This Week's Best New Books

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Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

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Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

by Cassandra Peterson

Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

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Cassandra Peterson has been playing the spectacularly funny and statuesque vamp Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, for four decades, and now the comedic bombshell has written a real bombshell of a memoir. Although Peterson's sardonic sense of humor and love of punny wordplay shines through, Yours Cruelly is not fluff. This memoir is explosive, surprising and written with wrenching candor as Peterson explores the physical and emotional abuse in her childhood and her family's three generations of addiction. ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
The Wrong End of the Telescope

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The Wrong End of the Telescope

by Rabih Alameddine

The Wrong End of the Telescope

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In The Wrong End of the Telescope, Rabih Alameddine, the celebrated Lebanese American author of The Angel of History and An Unnecessary Woman, trains a curious lens on the Syrian refugee crisis through the volunteerism of Dr. Mina Simpson, a trans woman from the States, "American of Lebanese and Syrian origin." She arrives on the island of Lesbos, "as close as [she'd] been to Lebanon in decades," at the behest of her friend Emma, whose NGO needs someone with Mina's skills. Moved by a compassion deeper ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

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True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

by Brad Ricca

True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant

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A true but forgotten tale of archeological adventure and intrigue (and the hinted inspiration for the cinematic hit Raiders of the Lost Ark) is resurrected with novelistic flair in True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant by Edgar Award-nominated author Brad Ricca (Olive the Lionheart).

In 1909, British nobleman and adventurer Monty Parker assembled an eccentric group of adventurers to search for the coveted Ark of the Covenant in the caverns ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 26
The Stolen Hours

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The Stolen Hours

by Allen Eskens

The Stolen Hours

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At age 18, Lila was drugged and raped by an unknown assailant. Now 26, she's a young prosecutor suddenly sitting across the aisle from the man who may have committed the crime in a deadly cat-and-mouse thriller, The Stolen Hours by Allen Eskens (Nothing More Dangerous).

Someone spikes Lila Nash's drink with gamma-hydroxybutyrate, aka GHB, a date-rape drug. The teenager wakes up naked and alone in the backseat of a car. Lila knows she was raped, but has no memory of who did it. Nude pictures of her ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
Nice Girls

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Nice Girls

by Catherine Dang

Nice Girls

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Missing girls, overlooked girls, smart girls, ambitious girls emerge in Catherine Dang's scintillating debut novel, Nice Girls. But none could be called nice girls--certainly not Dang's anti-heroine Mary, a sullen bundle of anger, unbridled temper, insecurities, failure, depression and self-loathing, determined to reinvent herself at college from an overweight, disliked teen. She almost made it, until an act of violence got her expelled from Cornell at the beginning of her senior year.

In high school, ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 26
A Most Clever Girl

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A Most Clever Girl

by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A Most Clever Girl

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Real-life double agent Elizabeth Bentley had a long career spying for the Soviet Union and then informing for the FBI. In her compelling eighth novel, A Most Clever Girl, Stephanie Marie Thornton (The Conqueror's Wife) unravels the threads of Bentley's story, examining her reasons for joining the Communist Party and the complex life--love, grief and purpose--she had as a spy.

Thornton begins her story with Catherine Gray, a young woman who shows up on Elizabeth's doorstep holding a gun and seeking ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
What Isabella Wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum

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What Isabella Wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum

by Candace Fleming, illus. by Matthew Cordell

What Isabella Wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum

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In What Isabella Wanted, Sibert Medalist Candace Fleming (Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera) boldly succeeds in creating another winning nonfiction picture book, and Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell (Wolf in the Snow) handsomely illustrates this paean to one woman's idiosyncratic passions.

"Brash, extravagant Isabella" was an affront to staid Bostonians. She "strolled zoo lions up Beacon Street, and outraged all society." This was "exactly as Isabella wanted." Fleming's lively text portrays ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
Never Saw You Coming

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Never Saw You Coming

by Erin Hahn

Never Saw You Coming

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A "former pastor's kid who knew too much" and a "youth group girl who knew nothing at all" explore faith and first love in Never Saw You Coming, a bold and compassionate contemporary YA novel.

