The best books of the moment

The Best Books of the Moment

So many books, so little time… We, the digital booksellers of 24symbols, are set on helping you make the best of your time. This is why each week we present you a book that has caught our special attention. This may be a book that everybody is talking about, the debut novel from an author one should look out for or a hidden gem that we were lucky enough to bring to light. Check out the best books of the moment and find your next read. We made sure to include something for everyone’s taste:

Into the Woods

David Mark

If you are looking for a chilling, slightly supernatural thriller, this one is for you! David Mark excels at creating unusual plots and INTO THE WOODS is no exception.

Our protagonist Rowan is a writer in distress as the deadline for his second true crime novel is approaching and he has not produced a single page. But not only the page is blank, his mind is too, because he has not a clue what he could possibly write about. Seeking for inspiration in his sister’s remote lake house, he comes across a local disappearance case 30 years ago. Three girls went into the woods with a stranger but only two came out. The remaining girls did not remember what happened and the case was closed and buried in the town’s collective memory. Rowan starts investigating and digs out horrors that threaten his own safety.

This is the first novel of a trilogy and as such Mark takes his time to introduce a wide range of absolutely loveable characters. But don’t be fooled, even though the story is slow at first, it is intense and will glue you to the pages throughout the whole book! We cannot wait for the next part of the series and hope that Mark will not suffer the same writer’s block as his protagonist…

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The Girls in Blue

Fenella J. Miller

Historical fiction at its best! With dozens of books published, Miller is known for her excellent research and courageous protagonists. Jane is eighteen years old when the news break that the war has started. She takes her chances and escapes her violent father to join the fight, more specifically the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. This unique setting sets this book apart, as it allows Miller to introduce many interesting bits and pieces about women in WWII. Get ready to find out everything there is to know about the WAAF.

It is a very emotional read that will surely make you laugh and cry. Jane struggles to fight not only for her country but also for herself. She finds friends and love but is reluctant to give in to her feelings. Luckily Oscar is so smitten with her that he is determined to win her over at all costs. His resolution only grows when he learns about her troubled past. A terrific book that will hopefully be the start of a new WWII saga.

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One Night Two Souls Went Walking

Ellen Cooney

What is a soul? The nameless protagonist of Ellen Cooney’s latest novel is a chaplain and seeks for answers where maybe there are none. We accompany her on a nightshift that brings her to the side of many different patients. Some young, some old, some with severe health issues, others on their way to leave the hospital.

It is a beautifully quiet and uplifting novel that collects the experiences and attitudes of people in near-death situations. The protagonist is spiritual and at the same time down-to-earth, with a special gift to find the right words at the right time. She gives hope where there is very little left and concentrates on the important things of life. While this could easily turn sentimental, the protagonist is by no means a know-it-all who does everything right. Instead, she takes a pragmatic approach to her job and is not afraid of telling a little lie. A very special read that comes timely, as we can all use a big portion of hope!

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This Is Happiness

Niall Williams

Niall Williams is an exquisite storyteller who takes such great care in describing places and people that you feel as if you were right there with them.

Our protagonist Noel is a man in his 70s who remembers his youth when he returned to his grandparents’ village to recover from a crisis of faith (no small matter for an aspiring priest) and ends up making his first romantic experiences and finding true friendship. What makes this coming-of-age story so special is that it is told from the perspective of the aged Noel. His tender memories and reflections about time are poetic to say the least and make this book a perfect choice for the upcoming holidays!

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People of Abandoned Character

Clare Whitfield

What would you do if you thought the man you just married might be Jack the Ripper? What started out as a passionate love affair, soon turns into a true nightmare. Thomas, in the beginning quite the charming surgeon from a wealthy family, abuses Susannah physically and emotionally. He also disappears for days, only to return home with scratches on his face or blood-stained clothes. When Susannah realizes that his worrisome appearances coincide with the dates of the so-called Whitechapel murders, she fears that Thomas might be the man everybody is looking for. Or is her imagination running wild?

