Your Library Curated: Best New Books

  • A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne:  Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent–but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own. Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity:  a chance encounter with celebrate novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful–but desperately lonely–older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel. Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall… Sweeping across the late twentieth century, A Ladder to the Sky is a fascinating portrait of a relentlessly immoral man, a tour de force of storytelling, and the next great novel from an acclaimed literary virtuoso. ladder to the sky
  • Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz:  Occasionally an author’s estate or a publisher gets the idea to craft a prequel to a popular series, and Anthony Horowitz performs this duty for ace British spy James Bond in Forever and a Day. As the book opens, M (the big boss of MI6) is discussing the death of agent 007, which initially seems odd, as this is at the inception of Bond’s illustrious career. But it turns out that the 007 under discussion is the previous holder of that particular license-to-kill number, and Bond is quickly promoted to take on his predecessor’s responsibilities. His mission takes him to the south of France, where he engages the first of the legendary villains that will characterize the adventures of Bond’s later life. The book uses some source material from original Bond author Ian Fleming, and of all the Bond books that have come out since Fleming’s death, this one may hew closest to the originals. forever and a day
  • The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim:  In 1948 Najin and Calvin Cho, with their young daughter Miran, travel from South Korea to the United States in search of new opportunities. Wary of the challenges they know will face them, Najin and Calvin make the difficult decision to leave their infant daughter, Inja, behind with their extended family; soon, they hope, they will return to her. But then war breaks out in Korea, and there is no end in sight to the separation. Miran grows up in prosperous American suburbia, under the shadow of the daughter left behind, as Inja grapples in her war-torn land with ties to a family she doesn’t remember, Najin and Calvin desperately seek a reunion with Inja, but are the bonds of love strong enough to reconnect their family over distance, time, and war? And as deep family secrets are revealed, will everything they long for be upended? Told through the alternating perspectives of the distanced sisters, and inspired by a true story, The Kinship of Secrets explores the cruelty of war, the power of hope, and what it means to be a sister. kinship of secrets
  • Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty:  Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer–or should she run while she still can? It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question. Combining all the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft. nine perfect strangers
  • Family Trust by Kathy Wang:  Meet Stanley Huang:  father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Meet Stanley’s family:  son Fred, who feels that he should be making a lot more money; daughter Kate, managing a capricious boss, a distracted husband, and two small children; ex-wife Linda, familiar with and suspicious of Stanley’s grandiose ways; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages. For years, Stanley has insistently claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. Now, as the Huangs come to terms with Stanley’s approaching death, they are also starting to fear that Stanley’s “small fortune” may be more “small” than “fortune.” A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life.   family trust
  • Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink:  “This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip.” Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country. Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job as a long-haul truck driver and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system–uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.  alice isn't dead
  • Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Tóibín:  Colm Tóibín begins his incisive, revelatory Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know with a walk through the Dublin streets where he went to university–a wide-eyed boy from the country–and where three Irish literary giants also came of age. Oscar Wilde, writing about his relationship with his father, William Wilde, stated:  “Whenever there is hatred between two people there is bond or brotherhood of some kind…you loathed each other not because you were so different but because you were so alike.” W.B. Yeats wrote of his father, John Butler Yeats, a painter:  “It is this infirmity of will which has prevented him from finishing his pictures. The qualities I think necessary to success in art or life seemed to him egotism.” John Stanislaus Joyce, James’s father, was perhaps the most quintessentially Irish, widely loved, garrulous, a singer, and drinker with a volatile temper, who drove his son from Ireland. Elegant, profound, and riveting, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers, but also illustrates the surprising ways these men surface in their work. Through these stories of fathers and sons, Tóibín recounts the resistance to English cultural domination, the birth of modern Irish cultural identity, and the extraordinary contributions of these complex and masterful authors.    mad bad dangerous to know
  • Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly:  Teaming up with Harry Bosch to reopen a cold case, LAPD detective Renee Ballard navigates interpersonal differences to pursue justice for a murdered runaway in Hollywood. Renee Ballard returns to Hollywood Station from working the night beat. She finds a stranger rifling through old file cabinets–retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard kicks him out, but then checks into the case herself. Bosch is investigating the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now, Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy and finally bring her killer to justice.  dark sacred night
