Hotel of Secrets by Diana BillerVienna, 1878: In the midst of preparations for the Fasching season that will restore her family's hotel to its former glory, Maria Wallner meets American secret service agent Eli Whittaker, who's investigating a leak of classified information.
Why you might like it: This novel of love and espionage transports readers to the sparkling ballrooms of 19th-century Vienna through the skillful deployment of well-researched historical details and lush period atmosphere.
Such Pretty Flowers by K.L. Cerra
What it is: an intricately plotted and atmospheric mix of psychological suspense and Southern Gothic.
Starring: Holly, a young librarian, grieving and guilt-stricken after failing to prevent her brother Dane's suicide; Dane's mysterious and beguiling girlfriend Maura, who invites Holly to temporarily stay in her luxurious Savannah townhouse.
For fans of: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt; Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas.
Time's Undoing by Cheryl A. Head
What happens: Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, Meghan McKenzie, a young Black journalist with the Detroit Free Press, digs into the unsolved murder of her great-grandfather in 1929 Birmingham, Alabama.
Read it for: the moving dual timeline narratives; the richly detailed combination of mystery, family history, and timely social justice issues.
Read this next: Wanda M. Morris' Anywhere You Run, Tracy Clark's Chicago mysteries, or Tamron Hall's As the Wicked Watch.
Gigi, Listening by Chantel GuertinWhat happens: American bookshop owner Gigi Rutherford embarks on a guided tour of England's "Spires, Shires, and Shores" led by Zane Wilkenson, her favorite audiobook narrator. But Zane's unexpected absence means that Gigi must instead deal with grumpy bus driver Taj.
Read it for: a slow-burning, closed-door romance; a love triangle; a charming setting; and the antics of Gigi's zany fellow travelers.
For fans of: Julia Whelan's Thank You for Listening.
Black Wolf by Kathleen KentWhat it is: the action-packed, richly detailed story of an undercover CIA agent sent behind the crumbling Iron Curtain to keep Soviet nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands once the Cold War ends.
What makes her unique: Protagonist Melvina Donleavy is a "super recognizer" who never forgets a face.
About the author: Though Kathleen Kent first made her mark with historical novels like The Heretic's Daughter and The Outcasts, she is also known for her Edgar Award-nominated police procedural The Burn.
The Donut Legion by Joe R. Lansdale
What it's about: East Texas writer and former P.I. Charlie Garner takes on "one last job" after the disappearance of his ex-wife Meg and her new husband, who had ties to a strange local cult.
Read it for: Hap and Leonard series author Joe. R. Landsdale's trademark combination of offbeat humor, intricately plotted suspense, and a strong sense of place.
Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina
What it is: a richly detailed and atmospheric horror-thriller that grapples with the real-life issue of missing Indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada.
Starring: high schooler Anna Horn, who has a hunch that the disappearances of young women on the reservation are tied to the VIP suites at her tribe's casino, where she works part time as a cleaner.
For fans of: Cherie Dimaline, Stephen Graham Jones, and Erika T. Wurth.
Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra
What it's about: After her new mother-in-law asks for help, 19-year-old Kaveri Murthy, who has a talent for mathematics, examines a company's accounts...and upsets a killer in 1921 Bangalore.
Why you might like it: This fast-paced follow-up to The Bangalore Detectives Club has recipes and charming secondary characters who help Kaveri investigate.
For fans of: Sujata Massey's Perveen Mistry mysteries, which also feature a determined woman sleuth in 1920s India.
Camp Zero by Michelle Min SterlingIn a world... where climate change has rendered much of the Earth uninhabitable, the northern settlement of Camp Zero welcomes two new arrivals -- sex worker and spy "Rose" and privileged professor Grant -- whose paths will intersect in surprising ways.
For fans of: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or Catherine Hernandez's Crosshairs.
Media buzz: Camp Zero is a selection of The Today Show's Read With Jenna book club.
