Flags on the Bayou by James Lee Burke
In the fall of 1863, the Union army is in control of the Mississippi river. Much of Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is occupied. The Confederate army is retreating toward Texas, and being replaced by Red Legs, irregulars commanded by a maniacal figure, and enslaved men and women are beginning to glimpse freedom.
When Hannah Laveau, an enslaved woman working on the Lufkin plantation, is accused of murder, she goes on the run with Florence Milton, an abolitionist schoolteacher, dodging the local constable and the slavecatchers that prowl the bayous. Wade Lufkin, haunted by what he observed—and did—as a surgeon on the battlefield, has returned to his uncle’s plantation to convalesce, where he becomes enraptured by Hannah. Flags on the Bayou is an engaging, action-packed narrative that includes a duel that ends in disaster, a brutal encounter with the local Union commander, repeated skirmishes with Confederate irregulars led by a diseased and probably deranged colonel, and a powerful story of love blossoming between an unlikely pair. As the story unfolds, it illuminates a past that reflects our present in sharp relief.
The Beast You Are: Stories by Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay has won widespread acclaim for illuminating the dark horrors of the mind in novels and stories that push the boundaries of storytelling itself. The fifteen pieces in this brilliant collection, The Beast You Are, are all monsters of a kind, ready to loudly (and lovingly) smash through your head and into your heart.
In “The Dead Thing,” a middle-schooler struggles to deal with the aftermath of her parents’ substance addictions and split. One day, her little brother claims he found a shoebox with “the dead thing” inside. He won’t show it to her and he won’t let the box out of his sight. In “The Last Conversation,” a person wakes in a sterile, white room and begins to receive instructions via intercom from a woman named Anne. When they are finally allowed to leave the room to complete a task, what they find is as shocking as it is heartbreaking.
The title novella, “The Beast You Are,” is a mini epic in which the destinies and secrets of a village, a dog, and a cat are intertwined with a giant monster that returns to wreak havoc every thirty years.
The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial by David Lipsky
In 1956, the New York Times prophesied that once global warming really kicked in, we could see parrots in the Antarctic. In 2010, when science deniers had control of the climate story, Senator James Inhofe and his family built an igloo on the Washington Mall and plunked a sign on top: AL GORE’S NEW HOME: HONK IF YOU LOVE CLIMATE CHANGE. In The Parrot and the Igloo, best-selling author David Lipsky tells the astonishing story of how we moved from one extreme (the correct one) to the other.
With narrative sweep and a superb eye for character, Lipsky unfolds the dramatic narrative of the long, strange march of climate science. The story begins with a tale of three inventors―Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla―who made our technological world, not knowing what they had set into motion. Then there are the scientists who sounded the alarm once they identified carbon dioxide as the culprit of our warming planet. And we meet the hucksters, zealots, and crackpots who lied about that science and misled the public in ever more outrageous ways. Lipsky masterfully traces the evolution of climate denial, exposing how it grew out of early efforts to build a network of untruth about products like aspirin and cigarettes.
All-Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky
On the night of her high school graduation, a young woman follows her older sister Debbie to Salvation, a Los Angeles bar patronized by energy healers, aspiring actors, and all-around misfits. After the two share a bag of unidentified pills, the evening turns into a haze of sensual and risky interactions—nothing unusual for two sisters bound in an incredibly toxic relationship. Our unnamed narrator has always been under the spell of the alluring and rebellious Debbie and, despite her own hesitations, she has always said yes to nights like these. That is, until Debbie disappears.
Falling deeper into the life she cultivated with her sister, our narrator gets a job as an emergency room secretary where she steals pills to sell on the side. Cue Sasha, a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union who arrives at the hospital claiming to be a psychic tasked with acting as the narrator’s spiritual guide. The nature of this relationship evolves and blurs, a kaleidoscope of friendship, sex, mysticism, and ambiguous power dynamics.
Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi
St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys. Turn of the century, in a remote valley in Pennsylvania.
Here, under the watchful eyes of several priests, thirty boys work, learn, and worship. Peter Barlow, orphaned as a child by a gruesome murder, has made a new life here. As he approaches adulthood, he has friends, a future…a family.
Then, late one stormy night, a group of men arrive at their door, one of whom is badly wounded, occult symbols carved into his flesh. His death releases an ancient evil that spreads like sickness, infecting St. Vincent’s and the children within. Soon, boys begin acting differently, forming groups. Taking sides. Others turn up dead.
