re listening—rather than silently preparing a rebuttal—by asking questions, summarizing the other person’s views, and asking for confirmation; this helps people feel safe enough to receive someone else’s opinions and share their own.) In lucid prose, Duhigg breaks conversation down to its fundamentals, providing both an actionable guide and a revealing peek into the psychological needs and motivations that underpin human interaction. It’s a smart, revelatory look at the complex ways in which humans conflict and connect. Publishers Weekly, November 2023

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Balassone, DamianStrange game in a strange land
Darwish, MahmoudThe butterfly’s burden
Limon, AdaThe hurting kind
Lorde, AudreThe black unicorn

The Hurting Kind by Ada Lim

The tender, arresting sixth collection from Limón (The Carrying) is an ode to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that characterizes the natural world. The work is divided into four sections (after the four seasons), and is frequently set in the poet’s garden. In this Edenic location, Limón observes the flora and fauna, which can lead to personal revelations. In “Foaling Season,” the speaker describes a pasture full of mares and their foals, which allows her to reflect on her decision not to have children. Limón’s descriptions of animals are richly evocative; a groundhog is “a liquidity moving, all muscle and bristle… slippery and waddle-thieving my tomatoes.” The title poem movingly pays homage to the poet’s family and ancestors as she recalls how her grandparents told her “never/ to kill a California King, benevolent/ as they were, equanimous like earth or sky, not// toothy like the dog Chaco who barked/ at nearly every train whistle or roadrunner.” In the “Summer” section, Limón contemplates cockroaches and spiderwort, then briefly recalls a trip to Argentina before declaring, “And now the world is gone. No more Buenos Aires or Santiago.” Limón’s crystalline language is a feast for the senses, bringing monumental significance to the minuscule and revealing life in every blade of grass. Publishers Weekly, March 2022


Meadowlands by Louise Gluck

Gluck’s seventh collection (following The Wild Iris, 1993’s Pulitzer winner) interleaves vignettes of the Odyssey and a distressed modern marriage. Grimly serious parables, amusing but disquieting spousal conversations and insightful commentaries written in the voice of Telemachus, Odysseus’s son, season the 46 poems. Assessing his parents’ lives, Telemachus observes, “”heartbreaking, but also/ insane. Also/ very funny.”” In “”Anniversary,”” Gluck captures the particular cruelty made possible by intimacy: “”Someone should teach you how to act in bed./ …Look what you did–/ you made the cat move.”” In another, the depths of marital alienation are captured by a woman who weeps, holding a bag of garbage in an unlit garage at midnight: “”…is this the way the heart/ behaves when it grieves: it wants to be alone with the garbage?”” Despite humor, there is little joy. Gluck sees, in daily life as in Odysseus’s heroic one, the “”unanswerable/ affliction of the human heart: how to divide/ the world’s beauty into acceptable/ and unacceptable loves.”” These compressed and tightly focused poems are organized into a short collection of exceptional punch. Publishers Weekly, April 1996.



What is Otherwise Infinite by Bianca Stone

In this searching fourth collection, Stone (The Möbius Strip Club of Grief) is at once incisive, tender, and playful. Full of lyrical poems that sharpen as they progress, this work speaks to a universal malaise: “The uneasiness of being alive wears you down,” she writes. This sense pervades the collection and propels the speaker to search through and beyond that feeling toward new understanding. Stone evokes moments of depression (“I will start tomorrow/ the essential dismantling/ of how I live”), the balancing act of one’s headspace (“a typical day is fatalism and utopia”), and the dark humor that arises out of life (“I don’t want this phone; I want to kill God”). In doing so, she captures the despair and difficulty of attempting to filter through so much information, and so many feelings, at once. It is this complex probing that brings her to write, “You can waste your life/ trying to fix your life.” This honest, piercing collection addresses the wayward heart of modern society, pointing at the world—and even at the self—and asking for a revaluation. Publishers Weekly, December 2021.


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Garbera, KatherineThe bookbinder’s guide to love
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Pratchett, TerryA hat full of sky
Reid, AvaA study in drowning
Reynolds, AlastairEversion

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes. When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.  A dark and gripping feminist tale. Kirkus Reviews, September 2023.

Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Much of the fun in this vigorous space opera from Reynolds (Terminal World) comes from figuring out the tricks of the twisty plot. Narrator Silas Coade, an anxious young assistant surgeon, starts the novel on a little sloop sailing up the coast of Norway in the 1800s, searching for a fissure in the cliffs said to contain a mysterious “Edifice.” Along the way, Coade dies. But then the same narrator is on a steamship a century later looking for a fissure off the coast of South America. After another death, he’s on a dirigible entering the Hollow Earth through a crater in Antarctica. As Coade struggles with overlapping memories of past expeditions, he slowly realizes that the stories he’s telling obscure the real crisis: an alien space probe has crashed into a subterranean ocean and has captured the human members of a team trying to explore that ocean. The team will all die unless Coade can face a startling truth about himself. Reynolds packs plenty of emotion into this mind-bending plot as Coade struggles to do the right/human thing. The result is an excellent adventure that’s sure to keep readers on their toes. Publishers Weekly, June 2022.


