Monday, December 30, 2019

New Books For The New Year

Photo by Jason Schott.

As the new year is upon us, it's a good time to catch up on some reading after the holiday season, with cold nights the perfect chance to curl up with a book. A variety of new books to satisfy your various interests are out this week, including I Can't Wait To Cancel This, by Beth Evans; The Playground, by Jane Shemilt; We Will Rise By Steve Beaven; and Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg.

I Can't Wait To Cancel This: A Planner For People Who Don't Like People
By Beth Evans
Morrow Gift; hardcover; $14.99; available Monday, December 30

Beth Evans is an Instagram illustrator/comic artist with over 260,000 followers across social media platforms. She is active in making daily comics that capture the feelings of daily life. 

If you enjoyed her previous book I Really Didn't Think This Through, or anyone who appreciates feeling introspective or anxious at times, you will enjoy her new book, an interesting take on a day planner, I Can't Wait To Cancel This.

This undated week-at-a-glance diary is sort of an anti-planner, a place to keep track of your plans and goals, encouraging progress at your own pace, and you can set the schedule.

This is a personal space in which you can chart the things that matter most, including dreams and goals, and the daily steps needed to get us there, with space to recalibrate if things aren't coming together exactly on time.

There are 12 monthly sections, each accompanied by never-before-seen cartoons from Beth, and each part has four-week-long spreads broken into seven-day slots. They can be started anytime by circling the appropriate month listed at the top of the section page.

This compact datebook has a portfolio packet on the inside back cover, an elastic closure, and best of all, original cover art from Beth that compliments her previous publications.

The Playground
By Jane Shemilt
William Morrow; paperback; $16.99; available Monday, December 30

Jane Shemilt received an MA in creative writing while working full-time as a physician, and her debut, The Daughter, was nominated for the Edgar Award for best first novel, as well as being a #1 bestseller in the United Kingdom.

In her new novel, the suspense thriller The Playground, during the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in shocking violence and unimaginable fallout.

Eve is a bougie earth mother with a trust fund, who has three little ones, a blue-collar husband, and an obsession with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. 

Melissa is a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises. She curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding.

Grace is a young Zimbabwean immigrant who lives in a high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father, Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist. She goes above and beyond for her family.

Throughout the carefree days of the warmest season, the couples become very close, as there are barbecues, garden parties, and a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare, an affair begins, and what they don't notice is the children running wild. 

Everyone is so distracted and self-absorbed, they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes. They do not realize evil has crept slowly into their world until they begin to unravel the truth of what happened.

There is a heart-rending death, a kidnapping, a narrow escape, a shocking courtroom revelation, and a plot that doesn't let up as the three families desperately search for answers. 

We Will Rise: A True Story of Tragedy and Resurrection In The American Heartland
By Steve Beaven
Little A; hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $14.95; eBook, $4.99; available January 1

The University of Evansville Purple Aces men's basketball team has been in the news a lot lately, as they gained some notoriety in November when they scored a major upset over nationally-ranked Kentucky, and their coach, Walter McCarty, has been placed on leave for a possible Title IX violation.

There is a new book, We Will Rise, that will give you some history of this remarkable program you may not know much about. Steve Beaven, an Evansville native and a former staff writer at The Oregonian, looks at the tragic loss the team suffered and the resurrection of a team and its coach at the heart of a small Indiana town.

By 1977, the Evansville Purple Aces had won five small-college national championships, and they were on the verge of being the spotlight across the country.

That all changed in an instant, just four games into their season. On a foggy night, the plane carrying the team and its coach crashed after takeoff killing everyone on board. The tragedy seemed insurmountable, a devastating hit to a fading factory town.

A new coach, Dick Walters, with the backing of a town in mourning, promised to rebuild the cherished institution. Walters put together a team of castoffs, walk-ons, and overachievers, and he restored the legacy of a team and its fans. 

That team went on to make history, and We Will Rise is a heartwarming story of the spirit of this team, its fans, and a resilient community.

Lost Hills
By Lee Goldberg
Thomas & Mercer; hardcover, 253 pages; hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $15.95; eBook, $4.99; available January 1

Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 30 novels, including Washington Post bestsellers Killer Thriller and True Fiction, as well as King City, The Walk, fifteen Monk mysteries, and the internationally bestselling Fox & O'Hare books.

Eve Ronin is the focus of Goldberg's new book, Lost Hills. She became the youngest female homicide detective in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's history after a video of her off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral. Eve is determined to demonstrate that she is worthy of the promotion, and her chance comes when she and her burned-out soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. 

The horrific carnage screams murder, but there are no corpses. Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while facing her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the distraught family. 

This ordeal will either prove she has what it takes, or be her downfall.

To give Lost Hills its authentic detail, which has been lauded by season crime writers and reviewers, Goldberg attended several intensive homicide investigator training seminars and interviewed experienced cops and forensic experts. 

It is set in Goldberg's own neighborhood of Calabasas, California, where the San Fernando Valley meets the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the landscape's vivid details jump off the page. The novel's climax occurs during a rampaging wildfire, which Goldberg imagined and wrote about long before the real firestorms roared through the hills around his home last year.

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