Hello and welcome! My name is Gregg. I’ll take a brief look at some of the well-reviewed titles that are published this month that we’ve either read or have heard great things about. We love bestsellers as much as you do, but those already have long holds lists. We love spotlighting books and authors that you might not be familiar with, or are brand new and deserve a bit of attention. Feel free to tell us about the under-the-radar titles that you’re excited about!
OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall is a breath of fresh air in the psychological fiction genre. Most of these novels try to compete with each other to see who can pile up the most shocking reveal or the most unexpected twist. Hall has no interest in trying to outfox you - instead, she gets us deeply in the mind of a man who redefines the word “obsession.” Michael Hayes, a successful young London broker, loves to play twisted games with his girlfriend - until she breaks up and gets engaged with someone else. But to Michael’s twisted mind, they’re still together, and she is ‘testing’ him to see how far their game will go. Chilling, powerful, and with a lot to say about how society views women, Hall’s thriller laps the field by going darker and pulls absolutely no punches.
Be sure not to miss Tessa Fontaine’s astounding memoir, THE ELECTRIC WOMAN. A deeply personal account of a young woman who’s life was put on hold, caring for her mother who suffers a series of life-shattering strokes. But then, Fontaine is offered a chance to do what millions of children have wondered at some point in their lives - what would it be like to run away and join the circus? She joins the World of Wonders, one of the last of the old-school travelling carnivals and freak shows, and works her way up from selling tickets and enticing passersby to see the show to snake handling, fire eating, and finally as an escape artist. Fontaine writes with a strong sense of insight and wonder - this is a memoir about someone who faces their fears head-on and grows in unexpected ways because of it.
There might have been a time in your life where you’ve been a part of a larger group. It might have been a group of friends, siblings, or even coworkers. A group dynamic is a very real thing, and sometimes people together can absolutely overcome the sum of their parts. Aja Gabel excellently captures this feel in THE ENSEMBLE, a lush novel about four classical musicians who play in a quartet. They practice endless hours together, scraping by as young musicians playing weddings and receptions, hoping they can somehow make it big. They fall in love, break up, threaten to leave, then get back together again as they pursue their dreams. But no matter what, the pull of the group is always there, offering the possibility of connecting each individual talent into a larger whole. An excellent book club pick, Gabel’s characters are well-drawn and complex, and this novel that revolves around classical music is accessible to a broad audience, even if those piano lessons you took as a kid never quite stuck.
We’ll wrap up this month’s new releases with a look at THE LAST COWBOYS: A PIONEER FAMILY IN THE NEW WEST by New York Times sportswriter John Branch. This is an absorbing account of an American way of life that is trying to adapt and survive in a world that is looking in other directions. For generations, the Wright family have lived as cattle ranchers in southern Utah. Faced with the challenges of drought, land disputes, creeping urbanization, and the day-to-day stresses of ranching, the Wrights turn to the rodeo circuit to make money. Laced with heartache and triumph, Branch’s deep look at the fading - or to put it more accurately, the changing - American West is essential reading and might well become a classic. (Utah is only a few states away from Kansas, after all…)