The clocks have moved back and given us one more glorious hour for reading. We hope you spent it wisely—riveted in a new book! If the new time change and chillier days have you feeling out of sorts, pick up one of these reads, new in paperback this November, to soothe your mind now and all the way through the winter season. With powerful memoirs, international thrillers, and gripping alternate reality reads, this list is filled with enough excitement and inspiration to keep you fully absorbed until the clocks spring forward once again.
I’m a big fan of memoirs, and WHEN TIME STOPPED is the ideal nonfiction book club read for me. Part detective story and part family history, the book recounts Ariana Neumann’s experience uncovering her father’s past and family history. Growing up in Venezuela, Ariana knew something terrible had happened to her father but didn’t know much about his experience escaping the Nazis. When he died, he left her a box of letters and memorabilia, which sent her on a journey around the world to uncover the man he truly was and the legacy he left behind. It’s a powerful family saga, and it’s utterly engrossing.
In this astonishing story that “reads like a thriller and is so, so timely” (BuzzFeed) Ariana Neumann dives into the secrets of her father’s past: “Like Anne Frank’s diary, it offers a story that needs to be told and heard” (Booklist, starred review).
In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book.
Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. One of the survivors was Hans Neumann, who, to escape the German death net, traveled to Berlin and hid in plain sight under the Gestapo’s eyes. What Hans experienced was so unspeakable that, when he built an industrial empire in Venezuela, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it. All his daughter Ariana knew was that something terrible had happened.
When Hans died, he left Ariana a small box filled with letters, diary entries, and other memorabilia. Ten years later Ariana finally summoned the courage to have the letters translated, and she began reading. What she discovered launched her on a worldwide search that would deliver indelible portraits of a family loving, finding meaning, and trying to survive amid the worst that can be imagined.
A “beautifully told story of personal discovery” (John le Carré), When Time Stopped is an unputdownable detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life, and this “gripping, expertly researched narrative will inspire those looking to uncover their own family histories” (Publishers Weekly).
Heather’s Pick #1
Anita Abriel’s THE LIGHT AFTER THE WAR is inspired by a true story that’s quite close to the author’s heart—her mother’s own escape from the Nazis. In the novel, Vera Frankel and Edith Ban, Jewish best friends from Hungary, somehow make it off a train speeding toward Auschwitz and find refuge at a farm in Austria until the war ends. That’s only the beginning of their beautifully told and bittersweet story, though, as they fight to reclaim their lives in a devastated Europe post-Holocaust—beginning careers, falling in love, and deepening their friendship.
Inspired by an incredible true story of two Jewish friends who survived the Holocaust, this “heartfelt and memorable tale of family, love, resilience, and the triumph of human spirit” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author) spans World War II from Budapest to Austria and the postwar years from Naples to Caracas, perfect for fans of The German Girl and We Were the Lucky Ones.
Spring 1946: Best friends Vera Frankel and Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women are starting new lives abroad.
Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight. But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss.
Moving, evocative, and compelling, The Light After the War is a timely and “unforgettable story of strength, love, and survival” (Jillian Cantor, USA TODAY bestselling author).
Sharon’s Pick #1
CIA superagent Mitch Rapp has been fighting against terrorism for more than a decade, successfully stopping several cataclysmic events from occurring. In CONSENT TO KILL, it is Rapp who becomes the target as the vengeful father of a deceased terrorist vows revenge. Even among America’s allies, some want to see Rapp eliminated, and he is thrown into an international conspiracy. The result is a white-knuckle cat-and-mouse chase for survival that makes CONSENT TO KILL one of Flynn’s most explosive novels
In this blistering thriller by New York Times bestselling author and “king of high-concept political intrigue” (Dan Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author), CIA operative Mitch Rapp becomes a target of bloodthirsty vengeance for a deceased terrorist’s father.
For more than a decade, CIA superagent Mitch Rapp has been on the front line of the war on terror. Now, he’s on a race against time to save one more life—his own—in this “fast, fun read” (People).
The influential father of a slain terrorist demands retribution for the death of his son at Rapp’s hands. In the tangled, duplicitous world of espionage there are those, even among America’s allies, who feel Mitch Rapp has grown too effective at his deadly job. They have been looking for an excuse to eliminate the number one counterterrorism operative, and they are determined to seize the chance with an explosive international conspiracy. Now the hunter is the hunted, and Rapp must rely on his razor-sharp instincts for survival—and justice—as he unleashes his fury on those who have betrayed him.
Heather’s Pick #2
I’m fascinated by alternate history, the exploration of how one historical event going a different way would mean we’d be living in a whole new world. Comparing what would and wouldn’t have turned out the same way is half the fun. That’s why I love A LONGER FALL. The second adventure in Charlaine Harris’s Gunnie Rose series is set in just such a hard-boiled alternate universe, in which FDR has been assassinated before implementing his New Deal and ending the Great Depression—and, as a result, the United States fractured into different territories. It is in this milieu that hired gun Lizbeth Rose signs on for what she expects will be an in-and-out job. Of course it doesn’t actually go according to plan, because life rarely does. Instead, the crate Lizbeth is supposed to deliver gets stolen in a bloody holdup. To get it back, she must team up with an old friend and go undercover.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris returns with “a gripping, twisty-turny, thrill ride of a read (Karin Slaughter) in which Lizbeth is hired onto a new crew, transporting a crate into Dixie, the self-exiled southeast territory of the former United States. What the crate contains is something so powerful, that forces from across three territories want to possess it.