Clare Whitfield has delivered an astonishing debut novel that captures the atmosphere of London in the late 1880s with a modern and entertaining narrative voice. Susannah is a strong and very likeable character even though we cannot be sure how much of her account is influenced by the opium drops she takes to dull her senses. Prepare yourself for many surprising twists and turns that keep the reading pace fluid until the very end.

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Dark Days

D.W. Saur

Submerge yourself into the world of Sori, the complex fantasyland of D.W. Saur’s latest novel DARK DAYS. Sori is inhabited by several sects who live more or less peacefully together. However, as the title suggests, dark times lie ahead, as there is a secret plan to create war among the different sects. Maya, the strong-minded heroine of the novel, is the chosen one – “the one” to avoid war. As the story unfolds, she discovers that she has incredible powers.

Saur does a great job describing Sori, its inhabitants and their rituals in this novel. He creates an original world full of action and imagination. As Maya sets out to protect her land, she faces difficult choices and it is a real joy to watch her grow both in strength and wisdom. This is a powerful start to what promises to be an addictive new fantasy series. We are looking forward to reading more about Maya and Sori.

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Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea

Sarah Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker has bedazzled critics and readers alike with her dreamlike fiction that merges art and science. No wonder that she has become one of the most acclaimed science fiction writers of our times. She has been a finalist for the prestigious Hugo Award and has won the Sturgeon and Nebula Award. With over 50 short stories published, this collection has been long due and there is not a single chapter we would want to miss. 

The stories gathered in this volume take you on a wild journey to the past, the future and alienated versions of the present. They all share a weird, sometimes eerie, atmosphere and very relatable characters. Pinsker creates protagonists that one can easily identify with, even though the situations she describes are far from usual (yet always within the imaginable which makes them even more disturbing). Just take OUR LADY OF THE OPEN ROAD from 2015. The story envisions a grim social distancing scenario where musicians no longer give live concerts due to a pandemic and terrorists threats… Sounds familiar? You better start reading to see what else can be expected in the future!

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The Dutch House

Ann Patchett

Prize-winning author Ann Patchett is a heavyweight among contemporary American writers. So it is of little surprise that, as soon as one of her books hits our shelves, we start reading. In THE DUTCH HOUSE (finalist of this year’s Pulitzer Prize), she continues to study the drama that comes with family. Especially when bad luck strikes.

Danny and Maeve are siblings who are left by their mother when only three and ten years old. As a consequence they dote on each other but life is still good. Then their introverted father remarries and their happy childhood comes to an abrupt end.

It is a slow story told by Danny who jumps forth and back in his memories as he and Maeve mourn the life they have lost. The Dutch House becomes an obsession for the two that keeps them tied to the past. This is a heartwarming story of compassion and forgiveness, of new beginnings and repeating patterns, of time as the healer of all wounds. A compelling read that will find its way straight to your heart.

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Love Me Like You Do 

Aimee Brown

A wonderful feel-good romance to forget the pains of the real world for a moment. Meet runaway bride Parker and Liam, a charming Southerner who has a broken heart of his own. Not much unlike WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, the two keep bumping into each other (in a much smaller time span). Parker has sworn to keep romance out of her life but it is not as easy as she thinks. As Parker and Liam take turns in telling the story, we get to know and love them both, hoping for them to make the right decisions while they are trying to heal and move on. 

If you love the exhilaration that lies in every beginning of a love story, the tension of what will come next, while secretly knowing that those two are just MFEO, this book is for you. And if you do not know what MFEO means, that is just one more reason to start reading LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO!

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John M. Del Vecchio

In his latest novel, New York Times bestselling author of THE 13th VALLEY surprises with a deeply emotional novel about the dangers of division and polarization of society but also about the importance of family, trust and friendship.

