Contemporary Fiction
The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 10.99 (Whispersync)

I wanted to love this follow-up to the surprising and delightful The Rosie Project. I'm not the first reviewer to note it's twice as long and half as good as the original. Heads up: Simsion's third novel, The Best of Adam Sharp, is due out May 2, 2017.

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The Life Intended

The Life Intended

The publisher calls this Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You: the premise is far-fetched, but it's supposed to be. Early in their marriage, Kate’s husband dies in a tragic accident. Twelve years later, Kate promises to marry a man who’s good on paper—but the night of their engagement, Kate vividly dreams about the life she would have had if her first husband had lived. The dreams keep returning, night after night. Harmel uses her strange jumping-off point to explore how suffering shapes our lives in surprising and even hopeful ways. Don't worry: it's not at all depressing, and Harmel's a great storyteller. Warmhearted and richly told.

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This is the story of an endearingly cranky bookseller and how his life changed when an unexpected package showed up at his bookshop. For devoted readers, this book is a wonderful reminder of the power of books, and how they can bring people together. But be warned: this book can explode your to-be-read list. At the beginning of each chapter, the narrator recommends a book—or sometimes, a short story—to his daughter, describing what it’s about and why she’ll enjoy it. (He’s a bookseller: he can’t help himself.)

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Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Gilmore Girls fans, listen up. Lorelai's voice comes through loud and clear in Graham's debut novel about a comedy actress struggling to make it in 1990s NYC. Franny Banks is nearing the end of her self-imposed three-year deadline to make it or get out of town, but the only calls she's getting are for peanut butter commercials and dish soap (unless you count that cute boy in her acting class). Of course, hilarity ensues—and part of the fun is wondering how much of the story is autobiographical.

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Attachments: A Novel

Attachments: A Novel

Can you fall in love with someone just by reading their email? For Lincoln O’Neill, the answer is YES. When he takes a new job as an “internet security officer” he doesn’t realize that means he’ll be reading people’s emails. But it’s the company's policy, and besides, all the employees know their emails are being monitored—at least in theory. Before long Lincoln has pored over countless personal emails between Jennifer and Beth, and he's sure of two things: he's in too deep, and it's too late to confess. It’s not as good as Eleanor & Park, but you couldn’t ask for a better beach read.

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The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Don Tillman can count his friends on one hand, has never been on a second date, and is clearly (to the reader, at least) on the autism spectrum. When a colleague surprises him by remarking he would make a wonderful husband, Don creates "the Wife Project," and embarks on a search to find his perfect partner. (To Don, that means creating the perfect questionnaire.) But when he meets a woman that's all wrong for him—at least on paper—he's forced to reconsider what he really wants, and what love really looks like (all while his scientific, orderly approach to life is getting wrecked). Fast, fun, and smart. Heads up for a few f-bombs and racy scenes.

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The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery

$10.492.95 (Audible Daily Deal)

Crichton departs from his usual routine with this true story of a game-changing robbery. “It is difficult,” Crichton says in his introduction, “to understand the extent to which the train robbery of 1855 shocked the sensibilities of Victorian England.” Crichton unpacks how the colorful cast of robbers very nearly pulled off the crime of the century and what it meant to 19th century London in this fast-paced account.

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Get Lucky

Get Lucky

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 4.49 (Whispersync)

An MMD Summer Reading Guide pick. After forwarding an inappropriate email to the whole company, Katherine gets fired, moves back to her hometown in disgrace, and starts her life over. This short and easy read has a familiar arc: girl in a mess, girl sees the light, girl finds happiness, yet its themes of sisterhood, forgiveness, and redemption make it worth your while. Recommended reading for Brené Brown fans. Add Audible narration for $4.49.

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What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

This novel had me pinned to the couch for two days (or it might have been just one). It reads like the breeziest chick lit, but has a surprising depth that makes me love it even more.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Semple cut her teeth writing for Mad About You and Arrested Development, and that snarky tone is all over this screwball satire. Bernadette Fox was once a cutting edge architect whose work earned her a MacArthur genius grant, but after her daughter is born, she quits, and moves to Seattle with her Microsoft rock star husband, slowing sinking into a town—and a life—she loathes. The format is (appropriately) a little wacky: Bernadette tells her side of the story, sure, but emails, school documents, police reports, and even an emergency room bill clue us in to what's happening. Eventually we figure out where Bernadette escaped to—and why. This feels similar to Gone Girl, but this easy read is lighter, fresher, and a lot more fun.

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The Time Quintet

The Time Quintet

L’Engle begins her groundbreaking science fiction-fantasy series with the famous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night,” and plunges you headlong into the world of the Murry family, who must travel through time to save the universe. The novels are interwoven, but each stands on its own.

