Book List, New Releases, Staff Picks

July New Releases

It’s been a busy July here at the store! We’ve launched our YouTube channel and virtual events (click on the TBC Links to find our YouTube channel) and we’ve done a bit of reorganizing of the store as well for summer. And in between, we managed to find some time to read – here are our favorite new releases from this month!

Austen Years by Rachel Cohen

After telling our wonderful publisher sales rep, Carin, how terrible my January had been, she gave me Austen Years and said I must read. She was absolutely right. Rachel helped me, a fellow Austenite, understand my feelings of grief, joy, and sense of upheaval by reminding me to go back and read Jane’s words. I read the only one of Austen novels Rachel didn’t in the 7 years she spent rereading, Northanger Abbey, my personal favorite, and it was a great joint read.

In the turbulent period around the birth of her first child and the death of her father, Rachel Cohen turned to Jane Austen to make sense of her new reality. For Cohen, simultaneously grief-stricken and buoyed by the birth of her daughter, reading Austen became her refuge and her ballast. She was able to reckon with difficult questions about mourning, memorializing, living in a household, paying attention to the world, reading, writing, and imagining through Austen’s novels.
Austen Years is a deeply felt and sensitive examination of a writer’s relationship to reading, and to her own family, winding together memoir, criticism, and biographical and historical material about Austen herself. And like the sequence of Austen’s novels, the scope of Austen Years widens successively, with each chapter following one of Austen’s novels. We begin with Cohen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she raises her small children and contemplates her father’s last letter, a moment paired with the grief of Sense and Sensibility and the social bonds of Pride and Prejudice. Later, moving with her family to Chicago, Cohen grapples with her growing children, teaching, and her father’s legacy, all refracted through the denser, more complex Mansfield Park and Emma.
With unusual depth and fresh insight into Austen’s life and literature, and guided by Austen’s mournful and hopeful final novel, Persuasion, Rachel Cohen’s Austen Years is a rare memoir of mourning and transcendence, a love letter to a literary master, and a powerful consideration of the odd process that merges our interior experiences with the world at large.

Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

The title alone really got me to pick up this book, because truly Paris is always a good idea! I’ve been yearning to travel the world in the last year, and this book has really let me experience that from my own home. We follow Chelsea as she strives to reconnect the with happiness that’s she’s been missing since her mother passed away seven years prior. She goes to find her happiness by going to all the places that she had been in her gap year following her college graduation, when she realizes that this was the last time she was truly happy. She reconnects with old loves and finds that their happiness makes her happy, and she starts to slowly love the little things in life again. Of course, there has to be some sort of romance, and this may just appear in the form of an annoyingly perfect coworker who helps her in more ways than one. The side characters and the hilarious encounters Chelsea goes through really make the book both funny and heartwarming at the same time. I really enjoyed this book, it was such a breath of fresh air to read!

A thirty-year-old woman retraces her gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy to find love—and herself—in this hilarious and heartfelt novel.
It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.
When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps—to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy—Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again.
From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

It seems like the toilet paper trope has become trite in post apocalypse fiction. I am sure that you know the type, the world is ending and of course you (the reader) think that the most important resource is water BUT the clever clever author has to bring up toilet paper. Because apparently Charmin is worth more than gold. That has always struck me as strange though, clearly the most important resource is knowledge! If nothing else then at least you’ll know how to make toilet paper. This book does a good job of avoiding the toilet paper tropes AND including the pursuit for knowledge! I really enjoyed this book!

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.
Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.
Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.
They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…
Or they could do the impossible: team up.
This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

I was on a long flight and I wanted to take a nap. I had this book with me and though, eh, I’ll read a story and then drift off. Only I couldn’t stop after the first story, or the second or third. I was forced to abandon my much-needed snooze because Van Den Berg’s writing gripped me, unsettled me, that much. The final story, the titular one, is a striking example of the benign discomfort of the uncanny. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work, as effective short story writers aren’t so easy to come by.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg’s first story collection since her prizewinning book The Isle of Youth, draws readers into a world of wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and the mind. Both timeless and urgent, these eleven stories confront misogyny, violence, and the impossible economics of America with van den Berg’s trademark spiky humor and surreal eye. Moving from the peculiarities of Florida to liminal spaces of travel in Mexico City, Sicily, and Iceland, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is uncannily attuned to our current moment, and to the fears we reveal to no one but ourselves.
In “Lizards,” a man mutes his wife’s anxieties by giving her a LaCroix-like seltzer laced with sedatives. In the title story, a woman poses as her more successful sister during a botched Italian holiday, a choice that brings about strange and destructive consequences, while in “Karolina,” a woman discovers her prickly ex-sister-in-law in the aftermath of an earthquake and is forced to face the truth about her violent brother.
I Hold a Wolf by the Ears presents a collection of women on the verge, trying to grasp what’s left of life: grieving, divorced, and hyperaware, searching, vulnerable, and unhinged, they exist in a world that deviates from our own only when you look too closely. With remarkable control and transcendent talent, van den Berg dissolves, in the words of the narrator of “Slumberland,” “that border between magic and annihilation,” and further establishes herself as a defining fiction writer of our time.

Natural History by Carlos Fonseca

An extremely intricate well-written story that shows connections of things in ways I’ve never seen before, Natural History is absolutely mesmerizing. Drawing you in to the curator’s complex story, this book is hard to put down as it weaves words together, so expertly moving you from one sentence to the next. A highly intriguing read!

Just before the dawn of the new millennium, a curator at a New Jersey museum of natural history receives an unusual invitation from a celebrated fashion designer. She shares the curator’s fascination with the hidden forms of the animal kingdom—with camouflage and subterfuge—and she proposes that they collaborate on an exhibition, the form of which itself remains largely obscure, even as they enter into a strange relationship marked by evasion and elision.
Seven years later, after the death of the designer, the curator recovers the archive of their never-completed project. During a long night of insomnia, he finds within the archive a series of clues to the true story of the designer’s family, a mind-bending puzzle that winds from Haifa, Israel, to bohemian 1970s New York to the Latin American jungle. On the way, he discovers a cast of characters whose own fixations interrogate the unstable frontiers between art, science, politics, and religion: an aging photographer, living nearly alone in an abandoned mining town where subterranean fires rage without end, who creates models of ruined cities; a former model turned conceptual artist—and a defendant in a trial over the very nature and purpose of art; a young indigenous boy who has received a vision of the end of the world. Reality is a curtain, as the curator realizes, and to draw it back is to reveal the theater of obsession.
Natural History is the portrait of a world trapped between faith and irony, between tragedy and farce. A defiantly contemporary and impressively ambitious novel in the tradition of Italo Calvino and Ricardo Piglia, it confirms Carlos Fonseca as one of the most daring writers of his generation.

Tomorrow we’ll be featuring the last of our Summer Kids Indie Next lists, the picture book and early reader list!

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