A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Tiffany Aching and her loyal friends, the crazed six-inch Nac Mac Feegle, return in an outing rather less uproarious but more weighty, and thereby possibly more satisfying, than The Wee Free Men (2003). Tiffany, now 11, has left the Chalk to apprentice to a career witch. On the brink of adolescence, she has become more conscious of image, and it is this weakness that leaves her open to attack by a hiver, a parasite that seeks out the powerful, taking over their minds—and killing them in the process. It’s the Feegles to the rescue, a highly dubious enterprise. Pratchett weaves a tale that isn’t afraid to detour into biting satire or to stop and admire a mot particularly juste, but that keeps returning to the critical question of identity—how an individual must embrace her worst aspects to become her best self, how worth is found in works, not in posturing. The great chalk horse cut into the downlands becomes the metaphor for Tiffany’s understanding of this: “Taint what a horse looks like. It’s what a horse be.” By turns hilarious and achingly beautiful, this be just right. Kirkus Review, May 2010


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Connolly, SeanDenmark
Falkenberg, PetraBerlin
Lonely PlanetJapan
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New additions to eBooks at SMSA

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GeneralBinyam, MayaHangman
GeneralBirch, TonyWomen & children
GeneralEverett, PercivalJames
GeneralLee, BriThe work
GeneralNolan, MeganOrdinary human failings
GeneralTowles, AmorA gentleman in Moscow
HistoricalFoster, KateThe maiden
MysteryBaldacci, DavidA calamity of souls
MysteryClifford, AoifeIt takes a town
MysteryDisher, GarrySanctuary

The Work by Bri Lee

Irish author Nolan (Acts of Desperation) delivers an insightful if lugubrious tale of a family under suspicion for a neighbor girl’s murder. Carmel Green, a young unwed Irish mother in 1990 England, once believed she was “destined for special things.” Now, feeling painfully ordinary, she mourns her faded promise. Carmel and her 10-year-old daughter, Lucy, live with Carmel’s father and brother, both of whom are alcoholics. Her mother, an affable woman who held the family together, died two years ago. Nolan alternates perspectives between the four Greens and Tom, an ambitious newspaper reporter who becomes interested in the family when their three-year-old neighbor is strangled to death, and suspicion falls on Lucy. After the police take Lucy into custody, Tom sequesters Carmel and the men in a small hotel, where he plies them with alcohol in hopes of getting enough material to write a “major, state-of-the-nation piece” on the family of a child murderess. The Greens’ revelations are by turn ironic and sad. Though the gloomy subject matter makes for rough going, Nolan is a gifted writer, capable of stunningly precise observations. This unflinching tale provokes. Publishers Weekly, October 2023


James by Percival Everett

As in his classic novel Erasure, Everett portrays in this ingenious retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a Black man who’s mastered the art of minstrelsy to get what he needs from gullible white people. Many of the same things happen as they do in Twain’s original: Jim escapes from enslavement on a Missouri farm and joins up with Huck, a white boy who’s faked his own death. Huck is fleeing from his abusive father, while Jim is hoping to find a way to free his wife and daughter. The main difference is in the telling. Jim narrates, not Huck, and in so doing he reveals how he employs “slave” talk (“correct incorrect grammar”) when white people can hear, to make them feel safe and superior. Everett also pares down the prose and adds humor in place of sentimentality. When Huck and Jim come upon a band of slave hunters, Huck claims Jim, who’s covered by a tarp, is a white man infected with smallpox (“We keep thinkin’ he gone die, then he just don’t”). Clever additions to the narrative include a tense episode in which Jim is fraudulently sold by a slaver to “Dixie” composer Daniel Decatur Emmett, who has Jim perform in blackface with his singing troupe. Jim’s wrenching odyssey concludes with remarkable revelations, violent showdowns, and insightful meditations on literature and philosophy. Everett has outdone himself. Publishers Weekly, December 2023


