Staff Picks: The Best of 2020
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY BESTSELLER
NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
THE WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
#1 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick - October 2020
Recommended by Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, NPR, Slate, and Oprah Magazine
A “Best Of” Book From: CNN *Amazon Editors * Goodreads * Bustle * PopSugar * BuzzFeed * Barnes & Noble * Kirkus Reviews * Lambda Literary * Nerdette * The Nerd Daily * Polygon * Library Reads * io9 * Smart Bitches Trashy Books * LiteraryHub * Medium * BookBub * The Mary Sue * Chicago Tribune * NY Daily News * SyFy Wire * Powells.com * Bookish * Book Riot *
In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s genre-defying tour de force.
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me
"When I stop crying, I'm calling my mother immediately and making her read it." --Jodi Picoult
"Comic lines as good as in any movie, and pathos as deep as in any novel" --Mike Birbiglia
Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor, saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force--irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at ninety, Bobby died. But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life.
Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them. There's Bobby's mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880s to escape the pogroms, and Bess's mother, a 1970s rebel who always fought against convention. Then there's Bess, who grew up in New York and entered the rough-and-tumble world of L.A. television. Her grandma Bobby was with her all the way--she was the light of Bess's childhood and her fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love, even if sometimes of the toughest kind.
In Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Bobby reminds Bess of the experiences they shared, and she delivers--in phone calls, texts, and unforgettable heart-to-hearts brought vividly to the page--her signature wisdom:
If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other.
Never. Buy. Fake. Anything.
I swear on your life every word of this is true.
With humor and poignancy, Bess Kalb gives us proof of the special bond that can skip a generation and endure beyond death. This book is a feat of extraordinary ventriloquism and imagination by a remarkably talented writer.
The Book of Lost Names
Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
A breathtaking, labyrinthine epic, Troubled Blood is the fifth Strike and Robin novel and the most gripping and satisfying yet.
Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough - who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.
Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.
As Strike and Robin investigate Margot's disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .
The Way to Rio Luna
For fans of The Land of Stories comes an adventure that reveals the secret warnings hidden inside all classic tales -- beware fairyland at all costs.
Eleven-year-old Danny Monteverde believes in magic. He knows that pixie dust is real, that wardrobes act as portals, and that rabbit holes lead to Wonderland. Most of all, he believes that his older sister, Pili, is waiting for him somewhere in Rio Luna, the enchanted land in their favorite book of fairy tales.
Danny doesn't care what the adults say. He knows that Pili isn't another teen runaway. When the siblings were placed in separate foster homes, she promised that she'd come back for him, and they'd build a new life together in Rio Luna.
Yet as the years pass, Danny's faith begins to dim. But just when he thinks it might be time to put foolish fairy tales behind him, he finds a mysterious book in the library. It's a collection of stories that contain hints about how to reach another world. A map to Rio Luna . . . and to Pili.
As his adventure takes him from New York to Ecuador to Brazil, Danny learns that meeting your favorite characters isn't always a dream come true. But nothing will stop him from finding his sister . . . even if it means standing up to the greatest threat the magical realm has ever known.
In Five Years
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Good Morning America, FabFitFun, and Marie Claire Book Club Pick
“In Five Years is as clever as it is moving, the rare read-in-one-sitting novel you won’t forget.” —Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists
Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.
She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.
But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.
One by One
“The Agatha Christie of our generation.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Diabolically clever.” —Riley Sager, author of Final Girls
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.
Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.
When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.
As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.
The Things We Cannot Say
Now a New York Times bestseller!
From the author of Truths I Never Told You and Before I Let You Go, Kelly Rimmer's powerful WWII novel follows a woman's urgent search for answers to a family mystery that uncovers truths about herself that she never expected.
"Kelly Rimmer has outdone herself. I thought that Before I Let You Go was one of the best novels I had ever read...If you only have time to read one book this year The Things We Cannot Say should be that book. Keep tissues handy."--Fresh Fiction
"Fans of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls will adore The Things We Cannot Say." --Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It's a decision that will alter her destiny...and it's a lie that will remain buried until the next century.
Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina's tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate.
Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents' farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced...and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
Before She Was Helen
"As Before She Was Helen opens, readers are drawn into what appears to be a light, retirement-community caper. But author Caroline B. Cooney quickly flips expectations upside-down in this deceptively dark mystery. Between old crimes and fresh murders, septuagenarian protagonist Clemmie faces an unspeakable fear that will keep readers hooked in this twisty whodunit."-Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author
From the critically acclaimed, international bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney comes a domestic thriller perfect for fans of mystery books by Laura Lippman and Alice Feeney.
Her life didn't turn out the way she expected--so she made herself a new one
When Clemmie goes next door to check on her difficult and unlikeable neighbor Dom, he isn't there. But something else is. Something stunning, beautiful and inexplicable. Clemmie photographs the wondrous object on her cell phone and makes the irrevocable error of forwarding it. As the picture swirls over the internet, Clemmie tries desperately to keep a grip on her own personal network of secrets. Can fifty years of careful hiding under names not her own be ruined by one careless picture?
And although what Clemmie finds is a work of art, what the police find is a body. . . and she was the last person at the crime scene, where she left her fingerprints. Suddenly thrown into the heart of a twisted investigation, Clemmie finds herself the uncomfortable subject of intense scrutiny. And the bland, quiet life Clemmie has built for herself in her sleepy South Carolina retirement community comes crashing down as her dark past surges into the present.
