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Hi mystery fans! This week I have for you crime stories, a multiple point of view small-town mystery, and one of my favorite series!
Sponsored by Vertical, Inc.
Where did Sherlock Holmes go during his famous disappearance between his death at Reichenbach Falls and reappearance in Baker Street, three years later? God of mystery Keisuke Matsuoka contends that it was in the Far East—in Japan, to be exact. In 1891, Nicholas Alexandrovich, the Tsarevich of Russia, was traveling in a fragile Meiji-era Japan on an official tour when he was almost assassinated. The Otsu Incident, as this came to be known, led to fear of an international incident, perhaps even a declaration of war from Russia. In steps Sherlock Holmes—on the run from the British police and presumed to be dead. Together with Hirobumi Ito, the first Prime Minister of Japan, the two unlikely allies immerse themselves in a knotted tangle of politics, deceit, and great powers.
Good Dark-ish Crime Short Stories (TW suicide/ domestic abuse)
Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories by Young-Ha Kim, Krys Lee (Translation): This felt like reading a novella and three short stories that all either follow a criminal and/or those affected by crime. It starts with the title of the novel, which was super interesting as it’s a retired serial killer diagnosed with dementia. He’s upset that he thinks he recognizes his daughter’s boyfriend and knows the man is going to do her harm. It only escalates from there and feels like a psychological thriller because what is real and what are thoughts caused by his dementia? There’s also a story about an affair gone wrong, and an abducted child found 10 years later who is trying to fit back in with his family, and a bonkers-y tale of a writer with writer’s block–which I found the funniest. The stories are dark-ish, dry humored, and a good read for crime fans, neo-noir fans, and a good place to start if you’re a mystery/thriller fan who has never read crime before–and by that I mean there is no puzzle mystery you’re trying to solve, it’s just an exploration of humans through the lens of criminal acts.
Small-Town Mystery! (TW suicide attempt/ talk of pedophile)
Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf: Ever since I read Umami by Laia Jufresa, Sophie Hughes (Translation) I’ve been in love with novels that have multiple point of view ranging from children to adults. When done well, it offers such a great insight from different perspectives. And, obviously, I tell you this because Gudenkauf did this very successfully in Before She Was Found. I got a small-town mystery, which I love, plus multiple points of view ranging from tweens to seniors (the older than 65 kind not the high school grade). Twelve-year-old Cora Landry is found a bloody mess on the train tracks–instead of at home having a slumber party–with her friend covered in blood, and the third girl’s whereabouts unknown. As the parents, doctors, and police try to figure out what happened, the girls offer no help… This is a page-turner as the pieces are put together following Violet’s mother being pressured to have her daughter talk, Jordyn’s grandfather doing everything he can to protect his granddaughter from accusations, police interrogations, a doctor’s insights, and Landry’s journal. There are plenty of suspects, including an urban legend, to keep you guessing until the end.
May This Series Go On For-EV-er
A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) by Deanna Raybourn: I absolutely adore this series! If you’re already a fan and have yet to catch up I highly recommend you do so–I’d been saving this book as a treat and am now bummed my treat is done, but glad it was so delicious. Speedwell and Stoker find themselves caught in family drama on a remote island while solving the case of a missing bride–all while Speedwell pretends to be Stoker’s brother’s fiancée. I know!! If you’ve yet to read this series let me tell you all the reasons why you should: It follows Veronica Speedwell, a lepidopterist, who refuses to marry or abide by societies rules; Stoker, a natural historian and pain in the cheeks you sit on, is always around to help solve the mystery, join in on the adventure, and steam things up; the witty banter; it’s so funny; it’s fun; the mysteries are great; interesting history; family drama; will they or won’t they?! If you like shows like Castle, where the leads kind of want to strangle each other but also you’re waiting for them to steam up the windows, you’ll love Speedwell and Stoker. And if I still haven’t sold you I’ll just leave you with one of the many reasons I love Speedwell so much:
“‘Did he have a good cause?’
‘Is there ever a good cause to choke a fellow human being?’ he asked, blinking slowly.
‘I can think of at least a dozen,’ I replied.”
I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney (Psychological thriller)
A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas (When your patient looks like your missing son…)
Murder on Trinity Place (Gaslight Mystery #22) by Victoria Thompson (Historical mystery)
Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Jon Land (Paperback)
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Greetings and salutations, nonfiction nerds! Even though it’s officially May 1, we’ve got one more blockbuster week of April new releases to get excited about. This week’s new releases cover socialism, Sicily, spelling bees, and more — let’s check it out!