DEMISE is the story of John Pazunio, a man about to turn fifty who, in the time span of roughly 100 days, loses control of his seemingly perfect suburban life. Parallel to his personal downfall, we witness the decline of his neighborhood, as it is shaken by the economic consequences of a big corporate buyout, as well as the emotional aftermath of a horrific accident that killed several teenagers. The dramatic events in John’s and his friends’ lives alternate with John’s childhood memories and his “last thoughts” which hint at his imminent suicide. Del Vecchio does a great job capturing John’s different selves, from little Johnny-Panni, to grown up John and, ultimately, his suicidal self. 

Even though the book deals with personal and societal traumas that are frankly frightening (even more so because they are very real and present in today’s society), it is an uplifting read that stresses the importance of unity and trust and leaves you with a good feeling.

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Vampires of Portlandia

Jason Tanamor

This is not the typical Vampire story you may have in mind… Inspired by Filipino aswang lore, Jason Tanamor presents a fresh take on vampire fiction. Aswang refers to all kind of shapeshifting evil spirits, including vampires, werebeasts, witches, etc. But you will find that the aswang vampires are quite different from their Western cousins. Marcella Leones, head of an aswang vampire clan, has moved with her family from the Philippines to Portland. She instructs her family to blend in as well as they can but after her death, the orders are broken. Suddenly Portland’s murder rates increase dramatically and Marcella’s grandson Percival vows to find out what is going on.

Not only does this novel give fantastic (by all means) insight into Filipino mythology but also offers a close look on immigration and assimilation. If you are interested in vampires or folklore or if you are simply looking for an entertaining and original read, this book is for you!

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The Psychology of Money

Morgan Housel

It is not often that a non-fiction book finds its way into our list of the Best Books of the Moment. Yet this one is a jewel that we simply cannot ignore! THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MONEY offers a clear vision of capitalism, giving us a sight behind the curtains of Wall Street. Housel intersperses his findings with anecdotes of the usual suspects (Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates) but also of less known people such as janitor Ronald Read or those who could have done great if life hadn’t had other plans for them. These insertions make the book an entertaining read that will teach and delight you, even if you tend to skip the financial section of your newspaper.

You can read the twenty chapters about wealth, greed and happiness consecutively or individually. Especially interesting is Housel’s personal approach to building wealth. It is worth pointing out that he does not reduce wealth to financial wealth. The final chapter also stands out as it explains how the American consumers got to where they are today.

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All the Right Mistakes

Laura Jamison

This is the story about five women in their early forties who managed to stay friends since college. All of them are mothers and each has found her own way of juggling motherhood and work. When Heather, the most successful of the five in her career, publishes a book that analyses the key life “mistakes” of her friends, the friendship is at risk and the women start questioning their choices.

As the title suggests, this book considers mistakes not as something generally bad. Instead it argues that mistakes are necessary to find out who we are. How do we deal with the obstacles that we are faced with? There is no perfect plan to architect your life, no straight road to success. We get to know four different approaches to motherhood and work-life balance. Even though the author tends to explain too much, this is a great take on the different ways life can work out for you.

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High as the Waters Rise 

Anja Kampmann translation by Anne Posten

This astonishing debut novel by young German poet Anja Kampmann was one of the most celebrated novels in Germany after its publication in 2018. It is longlisted for the National Book Award for translated literature 2020.

HIGH AS THE WATERS RISE is a modern odyssey of an oil rig worker who has lost his friend to the sea at a work accident. It is a journey back to the roots, his friend’s as well as his own, only to discover that twelve years of moving from one oil platform to another has estranged him from the settled lives of the people he cares about. Kampmann captures this alienation in beautiful images that will stick with you long after finishing the novel. Just as remarkable as the metaphorical language are the bits and pieces that are kept in the dark, thus emphasizing the man’s isolation, loss and sorrow.

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Something Worth Doing

Jane Kirkpatrick

As bestselling author of more than thirty books, Jane Kirkpatrick has a reputation for portraying fascinating historical women in her novels. SOMETHING WORTH DOING is yet another proof of her ability to make history come to life in fiction.

