Cinder

Cinder

Each book in the YA fantasy series The Lunar Chronicles puts a new spin on an old fairy tale. In this first installment, Cinderella becomes a kickass mechanic, despised by her mother and stepsisters because she’s a cyborg. Admittedly, it sounds cheesy, but it works. Though it’s clear where the story is headed, spotting the imaginative ways Meyer reinvents the old fairy tale keeps the reader turning the pages. Fresh, fun, surprising, and compulsively readable. More info →
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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)

In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series (of 11 books to date) that keeps getting better. For fans of Jacqueline Winspear. Great on audio. More info →
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The Likeness

The Likeness

In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taught psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end. More info →
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The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoo’s Calling

In this murder mystery, British detective Cormoran Strike and his trusty sidekick Robin Ellacott investigate a supermodel's suspicious suicide. I found the plot compellingly twisty, the characters interesting, the rapport between the two investigators my favorite part. For Harry Potter fans, there's good news and bad news: Rowling (under the pseudonym Galbraith) still has the touch, but there is nothing to remind you of Harry in these stories. The third (and grizzliest) book Career of Evil, published October 20, 2015, ended on a massive cliffhanger, and readers are impatiently awaiting book 4, which Rowling promises will begin right where she left us hanging. First-rate murder mysteries; highly recommended for Louise Penny fans. More info →
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The Gilded Years

The Gilded Years

The publisher calls this Passing meets The House of Mirth. Tanabe's new historical novel is based on the fascinating true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black women to graduate from Vassar College, who passed as white to gain admittance. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Anita's life becomes a lot more exciting—and a lot more dangerous—when her new assigned roommate belongs to one of New York City's most prominent families, and drags Anita into a new and glamorous world. But nothing means more to Anita than Vassar: she must keep her secret or she'll be expelled. As she desperately tries to straddle two worlds, she edges ever closer to losing not only her education, but the people she loves most. Publication date June 7 2016. More info →
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The Knockoff: A Novel

The Knockoff: A Novel

Imagine a mashup of The Devil Wears Prada and In Good Company . The story is heavily inspired by All About Eve (which you must watch immediately if you never have): when 42-year-old Glossy magazine editor Imogen Tate returns from a 6-month sabbatical, she finds that her fill-in, a twenty-something Harvard Business School grad, is actively trying to usurp her position—permanently. (And worse—turn the magazine into an app!) Not great literature, but tons of fun. More info →
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All the Missing Girls

All the Missing Girls

This nail-biter unravels the story of two girls who disappeared from the same tiny North Carolina town a decade apart. Ten years ago Nicolette Farrell left her hometown for good after her best friend vanished without a trace. She was never going back, but when she gets the call that her dad is sick she reluctantly heads home. Shortly after her arrival another girl vanishes—right after she'd been asking too many questions about the first girl's disappearance. The real twist here is the interesting format: after a short prologue, the story is told in reverse, starting with day 15 of the mystery and workings backwards to day 1. This would feel like a cheap trick if done poorly but it wasn't, and I loved it. If you need characters you can root for, this isn't the book for you. But if you love a creepy mystery in an evocative setting that is practically a character in its own right, bump this to the top of your list. A dark kind of fun. Publication date June 28 2016. More info →
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A Share in Death

A Share in Death

If you're all caught up on Penny and Galbraith novels, try this engaging series of Scotland Yard police procedurals. This first installment reminds me of Dorothy Sayers: detective Duncan Kincaid happens to be vacationing at his posh cousin's time share when a body is found in the resort pool. The local detectives rule suicide, but Kincaid is certain there's more to the story. As the series progressives, the police work is only half the content: Crombie devotes considerable ink to her detectives' personal dramas and romantic entanglements as well. Get caught up this summer so you're ready for book #17 Garden of Lamentations, though its release date has (sniff) been pushed back to February 17, 2016. Highly recommended for mystery-loving Anglophiles. More info →
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Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