Sponsored by Scribd
In 1978, Harper Lee’s fame had reached a fever pitch following the remarkable success of her debut novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but she had written little of consequence in the nearly two decades since. She was searching for her next book when the perfect story landed in her lap. A call from back home in Alabama lit the match: A reverend — described as “six-feet-four-inches of majesty and dread” — allegedly murdered five of his family members, without detection. Each time, he got rich off their life insurance policies but reaped no consequences. Vanity Fair’s special correspondent, Mark Seal, retraces the legendary novelist’s return home to Alabama to chase down a true crime mystery for the ages in THE DEVIL AND HARPER LEE.
All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr – After her father (journalist David Carr) died unexpectedly, Erin Lee Carr began to revisit their entire correspondence – nearly 2,000 items – to see what comfort and lessons she could find there.
The Socialist Manifesto by Bhaskar Sunkara – Writer Bhaskar Sunkara looks at the history of socialism from the mid-1800s and shows how it offers a way to “fight all forms of oppression, including racism and sexism” in the 21st century.
From Scratch by Tembi Locke – A young woman falls in love with an Italian chef, but his family objects to his marriage to a black woman. After years of estrangement, the family reconciles in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, and the woman finds comfort and healing at her mother-in-law’s table.
Beeline by Shalini Shankar – An anthropologist uses the lens of the National Spelling Bee to explore Generation Z (kids born after 1997) and their families, exploring the major life skills the competitors develop and the impact of immigrants and immigrant families on this age group. This one is really fun so far.
Mama’s Boy by Dustin Lance Black – A memoir by a filmmaker and activist about his conservative Mormon mother and how they managed to bridge the gap between his sexuality and her faith.
And with that, I’ll round out this newsletter with five more books to put on your radar:
- Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took On Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime by Julian Guthrie
- What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence, edited by Michele Fildate
- Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff
- African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard
- No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by Daniel J Kennefick
This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by Cape May by Chip Cheek, published by Celadon Books.
THE BEDWETTER Musical Will Premiere Soon
Sarah Silverman’s memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, is getting the musical adaptation treatment and will be Off Broadway at The Atlantic Theatre Company within the year, she said at Tribeca Talks. This was a really good memoir and I’m super interested to see what songs come from it.
The Baby-Sitters Club Gets Audiobook Treatment
More than 100 of the books in Ann M. Martin’s series–I didn’t know there were that many!–will be audiobooks on Audible come August 13th. The first five books in the series are narrated by Elle Fanning. Somewhere someone just challenged themselves to a Baby-Sitters Club audiobook marathon.
Berkeley middle schools have the coolest competition: students compete to show not only who read the most books but who internalized the most information about the books. To learn more about this fun competition–and to be super jealous it didn’t exist when you were in school–read here.
Hey YA readers: Open up your TBR because you’ll be making it longer.
“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Inebriated by Katey Taylor.
Barely seventeen and as pretty as can be: the summer is their playground. Cait and her best friends take on San Francisco’s party scene with fake IDs and short dresses. When Cait meets Adrien Cross, the charismatic lead singer of her favorite band, she’s introduced to a hedonistic world of liquor and lust that she never wants to leave. But then that world spirals out of control and the harsh realities of reckless living take a toll on Cait and the ones she loves. What will be left when the makeup masks wash off, the bottles are empty, and Cait loses her grip on everything?
Get a head start on your reading plans for the fall and add these great books to your (already crumbling, tumbling, falling over) to-be-read piles and lists. Since I have not yet read any of these, I’m relying on Amazon descriptions — I have these on my own to-read, too.
Not to give you heart palpitations or anything, but the next preview newsletter in a few weeks will begin to feature (gasp!) 2020 titles.
The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams (Sept 17)
Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.
And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.
Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?
The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”
Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (August 6)
Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.
Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.
When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.
They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson (Oct 22)
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Sept 10)
There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
The Stars and The Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Sept 17)
Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.
Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.
Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.
The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring (Sept 24)
At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi―a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother―it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.
Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house―despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.
One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery―and then fight for her life.
Verify by Joelle Charbonneau (Sept 24)
Meri Beckley lives in a world without lies. When she looks at the peaceful Chicago streets, she feels pride in the era of unprecedented hope and prosperity over which the governor presides.
