Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Contemporary, Fiction, Historical, History, New & Upcoming, Staff Picks, Thrillers

8 Standout Books from January & February

Looking for a fresh voice to brighten up your winter reading list? Check out these 8 titles for stories of addiction, greed, magic, family, and an amazing debut from Nigeria.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni, at 14 years old, wants to learn. An education, her mother tells her, is her path to a “louding voice” – determining for herself who she will be in life. But she must first survive a village that believes that girls are good only for marriage, a father determined to marry her off for money, a brutal husband, and a dangerous city. Daré’s debut novel showcases the dangers many rural Nigerians girls face when they look for a better life, but also their courage and tenacity.

Weather by Jenny Offill

Lizzie is worried. About her brother, recovering from addiction, and about her husband, and about her son, and about her income. For some extra money, she starts answering emails for Sylvia, an environmental futurist with a podcast, answering listener emails about saving bees, composting toilets, and moths from Madagascar. Written in a reflective style, Offill asks how ordinary people can balance daily life, civic action, despair, and hope.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

When a young black babysitter is accused of kidnapping her wealthy white employer’s daughter in the supermarket, it touches off a firestorm in both women’s lives. Her employer, influencer Alix Chamberlain wants to right the wrong that was done. The babysitter, Emira, would rather put the humiliating experience behind her – she’s more worried about losing her health insurance when she turns 26. Both characters – each complicated in their own way – grapple with race, class, and relationships. Reid doesn’t shy away from the issues she brings to the table, but she doesn’t hammer at them either, instead allowing them to unfold through her characters.

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

What would you do to get what you’re owed? Leslie would meet a stranger and hire her to impersonate her dead sister Robin – her half of her father’s inheritance depends on it. In exchange, the stranger – Mary – will receive her sister’s half of the money. But as the week goes on, each woman realizes the other is hiding secrets and meanwhile, Robin’s own past threatens to destroy them both. Tanen Jones’ debut will hook fans of Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway and other psychological thrillers.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

From the author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake comes a new biography of Winston Churchill and his first year in office, when the Battle of Britain was at its height. Instead of focusing solely on Churchill, Larson casts a wider net, making use of the letters and diaries of his wife, children, and close confidants. Larson also draws on declassified intelligence, some of which has only recently become available, to round out his intimate portrait of the British Bulldog.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Anna Wiener moved to Silicon Valley from New York in her mid-twenties to join a data startup, just as the tech industry was changing from a place of scrappy, can-do, change-the-world companies to the big data tech behemoths that dominate the industry today. Her first person look at the ambition, greed, and disregard for ethics of that time serves as a witty and cautionary tale. Recommended for anyone who’s ever been creeped out by eerily accurate Facebook ads.

Remembrance by Rita Woods

Rita Woods’ debut novel, a multigenerational saga laced with magical realism, spans centuries, from the late 1700s Haiti to modern Ohio. Remembrance is a hidden pocket of hope along the Underground Railroad, a pocket of space and time that provides a haven from slave catchers. The story hops between times and perspectives: Abigail has carved out Remembrance after Haiti’s slave rebellions; Margot stumbles upon it when she and her sister flee North; Gaelle may be the one who can save it. For fans of Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings; Black Leopard, Red Wolf) and Octavia Butler (Kindred; Parable of the Sower).

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Mickey works a beat in a rough Philadelphia neighborhood as a police officer. The “grown up” sister, she now has a stable job and a son. Her sister, Kacey, walks the same neighborhood streets, but as a prostitute, deep in the grip of addiction. When her sister goes missing at the same time that a string of women turn up murdered, Mickey is propelled into a desperate search for both her sister and the killer, desperately hoping that Kacey won’t be the next victim. A harrowing combination of family drama and detective novel with complex characters and a twisting, turning mystery. For listeners, Allyson Ryan’s audiobook version offers a clear, intense narration.