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The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers

This title comes from the Victorian Era’s literal language of flowers, which they relied on to convey feelings rarely spoken of: ardor and friendship, jealousy and envy, infidelity and grief. We meet Victoria Jones on her eighteenth birthday: the day she is emancipated from foster care. Though fluent in the language of flowers, Victoria uses her flowers to communicate distrust and discord. But as she strikes out on her own, she comes to learn that the language of flowers is more complicated than she was taught to believe. This beautiful debut is easy-reading, yet has depth and feeling. Ultimately, it’s a redemption story. And who doesn't love a good redemption story?

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Starbridge Series

Starbridge Series

8 great series for your summer reading list | Modern Mrs Darcy

Let me begin by saying some of you will hate this series. But some of you will love it, so: the first 3 books--beginning with Glittering Images--take place in the Church of England in the early 1930s. The latter 3 take place in the 1960s. Each book stands on its own, and each is narrated by a different character. While This is a gritty series--for Christian fiction, at least.

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Lord Peter Books

Lord Peter Books

Sayers is one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century, and many of her mysteries center around Lord Peter Wimsey--the aristocratic detective who loves expensive clothes, fine wine, and British wit. There are 11 novels featuring Lord Peter, and several short story collections, but they need not be read in order. The first is Whose Body? (published 1923), in which Lord Peter investigates a naked dead body found in the bath, wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez.

My favorite is Gaudy Night (published 1935), a psychological thriller set at Oxford that features female protagonist Harriet Vane. Sayers is a mystery writer, but she approaches her topic delicately: though many of her novels feature murder plots, they’re not at all graphic.

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The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

In this classic series, 4 british children discover that a wardrobe in their London home opens into a magical world called Narnia, where animals talk, magic is real, and the evil White Witch duels the fierce lion Aslan. The Narnia books are loved by young and old alike. Age 7 and up. Older C. S. Lewis fans should check out his Space Trilogy, which is better suited for older teens and adults.

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Glittering Images

Glittering Images

$7.59$1.99

Some might try to categorize this as “religious fiction,” but that wouldn’t be quite right—unless your religious fiction typically comes with lots of romance, psychoanalysis, and sex. Glittering Images is the first book in the Starbridge series, set in the Church of England in the 1930s, and later, the 1960s. That may not sound like your idea of a page turner, but the characters are rich and engaging and the stories suck you in. Each of the series’ six books is self-contained, but is told from the perspective of a different character: taken together, they make a magnificent composite. Recommended by the likes of Anna Quindlen and Jacqueline Winspear. Now that's high praise.

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The Time in Between

The Time in Between

Fashion, romance, and ... espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker's assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. Translated from the Spanish, and the dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. Is it perfect? No way. But engrossing? Definitely.

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Calico Joe

Calico Joe

Grisham departs from the law to weave a story about rookie baseball player Joe Castle of Calico Rock, Arkansas, who’s called up to the Cubs in 1973 and thrills fans with an astonishing rookie season that breaks all the records--until it comes to a sudden end. This story is nothing like John Grisham’s legal thrillers: Calico Joe is short and straightforward, exploring relationships and redemption--all centered around the game of baseball.

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The Giver

The Giver

Welcome to the "ideal" future, where a perfect society embraces Sameness. But something sinister lurks beneath the surface of this tightly controlled community. At a much-anticipated ceremony, the resident twelve-year-olds are sorted into vocational assignments, Harry Potter-style. Jonas is skipped over, and the Chief Elder soon reveals why: instead of receiving a typical assignment, Jonas has been chosen to be the next receiver of memory. When he begins his training with the old man known as The Giver, he discovers books, colors, snow, and love—and he begins to understand what his people lost when they gave away their memories. The star-studded lineup for the movie includes Jeff Bridges, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes, and Meryl Streep. Coming to theaters August 15.

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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

In April 1962, an American actress mysteriously arrives by boat to fictional Porto Vorgogna, a tiny pin prick of a town. Dee is gorgeous, alone, and dying. She's been exiled here from the set of Cleopatra, the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film that remains one of the most expensive and scandal-ridden movies ever made. As the story bounces back and forth between present-day Hollywood and the golden era of film, we discover why a Hollywood power player sent her away—and what happens next. Containing scenes from plays both real and not, the first chapter of a novel, a movie pitch, and someone else’s memoir. It's going to be breathtaking on the big screen. Release date TBD.

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The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook

$9.99$2.99

Don’t worry if you’ve seen the movie already; Quick’s original version is the same, but different. The story begins with Pat coming home from a long stay in a mental hospital, hoping to end Apart Time with his estranged wife. Pat tells his own story, giving the reader a breathtaking glimpse into the nuances of mental illness, while examining the complexities of marriage and relationships, the gradations of messed-up-ness, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Touching, quirky, hopeful.