But when Meri’s mother is killed, Meri suddenly has questions that no one else seems to be asking. And when she tries to uncover her mother’s state of mind in her last weeks, she finds herself drawn into a secret world with a history she didn’t know existed.
Suddenly, Meri is faced with a choice between accepting the “truth” or embracing a world the government doesn’t want anyone to see—a world where words have the power to change the course of a country and where the wrong ones can get Meri killed.
Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker (Sept 24)
Trapped in sunny, stifling, small-town suburbia, seventeen-year-old Morgan knows why she’s in therapy. She can’t count the number of times she’s been the only non-white person at the sleepover, been teased for her “weird” outfits, and been told she’s not “really” black. Also, she’s spent most of her summer crying in bed. So there’s that, too.
Lately, it feels like the whole world is listening to the same terrible track on repeat–and it’s telling them how to feel, who to vote for, what to believe. Morgan wonders, when can she turn this song off and begin living for herself?
Life may be a never-ending hamster wheel of agony, but Morgan finds her crew of fellow outcasts, blasts music like there’s no tomorrow, discovers what being black means to her, and finally puts her mental health first. She decides that, no matter what, she will always be intense, ridiculous, passionate, and sometimes hilarious. After all, darkness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Darkness is just real.
Thanks for hanging out, y’all, and we’ll see you again soon!
Today’s The Stack is sponsored by John Wick.
When a young John Wick embarks upon an epic vendetta, he comes up against a strange, powerful community of assassins and must learn how to master the rules that guide their lethal business. What are the Three Bills? Who is Calamity? And why is John Wick seeking vengeance?
Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by Vertical, Inc.
Where did Sherlock Holmes go during his famous disappearance between his death at Reichenbach Falls and reappearance in Baker Street, three years later? God of mystery Keisuke Matsuoka contends that it was in the Far East—in Japan, to be exact. In 1891, Nicholas Alexandrovich, the Tsarevich of Russia, was traveling in a fragile Meiji-era Japan on an official tour when he was almost assassinated. The Otsu Incident, as this came to be known, led to fear of an international incident, perhaps even a declaration of war from Russia. In steps Sherlock Holmes—on the run from the British police and presumed to be dead. Together with Hirobumi Ito, the first Prime Minister of Japan, the two unlikely allies immerse themselves in a knotted tangle of politics, deceit, and great powers. In this deftly researched and immersive novel, based on real historical events, the great Sherlock Holmes stakes his flag in modern history in the turbulent early years of a rising Japan buffeted by the winds of change.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
It’s May 1st, yo! Since I’m writing this in the last few days of April, I’ve just gotta do it. Whether you’re down with JT or not, one thing remains true:
Now that we’ve all taken a few minutes to sing that lyric aloud in our NSYNCiest voice (you know you did it!), let’s chat complicated histories, city-wide books clubs, and the reasons women stay silent.
To the club!!
This newsletter is sponsored by Cape May by Chip Cheek, published by Celadon Books.
A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated urbanites.
Question for the Club
Our QFTCs will be posed in the first newsletter of each month going forward and this one happens to land on May 1st! Here’s this month’s query for you fine people:
This is Why We’re Silent
It never fails: a woman comes forward about her sexual assault and immediately the Why Did You Wait So Long brigade comes through in full force. The pattern is one Rioter Steph Auteri has become all too familiar with in almost two decades of writing about women’s sexuality. She put together a list of books that elucidate the many reasons why women wait to report sexual assault.
Book Club Bonus:
While not everyone who asks “why did you wait?” is necessarily doubting a woman’s account of her attack, it so often feels like the question is an indictment and not one rooted in genuine and compassionate concern. Do the work to read one of these selections at book club and dig in deeply to dissect one another’s understanding of the reasons women wait. This important conversation has the potential to be transformative on so many levels; it could also help those of us who maybe don’t feel like we have the words to explain the concepts to other people.
Just Touched Down in Book Club Town
Forgive me for the Kanye lyric! Estelle’s American Boy still goes so hard, plus that song was from before dude found an affinity for red hats and hair dye. Anyway, focus on this instead: there’s a citywide book club going down in London this month! The festival is called Cityread and it transforms London into one big ol’ interactive book club. This sounds so freakin’ rad!
