It’s a new year, people! Time to reset those Goodreads goals and get your book nooks in order (and by that we mean get yourself an extra bookshelf!) for a fresh year of reading. You’re going to need to do some serious reorganizing after looking through our most anticipated books of January. From twisted thrillers to cozy mysteries to philosophical gems, here are a few new releases hitting bookshelves this month that we’re most excited about!
Kaitie’s Pick: I’m a huge mystery/thriller and murder mystery fan, so picking up an early copy of GREENWICH PARK was a no-brainer for me—and I am so glad I did. Katherine Faulkner’s whip-smart, twisty thriller about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets is unputdownable. I don’t remember the last book before GREENWICH PARK that I read in one sitting. With a strong parallel to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, GREENWICH PARK will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing until the last page.
“Gripping and haunting and gorgeously suspenseful. I couldn’t put this thriller down and can’t recommend it highly enough.” —Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl
A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller, as electrifying as the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets.
Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.
But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.
Jordyn’s Pick #1: I have not read such a delightful mystery in a long time! THE MAID is full of memorable characters that make this book such a fun, cozy mystery that keeps you guessing. The main character, Molly, loves her job and takes a lot of pride in her work as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. After recently losing her gran, who helped to interpret a lot of the social cues Molly misses, she’s trying to make the most of her days while cleaning rooms and remembering what her gran taught her. Molly’s life takes a turn when she’s the first person to find a dead body during a regular workday and becomes the lead suspect.
Sharon’s Pick: Admittedly, MOUTH TO MOUTH is one of those books that I knew I wanted to read based on the cover alone. Cover aside, the premise is instantly intriguing: the book’s narrator runs into Jeff Cook, a former classmate of his, at an airport, and summarily Jeff goes on to divulge his entire life story. The narrator and readers are taken on a journey as Jeff recounts how he resuscitated a drowning man at the beach who turned out to be renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault. Jeff explains how he begins to visit Francis’s art gallery and gets taken under his wing, and how he catapults up through the art world. Riveting and sharp, MOUTH TO MOUTH is an engrossing look at the opportunities and events that change and shift lives in drastic fashion.
“An enthralling literary puzzle...This powerful, intoxicating book’s greatest tension is that we have no idea where it is heading.” —The New York Times
A successful art dealer confesses the story of his meteoric rise in this “sleek, swift, and graceful” novel “with unexpectedly sharp teeth” (Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author).
In a first-class lounge at JFK airport, our narrator listens as Jeff Cook, a former classmate he only vaguely remembers, shares the uncanny story of his adult life—a life that changed course years before, the moment he resuscitated a drowning man.
Jeff reveals that after that traumatic, galvanizing morning on the beach, he was compelled to learn more about the man whose life he had saved, convinced that their fates were now entwined. But are we agents of our fate—or are we its pawns? Upon discovering that the man is renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault, Jeff begins to surreptitiously visit his Beverly Hills gallery. Although Francis does not seem to recognize him as the man who saved his life, he nevertheless casts his legendary eye on Jeff and sees something worthy. He takes the younger man under his wing, initiating him into his world, where knowledge, taste, and access are currency; a world where value is constantly shifting and calling into question what is real, and what matters. The paths of the two men come together and diverge in dizzying ways until the novel’s staggering ending.
Sly, suspenseful, and engrossing, Mouth to Mouth masterfully blurs the line between opportunity and exploitation, self-respect and self-delusion, fact and fiction—exposing the myriad ways we deceive each other, and ourselves.
Megan’s Pick: Craving an Agatha Christie–type murder mystery? Look no further than Janice Hallett’s THE APPEAL, an epistolary novel where two junior lawyers are given emails, transcripts, and texts from fifteen members of a community theater production that ended in a murder. It’s up to the lawyers (and the reader) to read between the lines of the briefing to uncover what really happened. I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before. Are you up for the challenge?
Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.
The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.
But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.
A wholly modern take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a “daring…clever, and funny” (The Times) debut for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.
Andie’s Pick: I am a major Michael Robotham stan, so WHEN YOU ARE MINE is at the top of my TBR list. This stand-alone thriller follows young police officer Philomena McCarthy as she faces danger on all fronts—from a clever victim of abuse who has entangled her in a web of secrets and corruption to her colleagues on the force, and even her own mobster father. The complex characters in this novel seem as twisty as the plot and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy. If WHEN YOU ARE MINE is anything like Robotham’s other page-turners, this will be a one-sitting read.
In this page-turning psychological thriller from an author who Stephen King called “an absolute master,” a young female police officer faces danger on all fronts—from a clever victim of abuse, her colleagues on the force, and even her own mobster father.