At the age of 18, Meg Hennessey's mother reveals to her a shocking truth that causes Meg to question her conservative Christian upbringing. Meg abandons her original plans for a gap year and travels instead to northern Michigan to meet the extended family she never knew she had. Nineteen-year-old Micah Allen ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
Inter State: Essays from California

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Inter State: Essays from California

by José Vadi

Inter State: Essays from California

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In his debut collection, Inter State: Essays from California, poet and playwright José Vadi delves into the metaphysical terrain of his home state, "a place many fantasize about but few experience." Vadi is Afro-Puerto Rican, a third-generation Californian who grew up in Pomona and graduated from UC Berkeley, the son of a college professor and grandson of a bracero. His rambling, frenetic odysseys along California's byways reveal the scope of his profound connection to a state he feels sure ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
Harrow the Ninth

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Harrow the Ninth

by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth

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Harrow the Ninth has a tough act to follow in the deranged, electrifyingly fun Gideon the Ninth--a Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2020--but the middle chapter in Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb Trilogy is every bit as wild and weird as its delightful predecessor. Following the events of the first book, Muir shifts focus to the necromancer Harrowhark as she joins a cohort dedicated to assisting the godlike Emperor in fighting strange cosmic entities.

Muir has not lost her penchant for throwing readers in ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
Dog Park

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Dog Park

by Sofi Oksanen, trans. by Owen Frederick Witesman

Dog Park

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Dog Park begins with two women originally from Ukraine sharing a bench at a park in Helsinki. As picturesque images go, it's just about the only one on offer in Finnish-Estonian novelist Sofi Oksanen's superb but pitiless thriller.

Narrator Olenka has recently begun working as a cleaning woman--part of a self-reinvention ("I had a Finnish passport and a new life in a city that smelled of the sea") that was undertaken for reasons initially unclear to readers. The shock of seeing Daria beside her on ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
The Best of Me

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The Best of Me

by David Sedaris

The Best of Me

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For long-time David Sedaris fans, The Best of Me, a collection of the humorist's 46 favorite pieces, will feel like coming home. Drawn from his 10 books and nearly 30 years of contributions to magazines, including the New Yorker, Sedaris's writing inspires a "Have you read the one about...?" loyalty; anyone new to his satiric humor can anticipate hours of laughter (and some tears) in one volume.

David's five siblings accepted his ever-present notebook, knowing "their personal lives are the so-called ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
Snowflake

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Snowflake

by Louise Nealon

Snowflake

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Louise Nealon's Snowflake is a novel that keeps readers guessing, a madcap family drama and coming-of-age saga for Debbie, who has grown up on a dairy farm outside Dublin in an eccentric household. "My uncle Billy lives in a caravan in a field at the back of my house," it begins. Billy is a bit of a drunk with an unusual interest in constellations and Greek mythology; he keeps the farm running and is devoted to his niece. His sister, Maeve, Debbie's mother, is less stable. She considers ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
Rizzio

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Rizzio

by Denise Mina

Rizzio

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Denise Mina's historical thriller Rizzio gives action-packed pacing to the gasp-inducing, true-story murder of the personal secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots.

In 16th-century Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, appoints David Rizzio as her personal secretary. Rizzio's appointment isn't arbitrary--he is a learned man who can translate to and from four languages, intelligently advise on drafting legislations and proclamations, as well as communicate with courts of Europe. Although Rizzio prefers men, the ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes

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Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes

by Alexa Martin

Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes

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Strong female friendships are one of the highlights of Alexa Martin's The Playbook (Intercepted; Blitzed; Snapped) series of romances, and she continues her gift for writing messy, believable friendships in her women's fiction debut, Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes. This novel tells the story of Lauren, a single Black mother, and her best friend Jude, an Instagram fitness influencer, who decide to try to be sister-wives of a sort, and buy a house together.

Lauren is worried about losing custody of her ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 26
The Love Hypothesis

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The Love Hypothesis

by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis

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Ali Hazelwood's first romance novel, The Love Hypothesis, is a delightful romp through the corridors of scientific academia. She ably captures the world of panicky students, demanding professors and the amusing neuroses of a lovable Ph.D. student who's gotten herself in a pickle again.

As a third-year doctoral student, Olive Smith should be smarter than this, but in a desperate attempt to convince her best friend Anh that she's happily dating someone, Olive randomly kisses the nearest man in the ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 26
We Are Not Broken

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We Are Not Broken

by George M. Johnson

We Are Not Broken

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Black, nonbinary author and New York City activist George M. Johnson's absorbing second memoir, We Are Not Broken, touchingly tells of growing up with a brother and two cousins, and honors the memory of the grandmother who raised them.

Johnson (All Boys Aren't Blue) shares complex, emotional family stories of childhood as a Black boy in Plainfield, N.J. Nanny, the family matriarch, is described as a caring, no-nonsense, hustling, five-time cancer survivor who did whatever she could to provide for ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
Paradise on Fire

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Paradise on Fire

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Paradise on Fire

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In this gripping, moving and life-affirming middle-grade adventure, survival requires not only smarts but also compassion for others, the planet and oneself.