Burn the Negative by Josh Winning
Arriving in L.A. to visit the set of a new streaming horror series, journalist Laura Warren witnesses a man jumping from a bridge, landing right behind her car. Here we go, she thinks. It’s started. Because the series she’s reporting on is a remake of a ’90s horror flick. A cursed ’90s horror flick, which she starred in as a child—and has been running from her whole life.
In The Guesthouse, Laura played the little girl with the terrifying gift to tell people how the Needle Man would kill them. When eight of the cast and crew died in ways that eerily mirrored the movie’s on-screen deaths, the film became a cult classic—and ruined her life. Leaving it behind, Laura changed her name and her accent, dyed her hair, and moved across the Atlantic. But some scripts don’t want to stay buried.
Now, as the body count rises again, Laura finds herself on the run with her aspiring actress sister and a jaded psychic, hoping to end the curse once and for all—and to stay out of the Needle Man’s lethal reach.
Dead of Winter by Darcy Coates
Christa has always been anxious but, at this moment, life seems oh so hopeful with her hand in Kiernan’s as the tour bus climbs a narrow road up the side of the Rockies. Blue skies turn bitterly cold mid-afternoon as a blizzard pushes the group of 8 strangers out of their bus and to take shelter in an abandoned hunting cabin.
Deep in the night, their tour guide goes missing…only to be discovered the following morning, his severed head impaled on a large pine tree outside the cabin. Eight drops to seven and it becomes clear that someone in the group is killing for sport.
Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch
As character actress Edie O’Dare finishes the final year of her contract with FWM Studios, the clock is ticking for her to find a new gig after an undistinguished stint in the pictures. She’s long supplemented her income moonlighting for Hollywood’s reigning gossip columnist, providing her with the salacious details of every party and premiere. When an up-and-coming starlet hands her a letter alleging an assault from an A-list actor at a party with Edie and the rest of the industry’s biggest names in attendance, Edie helps get the story into print and sets off a chain of events that will alter the trajectories of everyone involved.
Now on a new side of the entertainment business, Edie’s second act career grants her more control on the page than she ever commanded in front of the camera. But Edie quickly learns that publishing the secrets of those former colleagues she considers friends has repercussions. And when she finds herself in the middle of the trial of the decade, Edie is forced to make an impossible choice with the potential to ruin more than one life.
Ebony Gate by Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle
Emiko Soong belongs to one of the eight premier magical families of the world. But Emiko never needed any magic. Because she is the Blade of the Soong Clan. Or was. Until she’s drenched in blood in the middle of a market in China, surrounded by bodies and the scent of blood and human waste as a lethal perfume.
The Butcher of Beijing now lives a quiet life in San Francisco, importing antiques. But when a shinigami, a god of death itself, calls in a family blood debt, Emiko must recover the Ebony Gate that holds back the hungry ghosts of the Yomi underworld. Or forfeit her soul as the anchor.
What’s a retired assassin to do but save the City by the Bay from an army of the dead?
Good Fortune by C.K. Chau
When Elizabeth Chen’s ever-hustling realtor mother finally sells the beloved if derelict community center down the block, the new owners don’t look like typical New York City buyers. Brendan Lee and Darcy Wong are good Chinese boys with Hong Kong money. Clean-cut and charismatic, they say they are committed to cleaning up the neighborhood. To Elizabeth, that only means one thing: Darcy is looking to give the center an uptown makeover.
Elizabeth is determined to fight for community over profit, even if it means confronting the arrogant, uptight man every chance she gets. But where clever, cynical Elizabeth sees lemons, her mother sees lemonade. Eager to get Elizabeth and her other four daughters ahead in the world (and out of their crammed family apartment), Mrs. Chen takes every opportunity to keep her investors close. Closer than Elizabeth likes.
The more time they spend together, the more conflicted Elizabeth feels…until a shocking betrayal forces her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, trust, and the kind of person Darcy Wong really is.
Hope by Andrew Ridker
The year is 2013 and the Greenspans are the envy of Brookline, Massachusetts, an idyllic (and idealistic) suburb west of Boston. Scott Greenspan is a successful physician with his own cardiology practice. His wife, Deb, is a pillar of the community who spends her free time helping resettle refugees. Their daughter, Maya, works at a distinguished New York publishing house and their son, Gideon, is preparing to follow in his father’s footsteps.They are an exceptional family from an exceptional place, living in exceptional times.
But when Scott is caught falsifying blood samples at work, he sets in motion a series of scandals that threatens to shatter his family. Deb leaves him for a female power broker; Maya rekindles a hazardous affair from her youth; and Gideon drops out of college to go on a dangerous journey that will put his principles to the test.
