Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at biographical fiction set in 19th century Cuba and Gilded Age New York City, a family history trilogy set in Ireland and beyond, a modern romance between pen pals, a YA book about a budding young writer who stumbles across more than she bargained for with her first assignment, and an audiobook that is the first nonfiction from a novelist.
If you enjoy historical fiction:
Chanel Cleeton’s The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (2021)*
Cuban American author Cleeton turns her attention to real-life Cuban revolutionary Evangelina Cisneros for her latest novel. The fiery jailed teenager became a cause célèbre in America when newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst recognizes that the story could give him a leg up in his feud with rival Joseph Pulitzer and tries to engineer her escape. Complications ensue, especially when the Spanish-American War erupts.
*Ebook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Beatriz Williams and Marie Benedict.
Olive Collins’s The O’Neill Trilogy (2016-2020)
This trilogy by Irish writer Olive Collins follows multiple branches of the same family, so though the series is connected with that familial link, the individual books within it function as standalones. You can read one or read them all, in any order. Each book balances historic settings with modern ones as present-day characters try to unravel secrets. The Tide Between Us follows an Irish child deported to Jamaica in the 1820s, and The Weaver’s Legacy chronicles an Irish family’s attempt to immigrate to the American West after the American Civil War, while The Memory of Music centers around Ireland during the Easter Rising.
Recommended for those who enjoy family saga series.
If you love romance:
Kerry Winfrey’s Very Sincerely Yours (2021)
Teddy’s life has not gone the way she wanted. It certainly wasn’t the plan to be creeping up on 30, single after a bad breakup and surrounded by vintage toys at her job in a toy store. Desperate for advice, she starts writing to a children’s host she admires who always seems to have answers, unaware that he’s just as lonely himself. Correspondence and romance ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Jennifer Crusie and Sophia Kinsella.
If you want YA:
Camryn Garrett’s Off the Record (2021)
Josie has wanted to be a writer more than anything for as long as she can remember, so when she wins a contest and gets the opportunity to write a celebrity profile for a magazine, she jumps on it. The seventeen-year-old quickly becomes wrapped up in a glitzy world of fame and celebrity as she quickly makes friends and even develops a crush on the young heartthrob she’s profiling. But as some actresses come to her with a much more disturbing story to tell, Josie quickly realizes her assignment has gotten a lot harder.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Amber Smith.
If you prefer audiobooks:
Matthew Pearl’s The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America (2021)**
Matthew Pearl has been writing historical mystery/thrillers for years but has now turned his attention to nonfiction with The Taking of Jemima Boone. If you know your early American history, you’re probably aware of the general gist of the story–the daughter of famous frontiersman Daniel Boone is kidnapped by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party, and her father sets off on a famous quest to find her. Pearl puts his novelist skills to good work here by telling a page-turning tale while also delving into the broader cultural and historical context of what happened and the revenge cycle that ensued.
**Ebook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of David Grann.
What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.