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The Maidens
2021 . Alex Michaelides

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London psychotherapist Mariana Andros, the protagonist of this stunning psychological thriller from Michaelides (The Silent Patient), suspends her patients' group therapy to rush to Cambridge University to comfort her niece, Zoe, whose best friend, Tara Hampton, has been murdered. Mariana soon focuses on the charming, handsome Edward Fosca, a Greek tragedy professor who has assembled a secret society of female students known as the Maidens that included Tara. Mariana's obsession to prove Edward guilty of murder is tinged with her all-consuming grief over the death of her husband, Sebastian, a year before, and her protectiveness of Zoe, whom she raised after the young woman's parents died. Her investigation intensifies when two more of the Maidens are murdered, but the police and Zoe dismiss her theories. The intelligent, cerebral plot finds contemporary parallels in Euripides's tragedies, Jacobean dramas such as The Duchess of Malfi, and Tennyson's poetry. The devastating ending shows just how little the troubled Mariana knows about the human psyche or herself. Michaelides is on a roll.
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Every Summer After
2022 . Carley Fortune

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Old wounds finally get a chance to heal in Fortune’s spectacular debut. At 13 years old, Persephone “Percy” Fraser spends the summer in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, aka “cottage country,” where she meets Sam and Charlie Florek. Percy and Sam form an immediate bond and, over the next six summers, fall deeply in love—until everything goes horribly wrong. Fortune teases out what happened during that last summer to tear Percy and Sam apart as Percy, now 30, returns to Barry’s Bay for the first time in 12 years to attend the funeral of Sam and Charlie’s mother, a woman she adored. She and Sam, who haven’t spoken since things ended, must finally confront their history and find the courage to accept responsibility for their mistakes. Alternating between the past and present, the story flawlessly conveys the lovers’ growth both together and apart, and the summery setting provides an idyllic backdrop to their path back to each other. Centered on redemption and forgiveness, this sweeping, heartfelt romance proves impossible to put down.
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The Dictionary of Lost Words
2020 . Pip Williams

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In Williams’s exuberant, meticulously researched debut, the daughter of a lexicographer devotes her life to an alternative dictionary. As a young child in 1880s Oxford, Esme Nicoll is enchanted by the “Scriptorium,” a shed behind their house where her father, Harry, works with a team to sort and select words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. When she finds the word “bondmaid” on a discarded slip and realizes the term refers to a female slave, Esme begins her own effort, the “Dictionary of Lost Words,” stowing slips of words deemed unfit for the OED in a chest belonging to their servant, Lizzie. In her teens, Esme becomes further obsessed with which words make the cut—decisions primarily made by men—and listens to women in the marketplace, returning with suggestions for Harry. The ensuing bildungsroman carries the reader at a rapid pace through Esme’s 20s, when she rubs shoulders with suffragettes, finds romance, and bonds with Lizzie while struggling to get her book of lost words printed. Though this sweeping effort takes some time to build momentum, the payoff is deeply satisfying. Williams’s feminist take on language will move readers.
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Mean Baby
2022 . Selma Blair

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Actor Blair revisits in this bold and candid debut her odyssey through addiction, trauma, and illness. Born in 1972 in Detroit, Blair was labeled as a “mean baby” for the “judgemental, scrutinizing” look she perpetually wore. As she reveals, this pained expression would seemingly foretell the fraught childhood and adolescence to come—from binge drinking throughout her youth to escape hurtful put-downs from her mother (“How can you be so beautiful from one angle and so ugly full face?”) to suffering depressive episodes after being sexually assaulted in ninth grade by her school’s dean. Later, after a suicide attempt in college, she was raped during a spring break weekend. Blair’s recollections are harrowing, but they affectingly set the stage for a story of triumphing over one’s afflictions as she chronicles her path to becoming an actor. After months of struggle in her early 20s, Blair landed an agent and went on to star in Cruel Intentions (1999) and Legally Blonde (2001) before having her first child and, years later, receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2018. Nevertheless, Blair, in her typical fashion, finds a way to transform her burden into an opportunity, sharing her experience of living with MS with astounding candor and grace. This compassionate and intelligent work will leave fans floored.
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Clive Cussler's Dark Vector
2022 . Graham Brown

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In the prologue of the routine 19th entry in the late Clive Cussler’s NUMA Files series (after 2021’s Fast Ice), Brown’s first solo contribution to the bestselling franchise, the Chinese treasure ship Silken Dragon sinks after a volcanic eruption in the South China Sea in 1808. In the present, series regulars Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are working with Yan-Li, a nautical historian from the People’s Republic of China, to find the Dragon when they receive a new assignment. A ship has gone missing, the Canberra Swift, and the NSA and the Pentagon are interested because the Swift was carrying powerful computers that were developed to operate underwater. Meanwhile, the leader of a criminal syndicate in Hong Kong captures Yan-Li and threatens to kill her mother and two children unless she helps him find the sunken Swift and retrieve the computers. The many different bad guys can be confusing, and Brown throws in a lot of background information about boats and salvaging that lends authenticity but otherwise adds nothing to the plot. This one is for Cussler die-hards only.
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Nightwork
2022 . Nora Roberts