In a Flight of Starlings: The Wonders of Complex Systems by Giorgio Parisi
Celebrated physicist Giorgio Parisi guides us through his unorthodox yet exhilarating work, starting with investigating the principles of physics by observing the flight of flocks of birds. Studying the movements of these communities, he has realized, proves an illuminating way into understanding complex systems of all kinds—collections of everything from atoms and planets to other animals, such as ourselves.
Along the way, he reflects on the lessons he has taken from a life in pursuit of scientific truth: the importance of serendipity to the discovery of new ideas, the surprising kinship between physics and other disciplines, and the value of science to a thriving society. In so doing, he removes the practice of science from the confines of the laboratory and brings it into the real world.
Inside the Wolf by Amy Rowland
Rachel Ruskin never intended to return to her family’s tobacco farm in Shiloh, North Carolina. But when her academic career studying Southern folklore in New York City flames out, she has no choice. Back in her hometown in the wake of family loss, she is alone, haunted by memories, by ghosts, and by Shiloh’s buried history of racism and violence.
When another child is accidentally shot and killed, however, Rachel can no longer avoid confronting her own past wrongs; nor can she continue to hold herself apart from her community. How can the people of Shiloh reconcile their love of hunting and their belief in tradition with the loss of more children? How can she find a way back to those she grew up loving? Drawn into the rhythms of Shiloh and in search of a place to be-long, Rachel must question everything she grew up believing and at the same time find a way to accept those around her.
Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur
Ken and Abby Gardner lost their mother when they were small and they have been haunted by her absence ever since. Their father, Adam, a brilliant oceanographer, raised them mostly on his own in his remote home on Cape Cod, where the attachment between Ken and Abby deepened into something complicated—and as adults their relationship is strained. Now, years later, the siblings’ lives are still deeply entwined. Ken is a successful businessman with political ambitions and a picture-perfect family and Abby is a talented visual artist who depends on her brother’s goodwill, in part because he owns the studio where she lives and works.
As the novel opens, Adam is approaching his seventieth birthday, staring down his mortality and fading relevance. He has always managed his bipolar disorder with medication, but he’s determined to make one last scientific breakthrough and so he has secretly stopped taking his pills, which he knows will infuriate his children. Meanwhile, Abby and Ken are both harboring secrets of their own, and there is a new person on the periphery of the family—Steph, who doesn’t make her connection known. As Adam grows more attuned to the frequencies of the deep sea and less so to the people around him, Ken and Abby each plan the elaborate gifts they will present to their father on his birthday, jostling for primacy in this small family unit.
Promise by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
The people of Salt Point could indeed be fearful about the world beyond themselves; most of them would be born and die without ever having gone more than twenty or thirty miles from houses that were crammed with generations of their families. . . . But something was shifting at the end of summer 1957.
The Kindred sisters—Ezra and Cinthy—have grown up with an abundance of love. Love from their parents, who let them believe that the stories they tell on stars can come true. Love from their neighbors, the Junketts, the only other Black family in town, whose home is filled with spice-rubbed ribs and ground-shaking hugs. And love for their adopted hometown of Salt Point, a beautiful Maine village perched high up on coastal bluffs.
But as the girls hit adolescence, their white neighbors, including Ezra’s best friend, Ruby, start to see their maturing bodies and minds in a different way. And as the news from distant parts of the country fills with calls for freedom, equality, and justice for Black Americans, the white villagers of Salt Point begin to view the Kindreds and the Junketts as threats to their way of life. Amid escalating violence, prejudice, and fear, bold Ezra and watchful Cinthy must reach deep inside the wells of love they’ve built to commit great acts of heroism and grace on the path to survival.
Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter
A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley start-up, Cassie finds herself trapped in a corporate nightmare. Between the long hours, toxic bosses, and unethical projects, she also struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty and suffering. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of houseless people bathing in the bay. Start-up burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains, and men literally set themselves on fire in the streets.
Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, a miniature black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, growing or shrinking in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever closer as the world around her unravels.
The Carnivale of Curiosities by Amiee Gibbs
In Victorian London, where traveling sideshows are the very pinnacle of entertainment, there is no more coveted ticket than Ashe and Pretorius’ Carnivale of Curiosities. Each performance is a limited engagement, and London’s elite boldly dare the dangerous streets of Southwark to witness the Carnivale’s astounding assemblage of marvels. For a select few, however, the real show begins behind the curtain. Rumors abound that the show’s proprietor, Aurelius Ashe, is more than an average magician. It’s said that for the right price, he can make any wish come true. No one knows the truth of this claim better than Lucien the Lucifer, the Carnivale’s star attraction. Born with the ability to create fire, he’s dazzled spectators since he was a boy.