This is the fourth installment of the Jane Austen Project, which invites contemporary authors to rework Jane Austen's novels for modern times, and my hands-down favorite. Sittenfeld is no Jane Austen, but she's okay with that: her snappy writing and spirit of playfulness make this such good fun for Jane Austen fans, if you're willing to go with it. (Think what 10 Things I Hate About You did with The Taming of the Shrew. Our modern tale is set in Cincinnati, where Lizzie is re-cast as an NYC-based magazine editor, Jane is a yoga instructor nearing 40, Darcy is a snooty brain surgeon, and Bingley is an ER doctor turned star of the reality show "Eligible," (which, in a running gag, all the characters watch but pretend not to). If you're revolted at the idea of on-screen sex in an Austen remake, or Darcy and Liz spewing profanity, this is NOT for you. The purists will need their smelling salts. Published April 19 2016. More info →
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The Year We Turned Forty

The Year We Turned Forty

If you could repeat one year of your life, would you do it—and what would you do differently? That fun thought experiment becomes reality in this new novel. Thanks to a bit of Vegas birthday magic, three friends have the opportunity to go back ... to the year they turned 40, the year each woman made a mistake that may have ruined her life. If you have a hard time suspending belief or if you can't stand to watch characters sabotage themselves, keep moving. But if you're intrigued by this imaginative way to re-frame a life, and encouraged by watching fictional friends support each other through the tough and the crazy, this one's for you. A tad predictable at times, but charming and heartening. Pair this with What Alice Forgot and Maybe in Another Life for a fantastic book flight. Published April 26 2016. More info →
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Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred Grapes

I enjoyed this one from page 1: the storytelling is excellent, and the author explored so many interesting themes about relationships. (But I have complicated feelings about how those relationships resolve—which would make this a fantastic book club novel.) The story is set at a small family vineyard in Sonoma County; the title comes from the number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine. Add Audible narration for $11.49. More info →
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One True Loves

One True Loves

It's Cast Away, but in this version Tom Hanks comes home just before the wedding. Emma Blair married her high school sweetheart Jesse in her twenties: they traveled the world together and were blissfully happy—until Jesse's helicopter disappeared over the Pacific. Three years later, she's moved back home, made a new life for herself, and even found love again with a man she plans to marry. But then she gets a call that Jesse's been found, and she's suddenly forced to choose between the husband she thought was gone forever and the man who's helped her learn to live again. Reid deftly explores how our wrenching experiences shape us ... and then we have to live with the results. Until she ties it up with a bow, so if neat and tidy resolutions make you crazy, this isn't for you. A fun bonus for booklovers is the family bookstore that features prominently in the story. Publication date June 7 2016. More info →
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Before the Fall

Before the Fall

Hawley was a successful screenwriter (best known for Fargo long before he was a novelist, and in his fifth novel he proves again he knows how to craft a premise and build suspense. The story opens on a foggy summer night on Martha's Vineyard. Scott Burroughs is a starving artist who catches a last-minute ride on a private jet carrying ten privileged passengers back to New York City. Sixteen minutes into the flight, the plane crashes into the ocean, killing all aboard save Burroughs and a 4-year-old boy he rescues by swimming miles to safety. In alternating chapters we explore what happened before, and what happened after, as we unravel the mystery of why the plane went down. Publication date May 31 2016. More info →
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The Nest

The Nest

This is that rare bird: a literary page-turner. In this wonderfully written, multi-layered, fast-moving novel, Sweeney tells the story of the dysfunctional Plumb family. When the eldest blows their collective inheritance (by crashing someone else's Porsche, while drunk and high, direly injuring the 19-year-old waitress who was not his wife), the four Plumb siblings are forced to actually communicate for the first time in ages. They're also forced to grow up, and watching that painful process unfold on the page is highly entertaining (and a little cringe-worthy). I loved this for its depth, complexity, and supremely satisfying ending, but if you need characters you can root for, this isn't the book for you. Strongly reminiscent of Rules of Civility. For what it's worth, Amy Poehler and Ellie Kemper loved it. Heads up for language and racy content: I'd like to give this novel an 8-line edit. Published March 22 2016. More info →
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The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy

I NEVER would have read this if a trusted bookseller hadn't pressed it into my hands and said READ IT: the plot summary would have made me put it right down. But it's one of my favorites of the year. I went into this novel knowing nothing and I liked it that way, so I'll just say Wood explores themes of love, loss, and identity through a quirky 11-year-old boy who loves making lists, a wily 104-year-old woman, an absentee father, a Boy Scout project, and the Guiness Book of World Records. Perfect for fans of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove. More info →
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Jane Steele

