This Week’s Biggest Books

August is heating up, and so are the book release schedules. This week we have a fantastic work of history from David Grann detailing one of the least-known but most-important moments in the history of law enforcement, the newest from Debbie Macomber that follows two broken people on a journey of faith, Phillipa Gregory’s latest work of historical fiction following the Tudor family as they struggle to dominate the kingdom of England, and so many more books you’re guaranteed to find a book to love.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann

Considering how important they were in shaping the modern age, the Osage Indian murders of the 1920s are remarkably little-known today. When the Nation became incredibly wealthy after oil was discovered on their land, more than 20 of its members of were murdered between 1921 and 1926. As public outrage grew, the federal government was pressured into putting the obscure Bureau of Investigation, led by a young Herbert Hoover, in charge of the case. Hoover used the notoriety of these awful crimes to establish what would soon be known as the FBI as the nation’s preeminent investigative body, and himself as its all-powerful chief. Grann, of The Lost City of Z fame, does a marvelous job catching you up on vital history that’s been nearly forgotten.

The Store, by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Patterson and frequent collaborator DiLallo offer up one of those thrillers so perfectly timed it’s spooky. Jacob and Megan Brandeis live in New York in a future nearer than is comfortable, where drones and cameras watch from every possible angle and their careers as writers seem doomed, thanks to an omnipresent online retailer called only The Store, which supplies everything you need, delivered to your door almost before you even realize you needed it. Secrets abound—Jacob is hiding something that could destroy his family, and he and Megan move to Nebraska to work for The Store as a career Hail Mary, investigating the truth behind the all-powerful online giant in order to write an explosive book. But what they find is worse than they could have imagined, and it isn’t long before they’re running for their lives, pursued by the unlimited power of The Store.

Any Dream Will Do, by Debbie Macomber

Shay Benson made a terrible mistake trying to help her brother, and went to prison for embezzlement. Drew Douglas is a widowed father and pastor whose grief has pushed him to a crisis of faith. When they meet, there are immediate sparks, but these two damaged people immediately find obstacles in their way. Drew’s church doesn’t like the idea of a convicted felon dating their pastor, and as unwanted reminders of Shay’s past creep into her present they threaten everything she’s building. Macomber is a master of fleshing out characters and their relationships, and Drew and Shay’s romance develops into something you can root for as these fundamentally decent people struggle to find signs that they should move forward in their lives, even as obstacles endlessly present.

The Last Tudor, by Phillipa Gregory

Gregory returns with another masterful work of historical fiction, this time detailing the lives of the Grey sisters, used—and sacrificed—as pawns in their family’s quest for power. Lady Jane Grey was elevated to the throne in opposition to Mary, Queen of Scots—and imprisoned and executed for it. Her sister Katherine wishes only to be able to live her life, but first Mary and then Elizabeth see her as a potential threat, especially if she were to produce an heir. When she becomes pregnant and her secret marriage is revealed, Elizabeth imprisons her in the same tower where her sister awaited execution, leaving only the last Grey sister, Mary, free. A beautiful dwarf, Mary was considered a political non-entity, but like Emperor Claudius she has learned to listen when people dismiss her—and to remember.

Barely Legal, by Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall

Herbie Fisher has been a supporting player in Woods’ Stone Barrington books for years, moving from comedy relief as the sad-sack incompetent to a sharp lawyer benefiting from Barrington’s occasionally tough-love tutelage. Now Barrington is the minor character, as Woods partners up with Parnell Hall for a thriller featuring Herbie Fisher as the lead. Fisher has to fend for himself after getting entangled in a court case in which the deck is stacked against him—even before he’s framed for murder. Herbie has learned well from Barrington, and when he realizes he’s the only person who can save the day, he heads out—alone—risking everything.

The Good Daughter, by Karin Slaughter

Slaughter’s latest standalone thriller kicks off twenty-eight years in the past, when a pair of thugs invade the home of sketchy attorney Rusty Quinn, who has made a name for himself defending the scum of society. Rusty’s not home, though, and the botched plan ends with his wife dead, his daughter Sam shot in the head and buried alive, and daughter Charlotte on the run. Decades later, Charlie and her family are still dealing with the fallout from that night, and when she walks into a school shooting the wounds re-open. Charlie sees the kid accused of the shooting with a gun, but something doesn’t sit right with her, and she launches her own investigation even as her father and sister take on the defense duties. Every meeting between the family crackles with dark energy that ratchets up every time a new mystery is unveiled or new clue revealed, twisting the story into delicious levels of tension.