Abigail Scott was an impressive woman who gave up her teaching job to marry young and have six children but ended up being the provider of the family and a selfless fighter of women’s rights. The novel is well researched and one learns a lot about the suffrage movement of the second half of the 19th century in Oregon. Kirkpatrick masterfully recreates the atmosphere of what it meant to be a working woman in the 1850s. If nowadays it is difficult to combine career and family, imagine how it must have been 170 years ago (with six children!). It is thanks to women like Abigail Scott Duniway and the sacrifices they have made that women today can vote, own property, businesses, etc. A wonderful read that rightfully remembers and honours an inspiring woman.

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Michael Mammay

Hold onto your seats because you are in for a treat. Even if you are not into science fiction, SPACESIDE should be on your reading list. The novel is a perfect mix of sci-fi, suspense and action. Some of you may know Colonel Carl Butler from Mammay’s debut novel PLANETSIDE. Meant to be a stand-alone, the book has now evolved into a captivating series. Even though SPACESIDE is a great read by itself, you might want to read PLANETSIDE first to get the full picture.

Butler is an ex-military who thought he had found a calm and quiet retirement job at a high-tech military company. His peaceful days come to an abrupt end when one of the firm’s competitors is hacked. Asked to investigate the attack, he is thrown into a mysterious war that requires his military mastermind. A dangerous task he quite enjoys…

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Do Her No Harm

Naomi Joy

Annabelle’s best friend Tabitha mysteriously disappears after a night out. Everything points to murder but the police never finds the murderer. Annabelle is determined to get to the bottom of the truth, so when a crime journalist contacts her five years after the incident, she happily agrees to collaborate. Little does she know the kind of secrets they will bring to light.

This thriller may be a bit slow in the beginning but things get moving once Annabelle teams up with the journalist. It turns out that Tabitha might not have been the person she thought her to be. This is a story about different life visions, betrayal, loss and never-ending friendship. As different persons are telling the events, we get deep insight into the characters thoughts and feelings. But let us warn you, none of them is especially trustworthy. This just adds to the twists and turns of the book and builds up to a shocking ending – find out yourself!

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Nam-nyong Paek

It is not often that a book from North Korea hits our shelves and obviously we were very intrigued by the arrival of Paek’s FRIEND. Originally published in 1988, the novel is now available in English and allows us a view behind the curtain of the DPRK. The North Korean bestseller is not a propaganda text as one might expect. Rather than focusing on the political, the novel investigates the personal, which makes it easier for the reader to connect to the characters.

On her 10th wedding anniversary, Chae Sun Hee pleads for divorce. The judge she turns to, decides to investigate the case to better understand the failing of this marriage. A quite questionable approach but luckily everything is allowed in fiction 🙂 And so the judge’s meddling paves the way for a general reflection on love, marriage and individual identity. As he delves into the couple’s past, he compares their situation to his own marital life and that of other couples he knows. The result is a well-drawn study of a society that is shut-off from the Western world but whose emotional troubles are universal.

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William Sutcliffe

A moving comedy about what happens after the kids leave the house. Three suburban mothers feel neglected by their grown-up sons and reject the idea of being downgraded from “mother” to “other”. In an act of impulse they drive to New York to revive their mother-son relationships. Needless to say the sons are not overly delighted by this intervention. Hence begins a hilarious and heartrending tale about family, growing up and letting go. Sutcliffe is a master in portraying his characters. This makes it easy to relate to the sons, who are still trying to find their place in the world. The empty nester moms are just as likeable, you cannot help but love them with all their flaws and imperfections.

First published as Whatever Makes You Happy, OTHERHOOD is now a Netflix movie. Whether you have seen the movie or not, the book is a must read!

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The Interpreter from Java

Alfred Birney

Winner of the Libris Literature Prize, the Netherlands’ premier literary award, and of the Henriëtte Roland Holst Prize. THE INTERPRETER FROM JAVA is an extraordinary story of a father-son relationship that gives insight into a dark chapter of Dutch history.

