Disasters & deception in new fiction

Fiction 5

My top picks for new fiction in July include family drama, a romance, disaster (natural and human), science fiction and lots of deception. Fellowship Point is the story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets. Honey & Spice is a fun fake relationship romance full of music and pop culture. You’ll be blown away by a massive hurricane and it’s effects on families in The Displacements. The sci-fi thriller Upgrade takes you to a world where your genome can be hacked. Follow the deception and intrigue of CIA agent Beth Bradford as she works to uncover the truth in The New Neighbor. Keep reading to explore this month’s Fiction Five.

1. Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark

Fellowship Point is the story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets.

Author Agnes Lee wants to secure her legacy with one last book and by saving the Fellowship Point peninsula on the Maine coast. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. One of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.

Polly’s life has centered around being a wife and mother. She created a beautiful home, and harmony with family and friends. Now she’s torn between what Agnes wants and what her three sons want.

Life gets further complicated when a book editor tries to convince Agnes to write her memoir. Agnes’ memoir would expose more than just her secrets.

Fellowship Point is a marvel. Intricately constructed, utterly unique, this novel set on the coast of Maine is filled with insights about writing, about the perils and freedoms of aging, about the great mysteries, as well as the pleasures, of life. The story about the relationships between two women unfolds, as life does, through joys and losses, confrontations and confessions, with twists along the way that change your perception of all that came before. This is a world is so closely and acutely observed that I felt I lived in it. I was sorry to leave.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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2. Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

“Screenwriter Babalola follows up the collection Love in Color with a vivacious and romantic debut novel about a young Black British woman. Kiki Banjo is a second-year student at Whitewell College, and though Kiki zealously guards her own affections, she isn’t afraid to dish out relationship advice to members of Whitewell’s African-Caribbean Society (jokingly dubbed “Blackwell”).

“Her campus radio show, Brown Sugar, meanwhile, blends Kiki’s brand of spicy, sharp-tongued wisdom with the perfect R&B song for any amorous dilemma. But the ambitious Kiki may have met her match when her favorite professor suggests she pair up on a collaboration with transfer student Malakai Korede.

“Malakai is an aspiring filmmaker whose undeniable talents (and stunning good looks) hardly make up for being cocky and annoying, but she eventually proposes the two of them pretend to pair up romantically as well, their fake relationship serving as fodder for both of their professional projects.

“Suffused with music and pop culture references (thanks in large part to Kiki’s vast musical knowledge and her talent for puns), their repartee is quick and clever, with the verbal sparring heightening their physical attraction and making the sexy and effervescent story emotionally intimate and hilarious in turn. Babalola’s expert handling of the messy vulnerability and joyful exuberance of young love makes this a winner.” –Publishers Weekly

Honey and Spice is funny, sexy and smart—everything that you’d want from a lover. Bolu Babalola has created a sensuous and joyful world that you just want to dive into. It is a blissful celebration of first loves, second chances and sisterhood, and confirms what we already know, Bolu is an expert at her craft.” —Jendella Benson, author of Hope and Glory

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3. The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger

The Larsen-Hill family just moved into their beautiful high-dollar Miami home. Brantley has a lucrative career, Daphne is pursuing her art full time and the kids are happy. Then Luna, the world’s first category 6 hurricane, hits.

Now their home is destroyed, two family members are missing and money is cut-off. They are transported hundreds of miles away to a FEMA mega-shelter with a mass of other evacuees. Their new community includes an insurance-agent-turned-drug dealer, vulnerable children, and a dedicated relief worker trying to keep the peace.

“Tense, claustrophobic, and all too imaginable. A reminder that disaster doesn’t only happen to other people, that in a heartbeat each of us can be put to the test in a desperate search for physical and emotional survival. Holsinger’s beautifully drawn characters are made even more human by their relatable vulnerability in this gripping, twisty drama.”–Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Last House on the Street

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4. Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Is anything different? Logan Ramsay isn’t sure. He feels a little sharper – better concentration, better multitasking and he’s reading a bit faster. Before long he admits something is happening to his brain and his body.

Someone has hacked Logan’s genome. He’s been upgraded because of a horrific family legacy. What’s happening to him is part of a much bigger plan that will have a huge cost to humanity.

His new abilities make Logan the person who might be able to stop what’s happening. To win this war he may need to become something not human.

“Imaginative, perfectly paced, and extremely clever, Upgrade walks the fine line between page-turning thriller and smart sci-fi. Another killer read from Blake.” –Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Project Hail Mary

“Amazingly gripping and totally immersive, with brilliant (near-future) worldbuilding and impeccable plot. You don’t so much sympathize with the main character as live inside his skin.” –Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series.

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5. The New Neighbor by Karen Cleveland

CIA analyst Beth Bradford had it all – perfect family, meaningful career and a great neighborhood. Now she’s preparing to live alone in a new home after her marriage ended and her kids moved out. The CIA is also moving her off the case she’s been working on for years. Beth was tracking an Iranian agent known as The Neighbor.

Beth can’t stop watching Madeline Sterling, the woman who moved into her old house and essentially her old life. She begins to suspect Madeline may have ties to Iranian intelligence. Is Beth paranoid or is something suspicious really happening in her old home?

“Few books have sucked me in as completely as The New Neighbor did. Karen Cleveland ingeniously melds domestic intrigue with the lightning pace of a spy thriller, showing us the devastating personal costs of intelligence work.” –Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Listen to Me

“Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a spy? In The New Neighbor, former CIA analyst Karen Cleveland shows you how to find the security threat in lurking in your own backyard. Filled with CIA insights that only an insider would know and every trick in the analyst’s toolbox . . . a cunningly constructed puzzle box of a thriller.” –Alma Katsu, author of Red Widow

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I’m the library’s fiction selector and I’ve been suggesting new books to library and bookmobile customers for over 17 years. I keep up on all the new book reviews, and my favorite question is “What are you reading?” I love to talk about books and to read books. I like to tell library customers, “Try something new. If you don’t like it, at least the price is right!”