Hello and welcome to this month’s look at some new releases at Johnson County Library. Since February is the shortest month of the year, today we’ll be doing some short, quick reviews, hopefully exposing you to some great books to warm up with in the cold weather. Plus, we know you made all those New Year’s Resolutions about reading more books that you haven’t lived up to. There’s still time! The Johnson County Library can help! We might not be able to get you to the gym, but we can certainly help you with your reading lists.
If you love an epic, sweeping, multi-generational family saga, be sure to check out Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, where a young Korean woman, pregnant and abandoned by her lover, marries a minister and moves to Japan. She and her family must adapt and thrive in a culture that looks down on them. Filled with colorful characters, grace, and heart, Lee - who also wrote the critically acclaimed Free Food For Millionaires – writes a wonderful historical fiction novel that is elegant and moving.
If you like fast-paced novels with personality, quirkiness, and heart, be sure to place a hold on Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays, a sciency thriller about time travel gone horribly wrong. Imagine a future that was born from the 1960s, with flying cars and Jetsons-style technology. Tom is from that reality, but when he causes a time-travel mishap, he finds himself in our world, brokenhearted and searching for a way back. Despite the sci-fi premise, All Our Wrong Todays is surprisingly heartfelt and even romantic. It's a great pick if you loved last summer’s hit Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
Turning from a sci-fi future to a more realistic one is Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus. Dr. Harari, who wrote the stirring and award-winning Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind, returns to the bestseller lists, this time looking forward, not backward. Homo Deus tries to grapple with the realistic future of our species - if humans can conquer aging, war, and disease, where do we go from here? Enlightening and challenging, and with Dr. Harari’s warm, conversational, writing style, give this one a shot and you'll sound brilliant at your next dinner party or book club meeting.
Let’s face it – you like your novels dystopian, tightly-plotted, with a sprinkle of fantasy or sci-fi, and preferably taking place in a dystopian reality where a corrupt ruling class is just BEGGING to get taken down by a group of young revolutionaries. Oh, and some romance would be nice, too. We’ve got you covered. For fans of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games or Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series, be sure to get your holds in for Gilded Cage by Vic James. This takes place in an alternate England where only the ruling class can use magic and a young working-class family is broken up and separated in order to serve others. But secrets, plots, magic, romance, and revolution start to bubble. A promising start to a new series.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s daring novel about a double agent assimilating to America after the Vietnam War, The Sympathizer, won an entire cabinet-full of prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. He’s back with a second release, a collection of sharply insightful stories. In The Refugees, Nguyen covers a broad swath of topics centering on the immigrant experience, but also including love, the search for identity, and the importance of family. It’s rare to be a part of a major literary voice this early in his career, so jump aboard.
A Piece Of The World by Christina Baker Kline, the author of book club favorite Orphan Train, is back with a historical fiction novel based on Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting, “Christina’s World.” Christina was an actual person, and an inspiration for the painting. Kline weaves fact and fiction and views the world through Christina’s eyes as she grows up in rural Maine, is stricken with a degenerative disease, and prefers to crawl instead of use a wheelchair. A novel of friendship, passion, desire, and ultimately, heart.
That's it for this month, everyone! Be sure to check back soon for March new releases. To tide you over, be sure to check out some of our lists at the "We Recommend" section of our website, as well as our Staff Picks blog. Happy reading!