Jewell Parker Rhodes, award-winning author of Ghost Boys, introduces Addy, a Nigerian American teen girl participating in a summer program for Black city kids to develop wilderness skills. "Escape. Survive."--that's Addy's mantra. Her parents died in a fire when she was four, but she lived. Now, on her flight to Paradise Ranch in California, ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites

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Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites

by Tullio Corda

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites

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A cat and dog illustrate the concept of opposites--and friendship--in this charming picture book by Italian author/illustrator Tullio Corda, who lives in France, his first title to be published in English.

"Brave/ Afraid," "Slow/ Fast," "Nimble/ Heavy": a pair of furry friends go through their day on opposite sides of the personality and behavior spectrum. A blue, sausage-shaped dog seems continually baffled by the sly orange cat that zips around, lunging for birds and falling out of trees. But do ... [ Read More » ]

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Ice Rivers: A Story of Glaciers, Wilderness, and Humanity

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Ice Rivers: A Story of Glaciers, Wilderness, and Humanity

by Jemma Wadham

Ice Rivers: A Story of Glaciers, Wilderness, and Humanity

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"One thing I've learnt is that as human beings, we are inseparable from our glaciers. Every individual will be affected by glacier shrinkage or loss in coming years... what we are witnessing now is unprecedented in Earth's history, not just human history, and it has largely happened during the last century. Whatever your view of the role of fossil fuels in maintaining economic prosperity, the greatest loser in this game will be humankind." Jemma Wadham, professor of glaciology at the University of ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
The House of Ashes

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The House of Ashes

by Stuart Neville

The House of Ashes

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Stuart Neville's chilling The House of Ashes mixes a gripping mystery with a soupçon of the supernatural. The 120-year-old house outside Belfast is called The Ashes ostensibly because the remote farm is behind a cluster of ash trees. But the name's darker meaning emerges as the house's history of violent occurrences unfolds, involving two women whose lives, separated by more than 60 years, were ruled by men and who were thrust into circumstances over which they had little control.

Former social ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
Forever Young

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Forever Young

by Hayley Mills

Forever Young

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There are countless coming-of-age memoirs out there, but how many unfold at the House of Mouse? The English actress Hayley Mills's fulsome Forever Young is certainly weighted toward the six films that she made for Disney, but it's also a disarmingly forthright look at a jobbing actor's life.

Acting was a logical career path for Mills: her father, John, was a celebrated thespian; her mother, Mary Hayley Bell, a playwright and novelist whose stories occasionally made it to the screen. In 1959, young ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
Civilizations

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Civilizations

by Laurent Binet, trans. by Sam Taylor

Civilizations

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In Civilizations, the third novel from French novelist Laurent Binet (HHhH; The Seventh Function of Language), the author's delightful iconoclasm and trademark textual mischief make for a rollicking alternative history of the Age of Exploration.

The novel unfolds as a series of mock-historical documents, each building on the last to produce an uncannily inverted image of the early modern world. In the first, a band of Viking explorers travel from Greenland to Panama, seeding native cultures with ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
The Charm Offensive

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The Charm Offensive

by Alison Cochrun

The Charm Offensive

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Alison Cochrun's debut novel, The Charm Offensive, is the kind of sweepingly romantic book that will make even the most seasoned romance reader melt. Charlie is trying to prove to the world that he's employable after being ousted from the tech company he cofounded because of his severe anxiety and OCD. He agrees to appear on The Bachelor-like TV show Ever After, where Dev is a producer.

As far as princes go, Charlie is a disaster. Upon meeting the first of the potential princesses, he stress-vomits ... [ Read More » ]

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Assembly

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Assembly

by Natasha Brown

Assembly

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The enigmatic, unnamed narrator in Natasha Brown's poignant debut, Assembly, set in the heart of London's financial district, is a wistful Britisher of Jamaican heritage confronting a fork in the road of her outwardly prosperous life.

Recently promoted at her company, where she stands out both for her gender and ancestry, the young woman can choose to continue her exhausting, lonely ascent up the ladder of corporate achievement, alongside misogynistic coworkers who dismiss her success as a nod to ... [ Read More » ]

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Bewilderment

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Bewilderment

by Richard Powers

Bewilderment

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Bewilderment by Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Powers (The Echo Maker; Orfeo; The Overstory) is a novel of great pain and empathy. Focusing on a nuclear family but also concerned with ecological collapse and the possibilities of distant space, this is a heart-wrenching story with an important message to convey.

Theo Byrne is an astrobiologist: he writes programs to explore, hypothetically, distant planets that may host life. His work is at the nexus of science, coding and imagination. But readers
... [ Read More » ]

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