This Month in Adult Books: December 2023

Reading recommendations for adults
December 18, 2023
Featured Title
Book cover with an illustration of a blurred young woman’s face with the title “The Storm We Made” written across the cover.The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan
In 1934, Malaysia was a British colony and to housewife Cecily Alcantara, the “Asia for Asians” message of a Japanese agent sounds justified. Thus begins an unlikely career in espionage, a choice she will dearly regret in 1945 after the brutal Japanese invasion and lengthy occupation. Her son is missing, possibly interned by the Japanese. One daughter is hidden away, while the other must risk herself daily in a teahouse. Her family is on the brink of destruction and Cecily knows it is all her fault. This is an exploration of the horrors of war, human weakness and desire that resurrects stories long untold to fill in the gaps in history. An excellent choice for those who read and enjoyed Pachinko by Min Jin Lee or The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford.

What's New This Month
The new year brings exciting new books like The Djinn Waits A Hundred Years from South African novelist Shubnum Khan, a book about a dilapidated manor inhabited by eccentric tenants and ghosts from the past. Holiday Country by Inci Atrek is a debut novel about a young woman on a family vacation to Turkey who becomes obsessed with an older man.
The Curse of Pietro Houdini by Derek Miller is historical fiction about a man and a young orphan determined to save art from the Nazis during World War II. Those looking for something a bit more current may wish to check out Deep Freeze by Michael Grumley, a techno thriller about a casualty of a bus crash who is returned to life in a medical lab 20 years in the future. And Anna O by Matthew Blake is a dark and twisty thriller about a woman who commits a double murder while sleepwalking and then never wakes up.  
What's Hot This Month
A selection of great debut novels coming in January 2024.  
What We Are Reading
Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane
Readers should be forewarned that this book contains a large amount of profanity, racism, slurs, and other true to the era/location material. It’s use is not gratuitous, however. Lehane uses it to vividly portray the characters and setting of 1974 Boston, a city on the verge of an explosion over the judicially ordered desegregation of the schools. The lead character, Mary Pat, is a tough as nails working class Irish mother who has suffered tremendous loss and has only her daughter left. When that daughter fails to come home one night, a night on which a young Black man is killed on a subway platform in a white neighborhood, she begins a determined effort to find her, only to be blocked by the local mob. She soon finds herself questioning all that she has known about her community. If there are good people in that community, we do not meet them. Mary Pat herself certainly isn’t. She is compelling and complex, though, and at the center of a crime novel in which everything is connected and in those connections you can see the roots of things (racism, class tensions, geography, crime and more…) that stretch into the present day. There are many lessons to be learned here. 
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