  • Nine Pints by Rose George:  The sight of blood makes some people faint; for others, it’s just creepy. Yet it is essential–each adult human contains approximately nine pints of it. In this new book, Rose George discusses this life-giving substance in intricate detail. George describes the busy, unrelenting job of this essential human body part that is “a tissue and an organ at once, and probably our most important organ.” She travels around the world, interviewing people whose lives have been impacted by blood in one way or another. She reports on a clinic in South Africa where residents can get tested and treated for HIV, a village in western Nepal where menstruating girls are shunned and must sleep in outdoor shacks, and a London trauma center that regularly treats code red (open chest) and code black (people with severe brain injury) patients. George tackles a squeamish subject in a manner that is eloquent and witty, making Nine Pints a factual, scientific book that reads like a novel with a colorful cast of characters ranging from medicinal leeches to groundbreaking scientists and innovative inventors. nine pints
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth:  What happens when you return to the real world after being in a fantastical one like Narnia? Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust. Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under. Walking the line between where fantasy and reality meet, this lyrical and magical novel is, above all else, an exploration of loss and healing, and what it means to find where you belong.  light between worlds
  • The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde:  There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love. She saw him in her dreams… It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have. She was his buddy’s sister…Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son…and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?  christmas key
  • Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LeFleur:  Rising seventh-grader Cassie is looking forward to a summer of competitive swimming and hanging by the pool with her best friends–away from her 17-year-old sister, Julia, who’s a new mom to 6-month-old Addie. Ever since Addie arrived, Cassie’s life has been put on the back burner, and she longs for the closeness she and Julia shared before Addie was born. So when Julia confides in Cassie that she and Addie are leaving without telling their parents, Cassie takes the chance to potentially rekindle their relationship and joins them on a road trip with no planned destination. This is a gorgeous novel that illustrates the enduring bond of sisterhood. counting to perfect
  • Little by Edward Carey:  In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling:  The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and…at the wax museum, heads are what they do. This is a darkly endearing cavalcade of a novel–a story of art, class, determination, and how we hold on to what we love.  little
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes:  From the very beginning, the energy of this book is infectious as readers turn the page to see a parade of pastel-colored elephants. There are five, to be exact, but on this first full spread, they are laid out in five rows in which we see them incrementally (one in one row, two in the next, and so on). For the most part, the elephants march from left to right on an uncluttered, squiggly-lined landscape, trimmed with heavy-lined borders that often form a stripe on top of the purple pages. But, delightfully, Henkes mixes up the compositions. Sometimes, for instance, there is a stripe of purple at the top with the elephants jubilantly marching below, and sometimes all the borders fall away while the elephants determinedly march on. As we follow their march, Henkes sprinkles the text with prepositions for those children still learning the ways of grammar. Up, down, over, under, in and out march the single-minded elephants. In a moment of creative wordplay, we read that they are “big and round and round they go.” The short phrases and short sentences are laid out in a large, bold font. Closing with a happy surprise as it does—when they tire, the elephants scatter stars in the sky via their long, upturned trunks—young readers won’t want to see this story end.parade of elephants
  • Imagine! by Raúl Colón:  While skateboarding through New York City, a boy pauses at the Museum of Modern Art and decides to head inside. Suddenly, his imagination kicks into gear: Figures from three legendary paintings step through their canvases to join him—the cubist figures from Picasso’s “Three Musicians,” the woman and lion from Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy,” and the abstract expressionistic body from Matisse’s “Icarus.” As a group, they leave the museum and roam the streets of the city, making memories at iconic stops like the Statue of Liberty’s crown. After the boy returns to the museum to say goodbye to his new friends, he stops to paint his own memories of the day on a building wall. This book is a reverent, playful tribute to the power of imagination and art.  imagine
  • Shell Game by Sara Paretsky:  V.I. Warshawski, like all of us, is not getting any younger. She is well past the age of dangling upside down in search of clues or doing fishtail burnouts in her V-8 Mustang to avoid getting shot, and certainly past the years when she should be treading across thin ice floes to keep a priceless artifact out of the hands of a ruthless billionaire. In this latest thriller by Paretsky, age seems a nonissue, as V.I.’s latest crusade leads her to engage in all these dangerous activities and more. Two cases weave in and out of the narrative: the first, a murder charge hanging over the beloved nephew of V.I.’s godmother, surgeon Lotty Herschel, involving a Syrian archaeological dig and a dissident immigrant poet on the lam from ICE; the second, the mysterious disappearance of V.I.’s niece following a Caribbean junket that turned sinister in ways that no travel brochure would suggest. Readers will revel in the superb pacing, the well-developed characters and the crisp dialogue from one of the most consistently excellent writers in the genre.    shell game
  • Milk Street by Christopher Kimball:  This is a wonderful collection of quick recipes for weeknight dining, inspired by the Milk Street television show. This cookbook includes such dishes as yakiudon with pickled ginger, pork schnitzel, kale and white bean soup, Indonesian fried tofu salad, and three-cheese pizza. Weeknights call for techniques that deliver dinners in less time. Every recipe in the book delivers big, bold flavors, but the cooking is quick and easy–simple enough for the middle of the week. The team at Milk Street shows you how to make simple, healthy, delicious meals using pantry staples and just a few other ingredients. And each two page spread features the recipe complete on one page, opposite a full-color photograph of the finished dish, for those who need the visual stimulation of knowing what dining pleasures lie ahead!  milk street

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