In this second thrilling installment of the Gunnie Rose series, Lizbeth Rose is hired onto a new crew for a seemingly easy protection job. She is tasked with transporting a crate into Dixie, just about the last part of the former United States of America she wants to visit. But what seemed like a straightforward job turns into a massacre as the crate is stolen. Up against a wall in Dixie, where social norms have stepped back into the last century, Lizbeth has to go undercover with an old friend to retrieve the crate as what’s inside can spark a rebellion, if she can get it back in time.
“Another winning series from a sure-bet author” (Booklist) Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and Midnight, Texas trilogy) is at her best here, building the world of this alternate history of the United States, where magic is an acknowledged but despised power.
IN FIVE YEARS exploded on the literary scene this year, with everyone raving about the atmospheric NYC setting, best friend vibes, and that shocking ending. But not many people are aware that Rebecca Serle has some equally wonderful backlist gems. WHEN YOU WERE MINE is being rereleased in paperback with a gorgeous new cover style. This is a contemporary YA retelling of Romeo and Juliet that images what happened to the girl that Romeo was supposed to love. What does she and everyone really think of Juliet? Filled with themes of destiny and jealousy, this book explores how seeing things from a different perspective can change everything.
From the New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years comes an intensely romantic modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told—narrated by the girl Romeo was supposed to love.
What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: everything.
Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit wild...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t stand a chance.
Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.
Sharon’s Pick #2
In MARLEY, Jon Clinch breathes life into Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, the cunning Jacob Marley, in this imagining of what occurred before the events of A Christmas Carol. The origins of their friendship lie in their meeting at Professor Drabb’s Academy for Boys, where Marley teaches Scrooge about the art of extortion. As they grow up, the two create a fledgling shipping empire based upon Marley’s deceit and Scrooge’s talent with numbers. However, their partnership strains as the two men engage in a duplicitous greed-fueled conflict that will set the stage for Marley’s ghostly return.
The acclaimed author of Finn “digs down to the bones of a classic and creates must-read modern literature” (Charles Frazier, New York Times bestselling author) with this “clever riff” (The Washington Post) on Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol that explores of the relationship between Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley.
“Marley was dead, to begin with,” Charles Dickens tells us at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. But in Jon Clinch’s “masterly” (The New York Times Book Review) novel, Jacob Marley, business partner to Ebenezer Scrooge, is very much alive: a rapacious and cunning boy who grows up to be a forger, a scoundrel, and the man who will be both the making and the undoing of Scrooge.
They meet as youths in the gloomy confines of Professor Drabb’s Academy for Boys, where Marley begins their twisted friendship by initiating the innocent Scrooge into the art of extortion. Years later, in the dank heart of London, their shared ambition manifests itself in a fledgling shipping empire. Between Marley’s genius for deception and Scrooge’s brilliance with numbers, they amass a considerable fortune of dubious legality, all rooted in a pitiless commitment to the soon-to-be-outlawed slave trade.
As Marley toys with the affections of Scrooge’s sister, Fan, Scrooge falls under the spell of Fan’s best friend, Belle Fairchild. Now, for the first time, Scrooge and Marley find themselves at odds. With their business interests inextricably bound together and instincts for secrecy and greed bred in their very bones, the two men engage in a shadowy war of deception, forged documents, theft, and cold-blooded murder. Marley and Scrooge are destined to clash in an unforgettable reckoning that will echo into the future and set the stage for Marley’s ghostly return.
“Read through to the last page of this brilliant book, and I promise you that you will have a permanently changed view, not just of Dickens’s world, but of the world we live in today” (Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author).
Sharon’s Pick #3
Helen Fremont, author of the bestselling memoir AFTER LONG SILENCE, returns to her family as the primary subject in THE ESCAPE ARTIST. In this memoir, Fremont untangles the web of secrets that held her family together—her parents’ practice of Catholicism when they were actually Jews who survived the Nazi occupation of Poland, her sister’s disintegrating mental health, and her own struggles with disordered eating and attempting to sort out her sexual identity. The family’s secret-keeping comes to a head when she is disinherited in her father’s will, and ultimately learns of the consequences of the family’s devotion to secret-keeping.
A luminous new memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller After Long Silence, The Escape Artist has been lauded by New York Times bestselling author Mary Karr as “beautifully written, honest, and psychologically astute. A must-read.”
In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and George Hodgman’s Bettyville, Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on to both Helen and her older sister a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world.
Fremont delves deeply into the family dynamic that produced such a startling devotion to secret keeping, beginning with the painful and unexpected discovery that she has been disinherited in her father’s will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, She writes about growing up in such an intemperate household, with parents who pretended to be Catholics but were really Jews—and survivors of Nazi-occupied Poland. She shares tales of family therapy sessions, disordered eating, her sister’s frequently unhinged meltdowns, and her own romantic misadventures as she tries to sort out her sexual identity. Searching, poignant, and ultimately redemptive, The Escape Artist is a powerful contribution to the memoir shelf.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME changed my life. It altered the way I look at and think about blackness, black bodies, and how our society responds to them. Naturally, when I saw he was publishing his first novel, I knew it would shoot to the top of my TBR list. A work of historical fiction, THE WATER DANCER takes us along with Hiram Walker as he escapes the only home he’s ever known. Out tomorrow in paperback, this fictional depiction of slavery features an added touch of Coates’s enthralling magical realism.
Sharon’s Pick #4
The sequel to the beloved OLIVE KITTERIDGE transports readers back to Crosby, Maine, with one of contemporary literature’s most memorable protagonists. OLIVE, AGAIN is a brilliant exploration of human nature, featuring a collection of short stories woven together with the honest, occasionally cantankerous voice of Olive Kitteridge. The short stories in OLIVE, AGAIN discuss love, loss, familial relationships, and regrets, as Olive, now in her eighties, reflects on her sense of self as well as the lives of those around her.
Photo credit: tirlikk / iStock