Arto Nolan was a war criminal in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and fled to the Netherlands to avoid being executed as a traitor. In Holland, he married a Dutch woman, had five children and abused them nonstop. When his son Alan finds Arto’s memoirs, he discovers a horrible past he did not know about. Will he be able to find answers for his father’s violent outbursts? At first he is sceptic of his father’s account but his acid comments become less frequent as the novel develops. A fascinating book that will keep you on the hook from the very first page.

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The Desert Sky Before Us

Anne Valente

In her second novel, award-winning author Anne Valente takes us on a road trip through the American West. Two estranged sisters, Rhiannon and Billie, drive from Illinois to Utah to their mother’s funeral. On the way they need to complete a scavenger hunt their mother designed for them before her death. A journey which takes them on an unexpected emotional roller coaster, as each stop reveals a new secret. In the middle of the desert the two sisters reflect on the loss of their mother, relationships, careers and time. As the novel explores the personal drama of Rhiannon and Billie, it also takes the reader through an immense field of topics ranging from paleontology to NASCAR and falconry. Valente keeps the story a great pace, thus ensuring a fast and captivating read.

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The Perfect Fraud

Ellen LaCorte

Claire is a psychic, just as her mother and grandmother, but truth is that Claire is faking her supernatural powers. This changes when she has a heart-opening talk with her mother after her father’s death. On her way back home she meets Rena, who is distressed about her daughter’s mysterious stomach problems that no doctor has an explanation for. Can Claire help?

As both women get to tell the story from their perspective, we learn what each of them is going through. While Claire is trying to cope with her new-found powers, Rena is willing to try every medical and supernatural healing method to help her daughter. Each chapter reveals new details and thus guarantees tension throughout the whole novel. A page-turner with mystical edges that will blow your mind.

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Love in the Time of Affluenza

Shunali Khullar Shroff

A rom-com satire about Mumbai’s high society, Shroff’s debut novel is a delightful read that will take your mind off your daily routine. Get a glimpse into the drama of the super rich after the happily-ever-after moment has worn off. Natasha and Trisha have both been married for over a decade, consequently their marital love life leaves a lot to be desired. While Natasha plays her role as wife and mother of three without complaining, Trisha feels neglected and has thrown herself into an affair. Even though Natasha finds this quite shocking at first, she begins questioning her own situation.

Shroff examines the role of women before and after marriage/motherhood and raises questions about individual fulfillment and the right balance of family and career. Her observations are painfully accurate and utterly funny at the same time, making the book a perfect choice for a vacation read.

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The Cutting Room

Ashley Dyer

The writing duo Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper, aka Ashley Dyer, has published its second novel in the Lake/Carver detective series. With Murphy being a prize-winning novelist and Pepper a policing and forensics expert, the series is a must for those who like to get into the specifics of police procedurals and who do not mind if things get bloody.

In this gripping crime story the murderer kills men (interesting alternative to the usual serial killers of young women) to display their brains in a self-arranged art exhibition on a public street. Being told by the changing perspectives of the detectives Lake and Carver, as well as the so-called Ferryman, the book offers you a great insight of the characters’ motivations and perceptions. This is especially interesting in the case of the Ferryman who considers himself an artist whose art is destroyed by police investigation. As his fanbase grows on social media, his fans begin to sabotage the investigation in order to preserve the killer’s art. A truly enticing thriller that is fun and disturbing at the same time.

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Every day we receive thousands of new books and we carefully select the ones that we believe will interest you most. Our recipe? A great book should give food for thought, it should move, educate and fascinate the reader. A book is a door to another world, and it is while reading how we discover different perspectives and widen our horizon. A book can change a person but be no fool, because just as Edmund Wilson said, “no two persons ever read the same book.” That is another beauty of books. There is always room for interpretation, imagination and discussion. That is why we invite you to comment the books you read, recommend them to your friends and discuss them with fellow digital readers on 24symbols.

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If you are looking for books that have been previously presented in this article, have a look at our digital bookshelf 24symbols RECOMMENDS.