The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, by Dinesh D’Souza

D’Souza’s latest overheated work of political bomb-throwing pursues two arguments. On the one hand, he seeks to disprove accusations that President Trump and his administration (and by extension the Republican Party and the conservative movement) are fascists seeking to undermine democracy and pervert the American government. On the other, he seeks to prove that it is actually the left or so-called progressive segment of the political divide that has its roots in fascism, and routinely lifts tactics and strategies from the Nazis and other brutal movements.

Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, by Jeff Flake

Republican Senator Jeff Flake has been one of the first conservative voices to openly oppose and criticize President Trump, and in this new book he goes for broke, burning bridges with his colleagues and his party with aplomb. The cynical argue that Flake’s polling numbers and poor relationship with Trump signal the end of his career anyway—meaning he has nothing to lose by going thermonuclear on modern Republicans. This may be true, but there’s no denying the fun of reading Flake’s opinions about a rogue’s gallery of conservative icons, ranging from Newt Gingrich to Alex Jones, with plenty of ink for Trump and his administration to boot.

Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, by Joshua Green
Months after the election and the inauguration, many continue to struggle to understand what, exactly, happened when Donald Trump won what’s been described as the greatest upset in Presidential history. Green, based on his own firsthand experiences covering the campaign as well as dozens of interviews after the fact, ties together the disparate forces that elevated Steve Bannon to run Trump’s campaign, transforming Trump into the leader of a populist movement with connections to the darkest corners of the so-called “alt-right.” Green’s analysis of Bannon’s strategy to destroy Hillary Clinton and see Trump elected is a must-read for any student of history.

The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware
Four women—Isa, Kate, Thea, and Fatima—spent their boarding school years at Salten House, sneaking away to hang with Kate’s art teacher father and her dreamy brother and play the Lying Game, a challenge to get people to believe the most outlandish stories they could dream up. It all ends in tragedy, and 20 years later, new mum Isa receives a note from Kate that sends her off on a train and back to the village of Salten, where she meets the rest of the old gang. It seems a bone has been found in the marshes nearby, and the women know all about its origins—and the discovery of a body means all of their lives, and the lies they’re built on, could come apart.

The Late Show, by Michael Connelly
Detective Renée Ballard was an up-and-comer in the LAPD, until she filed sexual harassment charges against her boss and her career went sideways. She landed on the night shift in Hollywood, which means she never finishes an investigation, always handing them off to the day shift. Until she catches two cases she can’t let go of: a prostitute beaten into unconsciousness, who claims she was assaulted in the “upside-down house” before passing out, and a young woman killed in a nightclub shooting. Ballard works the cases during the day and continues to take her regular shift in the evening, dodging her former boss (who’s officially working the nightclub shooting) and her own demons—demons which begin to haunt her as she begins losing sleep and delving deeper into the twin mysteries.

House of Spies, by Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon returns in the 17th entry in Silva’s celebrated series, thrust into an international hunt for the perpetrators of a horrific terrorist attack in London. He and his team follow a single mistake made by the attackers to the south of France, where a wealthy couple live a life seemingly disconnected from the troubles of the world. But Jean-Luc Martel’s wealth stems from the global drug trade, and even if he and his former fashion model wife Olivia want to deny it, Allon knows they could be the perfect tools against terror—and two of the most unlikely heroes of the modern age. The investigation ranges far and wide as Allon seeks nothing less than revenge.

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur, sometimes referred to as an “Instapoet,” never wanted to be a poet or a writer; she wanted to be an artist, and considered her poetry a hobby. Born in India, and now just 24 years old, her book Milk and Honey, originally self-published, has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for almost a year. Her work is rooted in her cultural and religious background as a Sikh woman, and confront, with brutal honesty, issues from feminism, to violence, to everyday frustrations and depression. She built a huge following online, posting her poems as she completed them.