Book Club Bonus: I was thinking about how fun it would be to take book club on the road and participate in the varied programming available all month long, and then wondered what it might be like to spend a whole year (or half, or a quarter, whatever your comfort level) book-club hopping. Instead of your usual club gathering with your regular crew, switch it up and “crash” a different one every month: one at your local indie, one at your library, maybe an online club or one from a Meetup group. You might find yourself reading outside your comfort zone and meeting some cool new people!
I have been meaning to read Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana since way before I actually went there (yep, stiiiill managing to fit in Cuba talk! #relentless). Now the companion novel When We Left Cuba has hit the shelves and these five reasons to pick up both books are really calling my name. I love that they touch on the diaspora and America’s role in Cuban history.
Book Club Bonus: Speaking of Cuba… It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the allure of the colorful buildings, the music playing in the street, the salty wind blowing through your hair as you drive down the Malecón in a classic car under the warm Caribbean sun. I had to keep reminding myself that so much of Cuba’s complex history – especially the United States’ involvement – has been romanticized for our benefit when it’s decidedly anything but pretty. I’m really into the idea of reading books that explore American contribution to the destabilization of countries that we sort of turn our noses up at now. Hint: our hands aren’t clean. Titles that come to mind (ones I haven’t read but that have piqued my interest: The Killing Zone by Stephen G. Rabe and Inevitable Revolutions by Walter Lafeber.
- Teen Vogue’s Book Club Begins With Sally Rooney’s 2019 Novel Normal People
- G. Willow Wilson’s “The Bird King” Is BuzzFeed Book Club’s May Pick. Here’s A Sneak Peek
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, get it on the Read Harder podcast, and watch me booktube every Friday too.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Happy last day of April! Can you believe it??? Everything here in Maine is so green. It’s true – I can see it out the windows. I have my hammock set up in my library now, and I spent the weekend reading old horror novels that frightened me as a child. It was pretty much perfect. (Even if I didn’t think the books I read were scary anymore.) And now I am enjoying Spring by Ali Smith, the third book in her Seasonal Quartet. (Spoiler: It’s fantastic.) And speaking of reading, I have a few of today’s amazing new releases to tell you about. And you can hear about more awesome reads on this week’s episode of the All the Books! Trisha and I talked about The Invited, Mama’s Boy, Let’s Tell This Story Properly, and more great books.
Sponsored by Amazon Publishing
Moscow hides a million secrets. This ex-CIA agent is about to discover an all-American deception in the underbelly of the Russian capital. Charles Jenkins is lured to Moscow for one last assignment, but nothing adds up. And as he gets dangerously closer to the truth, he finds himself abandoned by the agency he serves. In the game of spy vs. spy, there are no winners. From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series comes a new edge-of-your-seat thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery. Read The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni. Prime members read for free.
Aru Shah and the Song of Death (Pandava Series) by Roshani Chokshi
If you listen to the podcasts, you already know that I am a HUGE fan of the first book in this series. If you haven’t read the first book, I’m not going to spoil anything here for you. I just wanted another chance to endorse it, because they’re both fantastic. It starts with a young girl named Aru Shah, who touches a magic artifact in a museum, all to impress the school bullies. Unfortunately, whoops, it sets off the end times. Which means F-U-N for us! I love Aru Shah. She can be foolish and selfish, but she’s also brave, clever, and compassionate. And her nervous pigeon sidekick is great. Give these books to the Harry Potter lovers in your life. (After you’ve read them yourself, because really, they’re wonderful.)
Backlist bump: Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Series) by Roshani Chokshi
Walking on the Ceiling by Aysegül Savas
In this beautiful meditation on grief and memory, Nunu, a young Turkish woman, moves from Istanbul to Paris after the death of her mother. There she meets M., a British writer she has long-admired. As their friendship grows, she finds herself telling him things she hadn’t even admitted to herself, about her family, her country, and her grief. And she’s left wondering what she should keep to herself. It’s a wonderful debut.
Backlist bump: Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The author follows her wonderful American debut, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, with this charming, emotional novel about three Punjabi sisters traveling to their homeland to lay their mother to rest. The Shergill sisters have never been close, each one so different from the others, but they cannot refuse their mother’s dying wish: that her daughters travel together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. On their life-affirming journey, the sisters will learn things about their mother, each other, and themselves, that will change their lives forever.
Backlist bump: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Thanks so much for visiting me here each week! Y’all are the best.