Hangman by Maya Binyam

Binyam’s beguiling and dreamlike debut chronicles an immigrant man’s return to his home country after 26 years. The unnamed narrator, a 50-something Black man, doesn’t know why he’s traveling, and the reader only knows someone has called him on the phone to say arrangements have been made for his trip. During the flight, an attendant inexplicably informs the narrator that the passenger next to him is dead. After he lands, a taxi takes him along roads that seem “random and resistant ” and he arrives at a bus depot with a vague sense that he’s meant to visit his dying brother. The route is circuitous, and it leads to an ending that’s twisty and illuminating. Along the way, the narrator has a series of random and mordantly funny encounters that highlight themes of colonialism and cultural differences (a foreign white woman who has adopted a Black farmer’s son claims she’s committed to “the work of mutual understanding,” and a local former clergyman says of a pile of donated clothing from abroad: “Although these people were ashamed of their old possessions, they were nevertheless attached to the idea of their possessions being used to their full extent”). This is one of those novels that demands a second reading, and is well worth the time. Publishers Weekly, June 2023


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

House arrest has never been so charming as in Towles’s second novel (following Rules of Civility), an engaging 30-year saga set almost entirely inside the Metropol, Moscow’s most luxurious hotel. To Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the Metropol becomes both home and jail in 1922, when the Bolsheviks spare his life (on the strength of a revolutionary poem written in 1913, when the count was at university). Forbidden to venture out, Rostov explores the intricacies of the grand structure and befriends its other denizens: precocious nine-year-old Nina Kulikova, a bureaucrat’s daughter who demands instruction on how to be a princess; Emile, virtuosic chef of the Boyarsky, “the finest restaurant in Moscow”; Andrey, the Boyarsky’s French expatriate maître d’; and the beautiful actress Anna Urbanova, who becomes the count’s regular visitor and paramour. Standing in for the increasingly despotic Soviet government is the Bishop, a villainous waiter who experiences gradual professional ascent—he becomes headwaiter of the Boyarsky, finally putting his seating-chart and wine-pairing talents to use. But when the adult Nina returns to ask Rostov for a favor, his unique, precariously well-appointed life must change once more. Episodic, empathetic, and entertaining, Count Rostov’s long transformation occurs against a lightly sketched background of upheaval, repression, and war. Gently but dauntlessly, like his protagonist, Towles is determined to chart the course of the individual. Publishers Weekly, July 2016

A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci

Bestseller Baldacci’s stirring latest (after Simply Lies) finds Black Vietnam veteran Jerome Washington on trial in 1968 Virginia for murdering Leslie and Anne Randolph, his married white employers and two of the most prominent citizens in fiercely segregated Freeman County. After washing the Randolphs’ Buick, Jerome entered their house to get his weekly pay, only to find their bloody corpses on the floor. He tried to “help them out,” he says, by moving them off the ground, but just as he was propping Anne up into a chair, the police arrived and placed him under arrest. Certain of his innocence, Jerome’s grandmother-in-law reaches out to Jack Lee, a local white criminal defense lawyer, who agrees to take the racially charged case despite his lack of experience with murder trials. Feeling immediately out of his depth, Jack teams up with Desiree DuBose, a Black attorney at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund; together, they work to save Jerome from the electric chair. Baldacci generates satisfying tension from Jack and Desiree’s clashing personalities, and his real-life experiences both as an attorney and as a child in 1960s Virginia lend the proceedings an air of uncommon authenticity. This ranks among the author’s best. Publishers Weekly, February 2024

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GeneralChiaverini, JenniferCanary girls
GeneralHweitt, KateThe last stars in the sky
MysteryGreene, MorganIce queen
MysteryMarshall, Kate AliceWhat lies in the woods
MysteryMisha PoppA good day to pie
MysteryOlivia BlackeRhythm and clues
MysterySullivan, TimThe teacher
MysteryThompson, VictoriaMurder on pleasant avenue
MysteryTodd, MarionBridges to burn
Sci-FiTchaikovsky, AdrianCity of last chances

Canary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini

A group of female munitions workers become friends and soccer teammates in Great Britain during World War I. In 1915, April Tipton, a 19-year-old housemaid, follows her best friend, Marjorie, to London to work in one of the “Danger Buildings” at a munitions factory–a job that pays nearly 30 times as much as her old position, offering the ability for the women to support not only themselves, but their families. While it’s known to be dangerous work because of the chance that the bombs will explode, the poisonousness of the TNT the women work with won’t be fully realized until late in the war even though from the beginning it turned the workers’ skin yellow and discolored their hair–thus earning them the nickname canary girls. Helen Purcell, daughter of an Oxford professor, has married into the family that owns the factory. Determined to do her part for the war effort, she begins working at the factory as a welfare supervisor for the workers who are increasingly obviously being poisoned, advocating for the women to her husband, Arthur, who runs the arsenal. Lucy Dempsey–who’s married to Daniel, an Olympic gold medalist-turned-professional soccer player now enlisted as a soldier–begins working at the factory to support the war effort and to earn enough money so she doesn’t lose her family’s home. Each of the women finds her way to the Thornshire Canaries, the soccer team for the arsenal, and as the war progresses, the fan base for the soccer league of “munitionettes” grows ever larger. Chiaverini has written a sprawling, ambitious story: It’s part a play-by-play recounting of the Canaries’ soccer games against munitionette teams from across Britain, part a history lesson about the life-altering work undertaken by women determined to be “The Girl Behind the Man Behind the Gun” regardless of the risk to their own lives, and part a story of the emotional highs and lows of the women carrying on as best they could during the war years. The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of war on the homefront are highlighted in this uplifting story. Kirkus Reviews, July 2023