From international bestselling author of The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline B. Cooney comes Before She Was Helen, an absorbing mystery that brings decades-old secrets to life and explores what happens when the lie you've been living falls apart and you're forced to confront the truth.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "It's Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird."--The Guardian
IN DEVELOPMENT AS A HULU ORIGINAL LIMITED SERIES PRODUCED BY KELLY RIPA AND MARK CONSUELOS
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes "a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror" (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find--her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She's a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
"It's as if a supernatural power compels us to turn the pages of the gripping Mexican Gothic."--The Washington Post
"Mexican Gothic is the perfect summer horror read, and marks Moreno-Garcia with her hypnotic and engaging prose as one of the genre's most exciting talents."--Nerdist
"A period thriller as rich in suspense as it is in lush '50s atmosphere."--Entertainment Weekly
On New Year's Day 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to, literally, pluck a day, month, and year from a hat. That day--chosen completely at random--turned out to be Sunday, December 28, 1986, by any conventional measure a most ordinary day. Weingarten spent the next six years proving that there is no such thing.
That Sunday between Christmas and New Year's turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.
One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as "ordinary" when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human.
The story of the Lakers dynasty from 1996 through 2004, when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal combined--and collided--to help bring the Lakers three straight championships and restore the franchise as a powerhouse
In the history of modern sport, there have never been two high-level teammates who loathed each other the way Shaquille O'Neal loathed Kobe Bryant, and Kobe Bryant loathed Shaquille O'Neal. From public sniping and sparring, to physical altercations and the repeated threats of trade, it was warfare. And yet, despite eight years of infighting and hostility, by turns mediated and encouraged by coach Phil Jackson, the Shaq-Kobe duo resulted in one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Together, the two led the Lakers to three straight championships and returned glory and excitement to Los Angeles.
In the tradition of Jeff Pearlman's bestsellers Showtime, Boys Will Be Boys, and The Bad Guys Won, Three-Ring Circus is a rollicking deep dive into one of sports' most fraught yet successful pairings.
The Midnight Library
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA Book Club Pick!
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?"
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
The outlandish, hilarious, terrifying, and almost impossible-to-believe story of the legendary, dangerous amusement park where millions were entertained and almost as many bruises were sustained, told through the eyes of the founder's son
Often called "Accident Park," "Class Action Park," or "Traction Park," Action Park was an American icon. Entertaining more than a million people a year in the 1980s, the New Jersey-based amusement playland placed no limits on danger or fun, a monument to the anything-goes spirit of the era that left guests in control of their own adventures--sometimes with tragic results. Though it closed its doors in 1996 after nearly twenty years, it has remained a subject of constant fascination ever since, an establishment completely anathema to our modern culture of rules and safety. Action Park is the first-ever unvarnished look at the history of this DIY Disneyland, as seen through the eyes of Andy Mulvihill, the son of the park's idiosyncratic founder, Gene Mulvihill. From his early days testing precarious rides to working his way up to chief lifeguard of the infamous Wave Pool to later helping run the whole park, Andy's story is equal parts hilarious and moving, chronicling the life and death of a uniquely American attraction, a wet and wild 1980s adolescence, and a son's struggle to understand his father's quixotic quest to become the Walt Disney of New Jersey. Packing in all of the excitement of a day at Action Park, this is destined to be one of the most unforgettable memoirs of the year.
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER * “Riveting.” —The New York Times * “Propulsive.” —Time * “Reads like a tense thriller.” —The Washington Post * “The book is deservedly the nonfiction blockbuster of the season.” —The Wall Street Journal
From Chris Wallace, the veteran journalist and anchor of Fox News Sunday, comes an electrifying behind-the-scenes account of the 116 days leading up to the American attack on Hiroshima.
April 12, 1945: After years of bloody conflict in Europe and the Pacific, America is stunned by news of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. In an instant, Vice President Harry Truman, who has been kept out of war planning and knows nothing of the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first atomic bomb, must assume command of a nation at war on multiple continents—and confront one of the most consequential decisions in history. Countdown 1945 tells the gripping true story of the turbulent days, weeks, and months to follow, leading up to August 6, 1945, when Truman gives the order to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.
In Countdown 1945, Chris Wallace, the veteran journalist and anchor of Fox News Sunday, takes readers inside the minds of the iconic and elusive figures who join the quest for the bomb, each for different reasons: the legendary Albert Einstein, who eventually calls his vocal support for the atomic bomb “the one great mistake in my life”; lead researcher J. Robert “Oppie” Oppenheimer and the Soviet spies who secretly infiltrate his team; the fiercely competitive pilots of the plane selected to drop the bomb; and many more.
Perhaps most of all, Countdown 1945 is the story of an untested new president confronting a decision that he knows will change the world forever. Truman’s journey during these 116 days is a story of high drama: from the shock of learning of the bomb’s existence, to the conflicting advice he receives from generals like Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Marshall, to wrestling with the devastating carnage that will result if he gives the order to use America’s first weapon of mass destruction.
But Countdown 1945 is more than a book about the atomic bomb. It’s also an unforgettable account of the lives of ordinary American and Japanese civilians in wartime—from “Calutron Girls” like Ruth Sisson in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to ten-year-old Hiroshima resident Hideko Tamura, who survives the blast at ground zero but loses her mother and later immigrates to the United States, where she lives to this day—as well as American soldiers fighting in the Pacific, waiting in fear for the order to launch a possible invasion of Japan.
Told with vigor, intelligence, and humanity, Countdown 1945 is the definitive account of one of the most significant moments in history.