When Odilon Rose, one of the most notorious men in London, comes calling with a proposition regarding his young and beautiful charge, Charlotte, Ashe is tempted to refuse. After revealing, however, that Rose holds a secret that threatens the security of the troupe’s most vulnerable members, Ashe has no choice but to sign an insidious contract.
The stakes grow higher as Lucien finds himself drawn to Charlotte and her to him, an attraction that spurs a perilous course of events. Grave secrets, recovered horrors, and what it means to be family come to a head in this vividly imagined spectacle—with the lives of all those involved suspended in the balance.
The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi
Anisa Ellahi dreams of being a translator of “great works of literature,” but mostly spends her days subtitling Bollywood movies and living off her parents’ generous allowance. Adding to her growing sense of inadequacy, her mediocre white boyfriend, Adam, has successfully leveraged his savant-level aptitude for languages into an enviable career. But when Adam learns to speak Urdu practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.
Adam begrudgingly tells her about The Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees complete fluency in any language, in just ten days. This sounds, to Anisa, like a step toward the life she’s always wanted. Stripped of her belongings and all contact with the outside world, she enrolls and undergoes The Centre’s strange and rigorous processes. But as Anisa enmeshes herself further within the organization, seduced by all that it’s made possible, she soon realizes the hidden cost of its services.
The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva
When Tess is forced to rent out her late sister’s old room to pay the bills, the urge to rummage through her guests’ belongings overtakes her every thought. Teasing herself with forbidden glimpses into the lives of strangers is a momentary thrill, but it’s the closest she’s felt to anyone since the mysterious death of her sister, Rosie.
After her newest lodger, Arran, takes the room, Tess finds his salaciously detailed diary, which chronicles his infatuation with a beautiful stranger. The diary, which appears harmless at first, slowly takes a darker, more menacing tone with each new entry.
Is this a crush or an obsession?
The Majority by Elizabeth L. Silver
Half of the United States is waiting for Justice Sylvia Olin Bernstein to die. The other half is praying for her to hold on. At 83, “the contemptuous S.O.B.” doesn’t have much time left. What she has is a story, one she has wrested from the grip of history to tell herself—of how she rose to her historic position on the Supreme Court, and the barriers she broke along the way.
Told over fifty years, from losing her mother at a young age, to falling in love, to navigating an unplanned pregnancy and motherhood, to learning how to spar with a sexist mentor, Sylvia’s personal story reveals the intimate truth about who she was as she ascended to her modern throne: not just a brilliant mind, but a daughter, a best friend, a wife, mother, and advocate. While caught in a dramatic tug of war between career and family, truth and convenience, progress and patience, she will be given a chance to change the course of American history – and give voice, at last, to the majority.
The Militia House by John Milas
It’s 2010, and the recently promoted Corporal Loyette and his unit are finishing up their deployment at a new base in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Their duties here are straightforward―loading and unloading cargo into and out of helicopters―and their days are a mix of boredom and dread. The Brits they’re replacing delight in telling them the history of the old barracks just off base, a Soviet-era militia house they claim is haunted, and Loyette and his men don’t need much convincing to make a clandestine trip outside the wire to explore it.
It’s a short, middle-of-the-day adventure, but the men experience a mounting agitation after their visit to the militia house. In the days that follow they try to forget about the strange, unsettling sights and sounds from the house, but things are increasingly . . . not right. Loyette becomes determined to ignore his and his marines’ growing unease, convinced that it’s just the strain of war playing tricks on them. But something about the militia house will not let them go.
The Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey
India, 1922: Perveen Mistry is the only female lawyer in Bombay, a city where child mortality is high, birth control is unavailable and very few women have ever seen a doctor.
Perveen is attending a lavish fundraiser for a new women’s hospital specializing in maternal health issues when she witnesses an accident. The grandson of an influential Gujarati businessman catches fire—but a servant, his young ayah, Sunanda, rushes to save him, selflessly putting herself in harm’s way. Later, Perveen learns that Sunanda, who’s still ailing from her burns, has been arrested on trumped-up charges made by a man who doesn’t seem to exist.
Perveen cannot stand by while Sunanda languishes in jail with no hope of justice. She takes Sunanda as a client, even inviting her to live at the Mistry home in Bombay’s Dadar Parsi colony. But the joint family household is already full of tension. Perveen’s father worries about their law firm taking so much personal responsibility for a client, and her brother and sister-in-law are struggling to cope with their new baby. Perveen herself is going through personal turmoil as she navigates a taboo relationship with a handsome former civil service officer.