A Living Remedy: A Memoir by Nicole Chung
What it is: author Nicole Chung's moving follow-up to her award-winning debut memoir All You Can Ever Know, which chronicled her experiences as a transracial Korean adoptee.
What it's about: Chung's grief after losing her parents in quick succession prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Book buzz: Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by The Washington Post, The New York Times, and more, Chung's latest offers "an important record of the emotional cost of the pandemic" (Kirkus Reviews).
A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman... by Timothy Egan
What it's about: In 1920s Indiana, Ku Klux Klan leader and presidential hopeful D.C. Stephenson exerted a terrifying control over the state and local governments -- until he kidnapped, raped, and murdered his one-time employee, a young woman named Madge Oberholtzer.
What happened next: Oberholtzer's courageous deathbed testimony led to Stephenson's murder conviction and effectively ended Klan influence in Indiana politics.
Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, A Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search... by Christine Kenneally
What it is: a sobering exposé spotlighting how children in orphanages throughout North America, Europe, and Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to horrific abuse and murder.
What's inside: firsthand accounts, court transcripts, and other documents that illuminate long-buried secrets.
Reviewers say: "A powerful work of sociological investigation and literary journalism" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening by Ari Shapiro
What it is: the debut memoir-in-essays from NPR All Things Considered co-host and former White House correspondent Ari Shapiro.
What's inside: an incisive behind-the-scenes look at the stories behind Shapiro's reportage that is equal parts amusing and affecting.
Read it for: the author's signature self-deprecating humor and empathetic writing style.
The Seven-Step Homestead: A Guide for Creating the Backyard Microfarm of Your... by Leah M. Webb
What's inside: a detailed guide for those hankering for a homestead to call their own but are overwhelmed by the immensity of the task.
Why you might like it: Written by an experienced homesteader and garden consultant, The Seven-Step Homestead covers planning, planting, poultry, and more, and has gorgeous color photos to boot.
Reviewers say: "A superb guide for virtually all seasons, landscapes, and gardeners" (Booklist).
Did You Eat Yet? Craveable Recipes from an All-American Asian Chef by Ronnie Woo
What's inside: humorous writing, 100 wide-ranging recipes, color photos, recommended hot sauces, and tips on prep and pantry staples.
Recipes include: Fluffy Baked Vanilla Souffle Pancakes, Mama Woo's Minced Beef & Rice Bowls, Butter Chicken Meatballs, Red Curry Mac 'n' Cheese, Mandarin Orange Creamsicle Cake with Crunchy Almonds.
Author buzz: Chef and food personality Ronnie Woo has two masters degrees and has been a model, family therapist, and personal trainer.
How to Write a Poem by Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido; illustrated by Melissa Sweet
The prompt: "Begin with a question, like an acorn waiting for spring." This advice kicks off a metaphor-rich journey in which poets Alexander and Nikaido encourage kids to try poetry-writing by delving into their observations and their imaginations.
The call to action: "Now, show us what you've found."
Art alert: Melissa Sweet's textured collage illustrations, rendered in paint, paper, and found objects, underscore the concepts of engaging the senses and connecting ideas.
Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu
What it is: a suspenseful, romantic adventure pairing Winter Young, a Chinese American pop star, with Sydney Cossette, a 19-year-old spy hiding her fatal lung condition.
What happens: To gather intelligence on a notorious crime boss, Winter performs at a private party while Sydney plays bodyguard. As their mission unfolds, Winter and Sydney's grudging respect turns into something deeper.
Author alert: Fans of author Marie Lu's action-packed Skyhunter, Legend, and Warcross series will enjoy this glamorous and thrilling series opener.
Big Tree by Brian Selznick
What it's about: Sycamore seed siblings Louise and Merwin venture across a danger-filled prehistoric world in search of their destiny -- and a safe place to grow.
How it's told: through a combination of dramatic written sections and hyper-detailed pencil drawings, offering an up-close look at the little seeds as well as a cosmic view that will make you think about your own place in time and space.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807