Jane Steele

Jane Eyre lovers, you can relax: while Faye—and her heroine, Jane Steele—draw serious inspiration from Jane Eyre, It draws serious inspiration from Brontë's classic, it's not a retelling. Instead, it's delightfully meta: our titular narrator tells us the inspiration to write down her story came from "the most riveting book titled Jane Eyre." This Jane is a wise-cracking, whipsmart, unconventional young woman who rebels against Victorian convention, but she has a heart of gold. Though not a retelling, there are numerous winks to the original novel: Jane becomes a governess, there's a stand-in for Mr. Rochester, and of course, something important is locked away in an attic. Perfect for readers who love plucky Victorian heroines, like you'd find in Deanna Raybourn novels. Published March 22 2016. More info →
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Before We Visit the Goddess

Before We Visit the Goddess

I loved this book, which was nothing at all what I expected. The novel tracks three generations of Indian women and their fraught relationships. The title comes from a chance encounter one of these women has with a stranger, which is fitting because my favorite parts of the story deal with the small moments that change the course of a person's life, and the unlikely friendships that do the same. This is a wonderful, beautiful, and sad book, and I've been recommending it like crazy. Published April 19 2016. More info →
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Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House

Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House

This thrilling novel is a dream come true for fans of The Kitchen House but it stands just fine on its own. Jamie Pyke is a man with a dangerous secret. He's been living far from his plantation home in the relative safety of Philadelphia, but when the son of a dear friend is captured by slave traders and sold down to Virginia, he risks everything to set off in pursuit of him. Grissom's rich characters practically leap off the page. Pair with The Gilded Years for a fascinating combo. Published April 5 2016. More info →
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Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Because Cleave tackles heavy-hitting subjects, this is the first of his novels I've had the guts to try. I knew I had to read this when my husband (who beat me to it) couldn't stop sharing Cleave's well-turned sentences aloud. There have been so many WWII novels of late; this tale of four young, warm, wise-cracking friends in wartime England is a standout in the genre. Through their characters, Cleave throws issues of wartime morality, race, and class into sharp relief. This is for you if you love a great story and admire a beautifully-rendered, wry turn of phrase. Think of this as the witty but no less devastating companion to All the Light We Cannot See. Publication date May 3 2016. More info →
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​The Madwoman Upstairs

​The Madwoman Upstairs

Part campus novel, part literary treasure hunt. A mysterious development sets an Oxford student on the chase to unraveling the mysteries of the Brontë family, as well as the heroine's own. If you like your heroines quick-witted and cantankerous, and if you're fascinated by the story behind the story, this is for you. Reminiscent of A. S. Byatt's Possession. Required reading for fans of Charlie Lovett's 2014 literary escapadeThe Bookman's Tale. It also has echoes of A. S. Byatt's Possession. Pair with Jane Steele, of course, and if your book club wants to revisit Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights while you're at it, so much the better. Publication date March 1 2016. More info →
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Flight of Dreams

Flight of Dreams

I loved Lawhon's historical fiction debut The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and was eager to read her next work. Her second novel puts an interesting spin on a tragic historical event: the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. This entertaining, suspenseful tale is told from multiple points of view and is based on the lives of real characters. The enigmatic setting—aboard the luxurious yet claustrophobic airship—captures your imagination. My husband surprised me by loving this. For fans of Agatha Christie and Kate Morton. Publication date February 23, 2016. More info →
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Last Ride to Graceland

Last Ride to Graceland

Talk about the ultimate road trip: when blues musician Corey Ainsworth stumbles upon a relic that makes her question her parentage, she hits the road in Elvis's car on a winding journey through the deep south and her own tangled family history. It's a little bit Elizabethtown, a little bit Walk the Line. If you (or your mother) have ever been obsessed with the king, this is for you. Recommended reading for Joshilyn Jackson fans. Publication date May 24 2016. More info →
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Lab Girl