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

YA author Marshall (These Fleeting Shadows) makes her adult debut with a powerful psychological thriller. Twenty-two years after Seattle photographer Naomi Shaw survived a stabbing attack when she was 11 while playing in the forest in Chester, Wash., with her two best friends, Naomi expects to feel some closure when the suspected serial killer the girls’ testimony put behind bars dies in prison. But the opposite occurs when the news unnerves the most fragile of the trio, artistic, unstable Liv Barnes, threatening to unearth long buried—and potentially explosive—secrets. Sucked back to Chester, Naomi tries to support Liv, reconnect with their third friend, golden girl Cass Green, and finally press for the truth she’s never been able to remember, despite her statements on the stand, about what really happened that fateful day. Then a suspicious death near the site of the stabbing ups the ante, and the intricate plot starts careening down precipitous, blind curves. Marshall overloads the twists that lead to the devastating denouement, but readers will root for the determined Naomi every step of the way. This emotionally involving tale of friendship, betrayal, and redemption leaves an indelible impression. Publishers Weekly, October 2022


A Good Day to Pie by Misha Popp

Baker Daisy Ellery, the narrator of Popp’s welcome sequel to 2022’s Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies, can work magic into her pies—honesty, helpfulness, success, even revenge. Her specialty is doling out karma. She runs a side gig selling “murder” pies on the dark web to abused women, though her magic can’t kill anyone who doesn’t have it coming. When Daisy is invited to participate in a TV baking contest, she’s determined to win it on her baking talent alone—no magic allowed. To her surprise, she discovers one of the contest judges is her latest murder pie target. Things take a deadly turn when someone beats Daisy to it and kills the judge before the contest is over. The show must go on, however, and Daisy has to find the killer before the police learn she was hired to deliver justice to the awful judge. The fun premise and the in-depth descriptions of food more than make up for a large cast that can be hard to keep track of and a less than clear explanation of the pie magic. Several delicious (non-magic) recipes round out a volume sure to please culinary cozy fans. Publishers Weekly, December 2022


Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson

In Edgar finalist Thompson’s cleverly plotted 23rd whodunit set in early 20th-century New York City (after 2019’s Murder on Trinity Place), PI Frank Malloy and his partner, Gino Donatelli, are approached by Donatelli’s sister-in-law, Teo, who’s distraught over the kidnapping of Jane Harding. Miss Harding, who worked at the Daughters of Hope Mission, an East Harlem settlement house with which Malloy’s wife was once involved, disappeared after being stopped by an unidentified man on the street. Teo fears that the Black Hand, a notorious criminal organization, has abducted Miss Harding for ransom. The gang recently kidnapped the wife of the employer of Teo’s husband, only releasing her after a month in captivity when the extortionate payment was raised. The efforts to rescue Miss Harding lead to a murder under circumstances that implicate Donatelli, forcing his friends to solve the crime to absolve him. Thompson makes effective use of real-life figures, such as Joseph Petrosino, one of the NYPD’s first Italian officers. Fans of husband-and-wife sleuthing partners such as Thomas and Charlotte Pitt will be pleased. Publishers Weekly, February 2020



City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The theft of a rare magical amulet becomes the catalyst for revolution in the shady city of Ilmar in this well wrought fantasy from Arthur C. Clarke award winner Tchaikovsky (Children of Memory). A high-ranking official of the Palleseen occupation, which seeks to bring “perfection” to the world, dies during the amulet’s theft, and the occupiers will not rest until order is restored. Tchaikovsky seamlessly alternates between a large cast as an academic, a refugee sorcerer, a petty criminal, and a noble scion become entangled in a frantic search for the amulet. The captivating magic systems of this world’s many cultures come to the fore as the Palleseen crack down on Ilmar: workers in factories powered by demons, the mysterious residents of the last grove of a magical forest, and a district abandoned to the emaciated victims of a virulent curse all chafe against the oppressive regime. The different resistance factions soon face a choice: rise as one to overthrow the Palleseen or stay separate and be crushed forever. The rich, inventive worldbuilding and nuanced intrigues will have fantasy readers on the edges of their seats. Publishers Weekly, February 2023

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