Today's releases include the first in a sci-fi/thriller series by Hugo award winner N.K. Jemisin; a rousing memoir by the youngest sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant; and the lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret dishes royal secrets.
Learn more about these and all of our picks for the Best Books of the Month.
The City We Became: A Novel by N.K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin brings her reality-ripping storytelling skills to her own backyard of New York City in this vivid series starter. In The City We Became, few people realize that Earth’s grandest cities—London, Hong Kong, São Paolo, and others—are alive. When New York City tries to join that select group, five people in the city unexpectedly become the living embodiments of each of the city’s five boroughs. Unfortunately, the first thing they learn is that the newborn city is under attack from a very ancient enemy that has successfully killed cities before, and now the five New Yorkers are targets as well. More fortunately, the city’s avatars soon discover that with great responsibility comes great powers. Paranormal battles on top of cabs, hidden subway stations, New York City politics, and local artists’ galleries thread through each other in a live-wire love letter to the city and its diverse denizens. While Jemisin has won awards with her previous novels, this one may be the most likely to win readers’ hearts as well. —Adrian Liang
Victoria James’ success in the world of high-dollar wine and prestigious New York City restaurants came from humble beginnings. James got her first restaurant job in a diner at age 13, in order to provide for herself and her siblings while their father vacillated between complete neglect and a frightening expectation of perfection. James quickly learned a core value of hospitality, but she also experienced workplace abuse that would recur over the years, even as she ascended to Michelin-star establishments. When James discovered a passion for wine, her insatiable desire to learn led her to become a certified sommelier at age 21, making her the youngest in the country to do so. Wine Girl takes the reader on one woman’s journey of discovery and perseverance, from a truck stop diner to vineyards in France, and wine cellars worth seven figures. An insider account of a glamorous industry riddled with abuses, Wine Girl is eye-opening, inspiring, and incredibly entertaining. --Seira Wilson
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner
Anne Glenconner has been in the inner circle of royalty since she was three years old, chasing five year old Princess Margaret through the corridors of Holkham Hall—Anne's family seat—which was so enormous that footmen would place raw eggs in a bain marie of hot water and by the time they reached the nursery, they would have boiled eggs for the children's breakfast. Daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester, Anne was raised to recognize her place in the pecking order and do her "duty." And since she was a girl, and therefore unable to inherit, her life was almost all duty. In her disarmingly self-deprecating way she tells stories about participating in Queen Elizabeth's coronation procession, or almost marrying the man she loved, Earl Spencer, only to see Lady Fermoy purloin him for her own daughter (a marriage which produced the future Diana, Princess of Wales). Then, for most of her own tumultuous marriage she was lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until HRH’s death in 2002. She casts a sympathetic, but candid light on the troubled "spare" and the frustrations of a life spent as #2. But aside from stories dispatched from the stage wings of history, the most touching parts of this memoir are her stories of the untimely deaths of two of her sons, and the near-miraculous lengths she went to nurse her youngest son back to health following a devastating motorcycle accident. Prepare to read this endearing and even heartbreaking memoir in a single sitting. --Vannessa Cronin
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