Lab Girl

You've probably never heard the words "science memoir" and "sparkle" in the same sentence before, but this genre-busting tale from one of TIME magazine’s "100 Most Influential People" absolutely does. In alternating chapters, Jahren tells the story of her own development—life, career, love, friendship, and always, always budgetary woes—and a little about her surprisingly fascinating (well, to non-paleobotanists) field of research. It's a terrific read, and as a bonus it's completely inspiring to get this inside look at the life someone who's doggedly pursuing the work she loves, convention be damned. For fans of Annie Dillard, Michael Pollan, and Mary Roach. Add Audible narration for $12.99. More info →
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The Forgetting Time

The Forgetting Time

Janie knows her 4-year-old son Noah is not like other children. He's terrified of water. He asks for his "other mother." And he always, always wants to go home—even when he's in his very own bed. But one night, thanks to a late-night bourbon-fueled internet session, Janie stumbles upon the work of an eccentric scientist, and begins to confront the possibility that her precious son not only lived a previous life, he'd been murdered in it. The plot resists simplistic solutions and easy answers which keeps you glued to the page. If you have a friend or loved one obsessed with reincarnation, this book is obviously for you—but you don't have to buy the premise to find this a satisfying read. Published February 2 2016. More info →
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Magic and Loss
The Light of the World: A Memoir

The Light of the World: A Memoir

In Alexander's words: "The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story." The author's husband died just four days after his fiftieth birthday. A few years later, Alexander looks back on their life together, their love, and the impact of that loss in her life. The author is a poetry professor at Yale, which is obvious in the story's richness and language. Her source material is fantastic: Alexander is an American, born in Harlem. Her husband was born in Eritrea, in East Africa, and came to New Haven as a refugee from war. Both were artists—that’s his painting on the cover of the book—and their home sounds like this amazing, vibrant, multicultural extravaganza with food and friends and music and art. I could barely put this down, and while sad, it exudes joy. Heads up for audiophiles: Alexander's narration of her own work is magnificent. Published April 15 2015. More info →
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Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Tippett calls herself a person who listens for a living: this is her distillation of several decades worth of wisdom gleaned from probing interviews with a wide array of guests. She hones in on five "raw materials" for living well: words, flesh, love, faith, and hope, and hopefully explores how they can be channeled toward compassion, forgiveness, and love. If it all sounds a bit esoteric, you can trust that the same curiosity that makes her show On Being so addictive serves her well in this format. Deep, thoughtful, profound: Even if you're the sort who usually finishes a book in a few days' time, this would be wonderful read a few pages a day, all summer long. Pair with The Light of the World. Published April 5 2016. More info →
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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

This inspirational memoir's epigraph bears quotes from Maya Angelou and Christina from Grey's Anatomy, which gives you a good idea of what you'll find inside. Rhimes is the queen of Thursday night tv, creating and producing smash hits like Grey's and Scandal. This time she's telling her own story of how her sister issued her a six-word wake-up call—You never say yes to anything—and the year of YES that followed. I saw parts of myself all over this and absolutely loved the last chapter when the author discovers what her big year was really about. Heads up for audio lovers: Rhimes reads her own work for the audio version. Published November 10 2015. More info →
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I Let You Go

I Let You Go

In a season where every suspense novel is expected to have a "shocking plot twist!" this tightly-crafted novel makes your jaw drop time and again, without feeling gimmicky or manipulative. I was stunned as I slowly came to see that the story wasn't about what I thought it was about at all. On a dark, rainy night, a mother lets go of her son's hand for just an instant. The devastating accident sets the plot in motion. Part police procedural, part domestic suspense, with the ring of authenticity, no doubt thanks to Mackintosh's own 12 years as a police officer. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book. (Sensitive themes ahead, so mind your triggers.) More info →
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No One Knows

No One Knows

If you love a good edge-of-your-seat thriller, this one's for you. Five years after Aubrey Hamilton's husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee, she glimpses someone that makes her wonder if he might be still alive, and if she ever knew him at all. Ellison flips back and forth between the past and present to slowly reveal what went wrong, and what might happen next. The real fun is in puzzling out who's lying, and why. It's not a perfect novel but it's such a good ride. A real brain bender, perfect for Mary Kubica fans. Take note: this is one of the books I wanted to give the 8-line edit treatment. Published March 22 2016. More info →
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Among the Ten Thousand Things