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Gone Girl

Gone Girl

This novel is a first-rate psychological thriller. Amy Dunne disappears on the morning of her 5th wedding anniversary, and of course her husband Nick is a prime suspect. Soon every couple in their small North Carolina town is wondering how well they really know the one they love.

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Evensong

Evensong

What happens when we get the thing we desire most in life—only to find that it might destroy us? That's the question Margaret faces at the opening of Evensong. This tale, set in the mountains of North Carolina, faithfully examines marriage and vocation and calling through the eyes of Margaret, a thirtysomething Episcopal priest, who is forced to finally confront matters when three unexpected and—let's face it—unwelcome guests arrive in her sleepy North Carolina mountain town of High Balsam. This book, first published in 1999, has the fingerprints of the millennium all over it. If you love it, go back and read its predecessor, Father Melancholy's Daughter.

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The Invention Of Wings

The Invention Of Wings

Charleston, November 1803. Sarah Grimké turns 11. Her birthday gift? A slave named Hetty ("Handful"). This sweeping novel tells the story—in alternating voices—of real-life abolitionist Sarah Grimké and the wholly imagined slave Handful through several decades and up and down the East Coast during a tumultuous time in American history. A can’t miss for fans of The Help or Monk Kidd’s first hit, The Secret Life of Bees. An engaging mix of fact and fiction.

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Honeymoon In Paris: A Novella

Honeymoon In Paris: A Novella

If you're impatiently waiting for Moyes's next novel, One Plus One, to drop on July 1, let this novella tide you over. Mirroring the back-and-forth format of The Girl You Left Behind, this prequel follows the two couples on their respective Parisian honeymoons, which are alternately disastrous and delightful: Liv and David in 2002, Sophie and Édouard in 1912. This book isn't as challenging as its sequel, making it perfect reading for a lazy summer afternoon.

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Eve in Hollywood

Eve in Hollywood

Rules of Civility dazzled with its glittering, glamorous depiction of New York circa 1938 and characters whose lives turn on one impulsive decision. Towles's Gatsby-esque novel surprised with shocking plot twists, including the unforgettable ending. Eve in Hollywood picks up exactly where Rules left off (and if you haven't read it yet, start there). In this novella—a series of short takes, each in a different voice—we see how Eve impacts everyone she meets in Old Hollywood, in potentially life-changing encounters. Fast, fun, and incredibly well-written.

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The Lost Husband

The Lost Husband

Center's novels read as easy as the fluffiest chick lit, but they run surprisingly deep, and are emotionally wise. Libby is attempting to rebuild her life, and that of her two kids, after her husband died in a car crash two years ago. But she's finally had enough of living with her crazy mother, and moves out to the Texas hill country to try out a new life on her crazy Aunt Jean's goat farm. This short and easy read has a familiar arc: girl in a mess, girl sees the light, girl finds happiness, yet its themes of family, forgiveness, and redemption make it worth your while. Recommended reading for Brené Brown fans.

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The Funeral Dress

The Funeral Dress

$9.99$1.99

Skip the publisher's description on this one: you'll enjoy it more if you come to it without expectations. But I will say this: Emmalee Bullard is a young, unwed mother who is all alone in the world, and has suffered one hard knock after another. Just when she thinks she's found a way out, something tragic happens, dashing Emmalee's hopes—possibly forever. This story about the the resilience of women and female friendship is moving, heartwarming, and Southern to its core. For fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Sue Monk Kidd.

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Bel Canto

Bel Canto

$23.62$3.95

This oddly structured pageturner from Nashvillian Ann Patchett fuses opera and a hostage crisis–and surprisingly, it works. Japanese businessman and opera buff Katsumi Hosokawa is celebrating his birthday in an unnamed South American country, in the company of diplomats, government officials, and businessman. Mr. Hosokawa knows he's being shaken down for a large donation, but he can't resist attending, because the South Americans have secured a performance by legendary soprano Roxanne Coss. The country's president is unable to attend (he's much too interested in what happens on his favorite soap opera on Tuesday nights), and his fixation spares him from being taken hostage when the militant group La Familia storms the gathering. Intriguing, highly readable, and loosely based on a true story.

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Everyone Is Beautiful

Everyone Is Beautiful

Woman has kids, woman pours herself into kids, woman feels like she’s lost herself because her life feels like it’s all about the kids. It’s a story we usually encounter in real life, not fiction. But not this time. Book club highlight: how Center does (or doesn’t) do justice to the stay-at-home mom.

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