Philomena McCarthy is a young, ambitious police office with the elite Metropolitan Police in London. When she responds to a domestic violence call, she finds the victim, Tempe Brown, trying to protect her abuser, a married man named Darren Goodall, a decorated Scotland Yard detective afraid of no one. As Philomena pursues the case against him, she not only encounters resistance from her police force colleagues but also becomes dangerously entangled with the victim—who is not at all whom she appears to be—much to the increasing endangerment of herself and Henry, her fiancée.
Complicating matters is Philomena’s estranged father Edward McCarthy, a powerful man who has built a criminal empire along with his brothers. Philomena has long tried to pursue her career as a police officer without her father’s involvement, but as she falls under suspicion of stalking and harassing Goodall, her father becomes involved.
As the situation escalates, Tempe’s sinister maneuvers further entangle Philomena in a web of secrets, corruption, and murder, putting Philomena’s impending marriage, career, and very survival in jeopardy…
Spellbinding, suspenseful, and filled with complex characters that could be heroes or villains, Robotham has crafted a smart and propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.
Molly’s Pick: If you’re not immediately familiar with the name Mike Schur, you surely recognize some of the iconic television shows he’s written for or created, including The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place. He’s a fantastic writer who has developed some of my favorite characters who are both flawed and good. In The Good Place, we learn that our actions on earth are measured by a point system that determines whether we deserve to end up in the utopian afterlife. Giving out full-size candy bars at Halloween, for example, nets you 633.59 points, whereas rooting for the New York Yankees strips 99.15 (as it should). Throughout the series, the characters learn about ethics and debate philosophical quandaries in playful and creative ways. In Mike Schur’s HOW TO BE PERFECT, a guide on how to live an ethical life, he expands on this exercise. Drawing from 2,400 years of society’s most respected philosophical minds, he imbues wit and humor to questions we all face, ranging from “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” to “Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people?”. It’s the book I’m most excited to share with my friends and family next year.
From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.
Emily’s Pick #1: Ever since reading Lisa Jewell’s THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS last fall, I’ve been looking for more books that hold that special recipe: creepy house, unreliable narrators, a tinge of psychological intrigue. ALL I WANT by Darcey Bell looks like a promising contender! When Emma and her husband move to a solitary Victorian house in upstate New York, the isolation is more than Emma bargained for with her husband still commuting to NYC for work. As she begins digging into the history of the house and as strange occurrences keep popping up, she tries getting through to Ben about her eerie sense of dread, but he doesn’t believe her. Completely alone with her thoughts, Emma’s sense of reality, history, and fantasy all begin to meld.
The New York Times bestselling author of A Simple Favor brings her “sly, satirical, subversive” (L.S. Hilton, author of Ultima) prose to a pitch-perfect psychological suspense novel about a young couple whose disintegrating marriage and remote new home in rural, upstate New York make for a terrifying descent into the darker side of human nature.
When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house.
Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?
Combining the domestic anxiety of Liane Moriarty and the haunting twists and turns of Shirley Jackson, All I Want is an intensely absorbing novel that will change the way you look at your neighbors.
Emily’s Pick #2: The title and cover and premise of this book are all so beautiful and heartbreaking that it makes me want to cry without lifting a page. If there’s anything that can get me excited to read a book, it’s the promise of cathartic tears. When we first meet Hadi and Sama, they’re both longing to reunite—Sama is pregnant and waiting at the airport for Hadi to arrive, but Hadi is still trapped in Syria due to Visa issues after attending his father’s funeral. We then learn about each character’s past and present, told in beautiful prose, and exploring themes of migration, home, and starting over.
Exit West meets An American Marriage in this breathtaking and evocative novel about a young Syrian couple in the throes of new love, on the cusp of their bright future…when a travel ban rips them apart on the eve of their son’s birth—from the author of the “absorbing page-turner” (People) The Girls at 17 Swann Street.
Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging.
When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.
Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?
Achingly intimate yet poignantly universal, No Land to Light On is the story of a family caught up in forces beyond their control, fighting for the freedom and home they found in one another.
Jordyn’s Pick #2: It’s a tall order to compare a book to THE HANDMAID’S TALE, but I’m going to do it. THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS is for fans of THE HANDMAID’S TALE the TV show Westworld, and Naomi Alderman’s THE POWER. It’s for anyone who likes dystopian stories that reflect real issues we’re facing today. This book is so compelling it’s hard to put down, and even harder to stop talking about it. Our main character, Frida, had a very bad day, and as a result is sent to a government facility where the goal is to teach women how to be good mothers. But she soon finds that the standards of the program are incredibly high and the prospect of losing custody of her daughter adds pressure. This exploration of motherhood is so witty and emotional, you won’t be able to put it down.
In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.
A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
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