Today's releases include a gritty novel about the brutal battle to win the West, the latest by Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty, a book that explores the gap between achievement and success, and more.
Learn more about these and all of our picks for the Best Books of the Month.
Kevin McCarthy’s Wolves of Eden is a riveting fusion of mystery, historical fiction, and western. The setting is post-Civil War in the Dakota Territory, where the U.S. Army has established forts and its soldiers’ time is mostly spent fighting the Native Americans whose land they keep poaching. McCarthy’s characters come alive on the page, particularly his narrators: the long-suffering and quite clever Corporal Daniel Kohn, and Irish immigrant Michael O’Driscoll who, along with his brother Thomas, re-joined the army when they ran out of options. After a politically connected brothel owner and his wife are murdered outside Fort Phil Kearney, Corporal Kohn, along with his superior, a drunk Lieutenant named Molloy, are sent to find the killer—or at least “a neck for the noose” to appease their bosses in Washington. When the story begins, O’Driscoll is being held prisoner for the crime, and his narrative of events at the fort is told in a unique, endearing voice. McCarthy’s novel made me laugh, cry, and cringe, while my heart swelled with affection for the O’Driscoll brothers, Corporal Kohn, and even the flawed Lieutenant. The hideousness of war, bonds of soldiers and brothers, and a crime no one really wants solved, pulled me headlong into a story I couldn’t wait to share. --Seira Wilson
Liane Moriarty is back with another delicious page-turner, but this time her characters don't discover their lives unexpectedly transformed by a surprising event—they deliberately buy into a ten-day spa package with the hope that they will emerge different, happier people. A few days of silence, lots of yoga and mindfulness, and absolutely no alcohol seem to be working wonders, at least for middle-aged novelist Frances Welty, who is recovering from an online swindle and a career crash. The other eight participants have astonishingly similar positive reactions to their regimen at Tranquillum House…at least until they discover why. Moriarty is at her best when she's diving impetuously into her characters' heads, exposing with affection their rushes to judgment, their contradictions, and their moments of grace and generosity. The "aha" moment that has won Moriarty so many fans with Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty never quite materializes, and some readers might roll their eyes at the multitude of chapters at the end that attempt to tie everything up nicely. But in the end, it's an optimistic novel, showcasing how our shared flawed humanity is also our greatest strength in the face of duress, as long as we can create common ground. —Adrian Liang
When a senator’s aide is literally hit by a bus, Lena is suspicious. Years ago, she was smitten with the same politician, back when they were both young activists fighting the repressive regime of an unnamed island country—but a sudden act of violence brought their budding romance to an unceremonious end. Is he responsible for the aide’s death as well? And is Lena complicit after staying silent about what he did to her? Idra Novey’s Those Who Knew has a ripped-from-the-headlines quality, and despite the fact that you’ll likely be able to guess the ending as easily as a Law & Order episode, she does a deft job of mining the payoffs, and pitfalls, of speaking truth to power. A timely, insightful, and satisfying read. —Erin Kodicek
Did you ever wish you could break down the secret of success to a mathematical equation? It will never be that simple, but Albert-László Barabási's The Formula makes a case. This is not your run-of-the-mill self-help book for seekers of self-confidence and self-esteem. Barabási— the author of several books including Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do and Linked: The New Science of Networks—coalesces scientific and mathematical principles into Five Laws of Success, illustrating them with Gladwellian examples to demonstrate that achievement and performance, while crucial, don't necessarily lead to desired outcomes for teams and individuals. The Formula is required reading for anyone building organizations or just curious about the unseen mechanisms that propel a select few to the highest levels. —Jon Foro
In February of 1944, the Allies launched an air offensive against Germany designed to destroy factories and draw the Luftwaffe into a battle of attrition. Dubbed Operation ARGUMENT, the biggest air battle of WWII had a hidden agenda: to soften up German air power in preparation for D-Day later in the summer. The battle was also known as “Big Week,” and James Holland’s book of the same name is a top-rate World War II book, one that describes the big movements and tactical decisions at the same time that it sweeps us into the action and explores the exploits of characters on both sides. Even Jimmy Stewart appears in this book. This is a well-researched and extremely well executed historical read. --Chris Schluep
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