When the hospital’s chief donor dies suddenly, Miriam Penkar, a Jewish-Indian obstetrician, and Sunanda become suspects. Perveen’s original case spirals into a complex investigation taking her into the Gujarati strongholds of Kalbadevi and Ghatkopar, and up the coast to Juhu Beach, where a decadent nawab lives with his Australian trophy wife. Then a second fire erupts, and Perveen realizes how much is at stake. Has someone powerful framed Sunanda to cover up another crime? Will Perveen be able to prove Sunanda’s innocence without endangering her own family?
The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera
Fetter was raised to kill, honed as a knife to cut down his sainted father. This gave him plenty to talk about in therapy.
He walked among invisible powers: devils and anti-gods that mock the mortal form. He learned a lethal catechism, lost his shadow, and gained a habit for secrecy. After a blood-soaked childhood, Fetter escaped his rural hometown for the big city, and fell into a broader world where divine destinies are a dime a dozen.
Everything in Luriat is more than it seems. Group therapy is recruitment for a revolutionary cadre. Junk email hints at the arrival of a god. Every door is laden with potential, and once closed may never open again. The city is scattered with Bright Doors, looming portals through which a cold wind blows. In this unknowable metropolis, Fetter will discover what kind of man he is, and his discovery will rewrite the world.
The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella
Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the sudden deaths of his beloved twin sisters, Shagun flees his own guilt, his mother’s grief, and his father’s violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. But he doesn’t find true belonging until he encounters a traveling theater troupe performing the Hindu myths of his childhood.
Welcomed by the other storytellers, Shagun thrives, easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women, and living on the road, where his father can’t catch him. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for, too. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father’s ever-present threat to send him to a conversion center. As Shagun’s past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and to boldly claim his own happiness.
The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan
Morag MacIntyre is a Scottish lass from the remote islands that make up the northernmost reaches of the UK. She’s also a third-generation pilot, the heir apparent to an island plane service she runs with her grandfather. The islands—over 500 dots of windswept land that reach almost to Norway—rely on their one hardworking prop plane to deliver mail, packages, tourists, medicine, and the occasional sheep. As the keeper of this vital lifeline, Morag is used to landing on pale golden beaches and tiny grass airstrips, whether during great storms or on bright endless summer nights. Up in the blue sky, Morag feels at one with the elements.
Down on the ground is a different matter, though. Her grandfather is considering and Morag wonders if she truly wants to spend the rest of her life in the islands. Her boyfriend Hayden, from flight school, wants Morag to move to Dubai with him, where they’ll fly A380s and say goodbye to Scotland’s dark winters.
Morag is on the verge of making a huge life change when an unusually bumpy landing during a storm finds her marooned on Inchborn island. Inchborn is gloriously off-grid, home only to an ancient ruined abbey, a bird-watching station, and a population of one: Gregor, a visiting ornithologist from Glasgow who might have just the right perspective to help Morag pilot her course.
The Woods Are Waiting by Katherine Greene
Cheyenne Ashby knows the dark and disturbing history of her hometown of Blue Cliff, Virginia, all too well. It’s why she left. Growing up deep within the woods with her eccentric mother, Constance, she was raised on the unusual customs and generational superstitions linked to the local legend of an evil entity that haunts the forest.
Five years ago, the bodies of three children were found in the woods. It was a man—not a mythical beast—named Jasper Clinton who was convicted of these heinous crimes. For five years the town breathed just a bit easier with a real-life monster behind bars.
But when another child goes missing, Cheyenne and Natalie are determined to discover the truth and uncover the town’s dangerous secrets rooted in its terrifying past.
Thicker Than Water by Megan Collins
Julia and Sienna Larkin are sisters-in-law, connected by Julia’s husband and Sienna’s brother, Jason. More than that, the two are devoted best friends and business partners, believing that theirs is a uniquely unbreakable bond. To Sienna, her protective brother can do no wrong, and although Julia knows he’s not perfect, they’ve built a comfortable life and family together. Recently, Jason has been putting in long hours to secure a promotion at work, so when his boss is found brutally murdered—his lips sewn shut—the Larkins are shocked and unsettled, especially as local gossip swirls.
A few days later, Julia and Sienna’s lives are upended when Jason gets into a car accident and is placed in a medically induced coma. Worse, the police arrive with news that he’s the prime suspect in the murder investigation. With Jason unable to respond—and with Julia and Sienna working to clear his name—the two women find their friendship threatened for the first time: Sienna staunchly maintains her brother’s innocence, but as their investigation uncovers a complicated web of secrets, Julia is less sure she’s willing to defend her husband.