Authors worth binge reading

Penny's mysteries are alternately centered in the cozy village of Three Pines and the wider world. For this excellent follow-up to the game-changing Bury Your Dead, Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines to solve a murder that's intimately tied to the world of fine art. The story is built around the concept of chiaroscuro—the contrast between dark and light that's significant in some artists' works, and in all our natures. It may sound obtuse, but Penny probes with a light hand. It works.
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Sweet, sparkly, and thoroughly Southern. Like all the women in her family, Claire Waverley possesses a unique magic: she uses edible flowers to prepare foods that affect the eater in “curious ways.” Years ago, Claire’s sister fled town—and her Waverley gift—but she discovers her own sort of magic when she returns. What to say about this book? The romance verges on twee, the magic is impossible, but put them together and it sings. If you’re not down with supernatural food or a magical apple tree, skip this one—but you should know how many readers call this “a wonderful surprise.” Allen’s long-anticipated next novel, Other Birds, is due out August 30. Open-ish door. For fans of Emily Henry’s Book Lovers and Maria de los Santos’s Love Walked In.
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There was never a question I'd continue with the Inspector Gamache series (although I will say that book 3 wasn't my favorite) but the series moves to the next level in this sixth installment, in which Penny finally brings a plotline she's only hinted at in previous books front and center, and it is riveting.
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Allen wrote Garden Spells in 2007, and eight whole years later—in January 2015—she published this sequel because readers kept asking her what happened next? and she was eager to revisit the Waverly sisters. Not quite as enchanting as Garden Spells, but still worth reading.
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Cornelia is a hopeless romantic, obsessed with the epic love stories portrayed in classic films, but floundering in her own life. Everything changes the day a Cary Grant look-alike walks through the door of the coffee shop she manages. Of course she falls for him, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with his 11-year-old daughter. You can’t help but cheer for these characters as they navigate the tricky waters of friendship, heartbreak, and love. De los Santos is a poet by training, and it shows in her prose. If you love this, good news: there’s a sequel.
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Sparkly Southern women, screwed-up family relationships, and magical realism mark this novel. One woman's unique magic is that the specific book she needs in her life right then mysteriously appears—on her bedside table, on her desk at work, in her handbag. That's enough to win me over.
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This is the standalone sequel to Love Walked In, but go ahead and read them in order. (Belong to Me has higher ratings on Goodreads, but I enjoyed Love Walked In more. Though comfortably predictable and a little too feel-good for some people's taste, it's well-written, intelligent, and thoroughly readable. This would make a great beach read.
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Pen, Will, and Cat met ("met cute," in fact) during their first week of college and were inseparable during their years on campus. After graduation, they hated the thought of their amazing friendship slowly fading, so they decided to end it. Years go by with no contact, until Pen receives a strange email from Cat begging her to meet her at their college reunion. She can't help but say yes, and that's when their journey begins.
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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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Moriarty’s particular talent is to write novels that read like the fluffiest fluff … but have a depth that will stay with you long after you turn the last page, thanks to her sharp insights into human nature. This story follows three moms who have children in the same kindergarten class in an idyllic Australian seaside community. Parents behaving badly provide plenty of fodder for wicked humor. This is Moriarty at her finest, right up there with What Alice Forgot. Darkly comic: this is summer reading with an edge.
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This story about three Australian women whose lives intersect in unexpected ways is packed full of secrets. Moriarty addressed dark topics here, but her tone remains light and witty, and she manages to weave in interesting notes—the Berlin wall, the myth of Pandora, the Snow White fairy tale. I loved this on audio: the Australian accent was delightful.
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This Gothic mystery is slow to build but those who persevere will be rewarded. The plot flips back and forth between World War II and the 1990s, but not in the way you'd expect. The setting is a crumbling old castle, which contributes to the story's creepy (but not quite scary) feel. Some readers think this is Morton's best work.
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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 that keeps getting better. Great on audio.
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If the Brothers Grimm wrote The Secret Garden, this is what it would have been like. This sprawling family saga gets a little unwieldy at times, but I can't say I minded much. History, fairy tale, family drama, and Gothic mystery rolled into one.
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Any Morton novel would make a great summer read, but The Secret Keeper is her finest. When she was 16, Laurel witnessed a violent crime involving her mother, Dorothy. The family hushed it up, and Laurel hasn't spoken of it since. Now, fifty years later, Dorothy is dying, and Laurel is determined to unravel the secret while there's still time. As Laurel pursues her clues, the story flips back and forth in time between today and the years before and during World War II, including the London Blitz, which Morton recreates so vividly you can almost hear the bombs dropping. Filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end.
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