Starred Review

Forbidden Notebook

by Alba de Céspedes, trans. by Ann Goldstein

Times have changed for women since the 1950s, as the protagonist of Alba de Céspedes's excellent Forbidden Notebook, first published in 1952, confides to the titular diary. That title, rendered from the Italian by translator Ann Goldstein, offers a clever double meaning that encapsulates 43-year-old Valeria Cossati's predicament: she is forbidden from pursuing a more rewarding life and confides those frustrations only to a secret notebook. In November 1950, she buys the notebook--"black, shiny, thick,

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Queenie: Godmother of Harlem

by Aurélie Lévy , Elizabeth Colomba, illus. by Elizabeth Colomba

Duke Ellington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano: perhaps because they were men, their legacies have long survived their deaths. Too often missing from this notable New York roster is Stephanie St. Clair, a Harlem legend who ran the numbers racket in the 1930s. Aurélie Lévy and Elizabeth Colomba reclaim her history in Queenie, an outstanding graphic collaboration. In 1933 when Prohibition finally ended, St. Clair emerged from prison (not her first stint, nor her last) and returned

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The Davenports

by Krystal Marquis

Krystal Marquis's debut, The Davenports, is the captivating story of four young Black women navigating love and society in early 20th-century Chicago.

The formerly enslaved William Davenport built a successful and worldwide business. Now, in 1910, William is the patriarch of a family that can afford a cushioned life in Chicago's Freeport Manor. William's 19-year-old middle daughter, Olivia, has met the perfect suitor and is ready to fulfill her duties as a loving wife and host of dinner parties. Until, that

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The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis

by Jared Yates Sexton

To observers reassured about the health of American democracy after the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, Jared Yates Sexton's blunt and provocative The Midnight Kingdom may come as an unwelcome splash of cold water. In this survey of the history of Western civilization that begins in first-century Rome and spans nearly 2,000 years, Sexton, a political analyst and podcaster, explores "the means by which power shields and hides itself." He argues that it does so chiefly through deceit and paranoia-inducing

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The Carrefour Curse

by Dianne K. Salerni

The Carrefour Curse, a darkly comic supernatural mystery by Dianne K. Salerni (Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts), begins with "a quiet but disgusting bit of magic."

Garnet Carrefour's mother, Emerald, has been estranged from her family since before Garnet was born. The now 12-year-old knows she and her mother have magic in their veins--they hear and speak to stones to coax out the magic within. When Garnet begins vomiting frogs, though, mother and daughter must return to the family home, Crossroad

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You Will Never Be Found

by Tove Alsterdal, trans. by Alice Menzies

At one point in Swedish crime novelist Tove Alsterdal's You Will Never Be Found, a character observes that a cabin contains "bookshelves full of cheap American thrillers." This may prompt regular readers of Nordic noir to wonder: Is there even such a thing as "cheap Scandinavian thrillers"? Adeptly written and plotted, with in-depth characterizations and rich topography, You Will Never Be Found is yet another fine contribution to the redoubtable genre.

The novel, translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies,

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Spice Road

by Maiya Ibrahim

Spellbinding magic, lush description and whirlwind action define Maiya Ibrahim's YA debut, Spice Road.

Seventeen-year-old Imani, Qalia's youngest Shield, is tasked with defending her country's walls from a "never-ending onslaught of monsters," which include djinn, ghouls and sand serpents. Shields awaken their magical abilities by imbibing misra (the Spice gifted by the Great Spirit) in a daily tea ceremony. But misra and the city of Qalia itself are meant to be kept secret from the outside world. When Imani

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Promise Boys

by Nick Brooks

Three students with public grudges and no alibis become prime suspects when the principal of their all-boys charter school turns up dead in the gripping and propulsive social critique Promise Boys by Nick Brooks.

Urban Promise Prep seems perfect on paper, but Principal Moore runs the regimented Washington, D.C., charter school with an iron fist and increasingly erratic behavior. After Moore is shot dead at his desk, the police focus on three students serving detentions that afternoon: hot-tempered lyricist

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Learn more about Shelf Awareness.

Shelf Discovery

Your Hearts, Your Scars

by Adina Talve-Goodman, Sarika Talve-Goodman and Hannah Tinti, editors

A posthumous collection gathers seven poignant autobiographical essays about living joyfully and looking for love in spite of chronic illness.

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Really Good, Actually

by Monica Heisey

A young divorcée stumbles through modern dating, adult friendship, mental health issues and self-discovery in this darkly funny novel about spinning out before starting over.

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The Piano Tuner

by Chiang-Sheng Kuo, trans. by Howard Goldblatt, Sylvia Li-Chun Lin

Chiang-Sheng Kuo's enigmatic Taiwanese import deftly examines the relationship between a piano tuner, a dead violinist and her businessman husband.

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The Chinese Groove

by Kathryn Ma

In this heartening novel of youthful optimism, an ambitious Chinese immigrant seeks to build a life for himself among distant relatives in the city of San Francisco.

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Reckoning

by V (formerly Eve Ensler)

V (formerly Eve Ensler) movingly demonstrates that resolution cannot be made without healing, healing without forgiveness, forgiveness without apology, and apology without reckoning.

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Please Report Your Bug Here

by Josh Riedel

Josh Riedel's inventive debut launches readers into a world of tech startups and media apps while also tackling art and reality and the possibility of portals to alternative worlds.

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Ms. Demeanor

by Elinor Lipman

A witty romantic comedy replete with smart, sexy characters brings together protagonists who have been sentenced to home confinement in their New York high-rise co-op for specious "crimes."

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Hell Bent

by Leigh Bardugo

The second novel set at the dark-fantasy version of Yale University from Grishaverse creator Leigh Bardugo finds Alex Stern on a rescue mission to hell.

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Dear Henry, Love Edith

by Becca Kinzer

Dear Henry, Love Edith is a whimsical, mistaken-identity rom-com about two down-on-their-luck 30-somethings who don't realize they are actually living under the same roof.

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The Call of the Tribe

by Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. by John King

Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa celebrates the work of seven intellectuals who shaped his belief in political and economic liberalism.

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Tor Books: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

Media Heat

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Fresh Air: Jere Van Dyk, author of Without Borders: The Haqqani Network and the Road to Kabul (Academica Press, $38, 9781680538656).

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Fresh Air: Siddharth Kara, author of Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250284303).

The View: Eboni K. Williams, author of Bet on Black: The Good News about Being Black in America Today (Legacy Lit, $29, 9780306828645).

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

CBS Mornings: Marcus Stroman, author of The Grip (S&S/Aladdin, $17.99, 9781665916141).

Good Morning America: Jay Shetty, author of 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781982183066).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Noah Galuten and Iliza Shlesinger, author of The Don't Panic Pantry Cookbook: Mostly Vegetarian Comfort Food That Happens to Be Pretty Good for You (Knopf, $35, 9780593319833).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Pamela Anderson, author of Love, Pamela (Dey Street, $30, 9780063226562).

Monday, January 30, 2023

CBS Mornings: Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, authors of How to Be a (Young) Antiracist (Kokila, $19.99, 9780593461600).

Good Morning America: Jinger Duggar Vuolo, author of Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9781400335817).

Fresh Air: Henry Marsh, author of And Finally: Matters of Life and Death (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250286086).

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Good Morning America: Molly Maloof, author of The Spark Factor: The Secret to Supercharging Energy, Becoming Resilient, and Feeling Better Than Ever (Harper Wave, $32, 9780063207202).

The View: Linsey Davis, author of The Smallest Spot of a Dot: The Little Ways We're Different, The Big Ways We're the Same (Zonderkidz, $18.99, 9780310748809).
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