Camino Island, by John Grisham
Grisham is as reliable a writer as they come; his novels are always twisty, exciting, and intelligent. Camino Island kicks off with an unusual heist: the theft of irreplaceable books from Princeton University’s vault, housed below the Firestone Library. On Camino Island in Florida, Bruce Cable owns a small rare bookstore, and secretly dabbles in black market tomes of the priceless variety. A struggling writer named Mercer Mann is offered a dubious job: infiltrate Cable’s inner circle, get close to his sources, learn his methods, and find out if he’s behind the theft. But as Mercer gets in deeper, she realizes she’s in over her head.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Despite the fact that grief and loss are experiences we all share, there is remarkably little structure around our processes for dealing with tragedy. Even for a highly successful person such as Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, the sudden, unexpected death of her husband left her wondering how people deal with such events, leading directly to her collaboration with Adam Grant, professor at Wharton and author in his own right. Option B explores the theory and practical application of techniques to help you not only weather grief and survive life’s swerves, but to move on from it and continue to have a meaningful and fulfilling life despite the void left by those we’ve lost. The combination of Sandberg’s raw, personal experience and Grant’s more academic contributions make this a book many will find incredibly fresh and incredibly helpful.

Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
Franken, the current Junior Senator from Minnesota in his second term, was of course once a professional comedy writer and comedian—and remains one of the funniest people in the world. In this hilarious and insightful memoir, Franken discusses what drew him from Hollywood back home and into public service, his bruising first campaign (which he won by a slim margin of just 312 votes), his experiences in the Senate, and his contempt for fellow Senator Ted Cruz. It is his breaking of the usual traditions of senatorial cordiality with Cruz that will grab a lot of eyeballs, but Franken’s smart, intelligent story is inspirational fodder for anyone who thinks they might want to enter public service.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World, by William H. McRaven
Admiral McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin has gone down in history as one of the most inspirational and motivational speeches of its kind. The speech drew on McRaven’s training in the Navy, boiled those keys to success down to ten simple rules, and discussed how those rules could be applied to any situation. This expanded version goes into greater detail, but the core is the same: simple actions have powerful cumulative effects, and the secret of success isn’t aggression or greed, but humility, compassion, and the understanding that everything requires that you do the work—and the work starts with the simplest stuff, like, yes, making your bed. A fantastic graduation gift for anyone about to set out to make their mark on the world, and a great read for anyone seeking to get their life in order.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
An ideal book for anyone who wishes they understood their universe a little better, but are afraid that the concepts will be too complex, or too close to math. Tyson is not just one of the smartest men in the world, he’s one of the most personable and charismatic as well. His book is, therefore, fun; he doesn’t use a lot of scientific terms, but instead explores space and time and the known universe in simpler ways, ways that even folks who have never had any scientific training will find incredibly easy to understand. It’s like having a series of conversations with your really smart, really funny uncle.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
From its in-your-face title you now this is not your parents’ self-help book—in fact, it’s not really a self-help book at all. Manson, known for his hilarious and popular blog, offers up a guide to maturity more than anything else. He takes down more traditional self-help books that offer praise and imply that everyone is special; Manson points out that not everyone can be special, or the word becomes meaningless. Instead, he suggests that the best way to find some measure of happiness and inner peace is to hone your ability to deal with the inevitable disappointments and setbacks that come in life. The title refers not to being “indifferent” he says, but rather to an attitude where you accept yourself and your flaws instead of blindly seeking affirmation that you are someone you’re not. Anyone looking for a funny, intelligent guide to being better should look no further.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
It’s the rare memoir that aspires to do more than tell the author’s story, but Vance does just that in this remarkable book. Simultaneously the life story of this self-described “hillbilly” and an examination of the societal forces in operation throughout his existence that helped him rise up and graduate Yale Law School, Vance takes a refreshingly honest and objective view of his family, seeing their many strengths as well as their various flaws, and offers a complex and moving worldview that sees the power of a close-knit community and a tightly bonded family as the most important factors in his own success. If you’ve never known anyone who referred to themselves in all seriousness as a hillbilly, this book will be both a revelation and an education.

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