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The latest romantic suspense novel from bestseller Roberts (Legacy) is a master class in the slow burn, blending heartrending emotion and thrills to deeply satisfying effect. Harry Booth spends his childhood becoming an exceptional thief to support his ailing mother and, after her death, builds a freewheeling and detached life for himself as a young man. He falls in love with Miranda Emerson during a stint in college in North Carolina, but threats from vicious criminal mastermind Carter LaPorte, whose attention Booth caught years earlier, force him to break Miranda’s heart to protect her. Twelve years later, Booth encounters Miranda again, and he realizes that to build a life with her, he’ll need to deal with LaPorte—permanently. The story delivers all the hallmarks that make Roberts so beloved: charming characters, alluring settings, unconventional chosen families, heartfelt romance, and riveting action. The unhurried pace allows for an organic accumulation of essential elements as intense emotion builds, but risks losing less patient readers. Those who trust Roberts’s sure hand to guide them along, however, will find themselves on an immersive and moving outing in the company of a beguiling thief. This is a treat.
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The Homewreckers
2022 . Mary Kay Andrews

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Andrews (The Newcomer) sparkles in this fast-paced tale of a reluctant TV star, a driven producer, and a long-dormant mystery on the Georgia coast. Widowed contractor Hattie Kavanaugh is in the middle of a plumbing disaster at the historic Savannah house she’s trying to flip when Mo Lopez, who creates reality shows for an HGTV-type network, stops by to pitch a show involving her project (“You’re passionate. You’re smart. You’ve got attitude.... And it doesn’t hurt that you’re damned attractive. The camera is going to love you,” he tells her). At first, Hattie wants nothing to do with it, but she reconsiders due to her bleak financial situation. She then purchases another fixer-upper, this one on nearby Tybee Island, and as she gets going on the demo work, with Mo and his camera crew at her side, she discovers in a wall a wallet that belonged to Lanier Ragan, her high school English teacher who went missing 17 years earlier. As she uncovers more clues about Lanier, it seems someone might be willing to kill to keep the house’s secrets. The author skillfully navigates the various threads—there’s sexual tension between Hattie and a slew of suitors, and a twisty third act involving Lanier’s fate. Andrews’s fans will eat this up.
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Something Wilder
2022 . Christina Lauren

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The bestselling author duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, writing as Lauren (The Unhoneymooners), returns with an unexpectedly dramatic contemporary romance. Lily Wilder was just 19 when she fell for Leo Grady, a college boy working on her father’s Wyoming ranch for the summer. Then came the terrible week when Leo abandoned her and her notorious treasure hunter father abruptly sold the ranch that Lily loved. Ten years later, Lily has rebuilt her life, using her late father’s notes and reputation to create a tourist expedition company leading city slickers on fake treasure hunts through the Utah wilderness. The business is barely breaking even when Leo turns up with three friends for a guys’ weekend, shocking them both. Despite long-held feeling of betrayal on both sides, their old chemistry is strong as ever, and when the treasure hunt they’re on turns out to be all too real, it will take Leo’s puzzle solving skills and Lily’s knowledge of the terrain to find the booty—but they’re not the only ones searching. The tone veers from lighthearted rom-com to high octane romantic suspense as the danger ramps up and Lauren packs the plot with quirky characters, vivid scenery, and sizzling sexual tension. This tense, poignant romance is another sure hit for Lauren.
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This Time Tomorrow
2022 . Emma Straub

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Straub (All Adults Here) offers a delightful take on time travel involving a woman and her famous father. As it opens, Alice Stern, a week shy of 40, is visiting her gravely ill father, Leonard, author of a bestselling time-travel novel, in the hospital. Her parents divorced when she was six, and she has remained extremely close to her father ever since. She lives alone in the Brooklyn apartment she’s had since she was 25, dates a guy named Matt, and works in the admissions office at the prestigious high school she attended. When she hears about former classmate Tommy Joffey’s son applying to the school, she remembers how they were close until he had sex with another girl at Alice’s 16th birthday party. Then Matt proposes, and she breaks up with him. After a big night of drinks on her birthday, she sleeps in the guardhouse on her father’s property. When she wakes up, it’s her 16th birthday in 1996. As a 40-year-old presenting as a teen, she sets out to reverse her father’s fate as well as change what happens with Tommy. She also learns Leonard can time-travel, too, a twist that Straub skillfully exploits without letting things get confusing, and which enriches the impact of love and loss on the characters. Readers will be captivated.
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The Office BFFs
2022 . Jenna Fischer,Angela Kinsey

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Fischer and Kinsey, costars of The Office and cohosts of the Office Ladies podcast, celebrate the show’s nine seasons and their 18-year friendship in this highly entertaining work, a “scrapbook, a BFF journal, and a love letter to fans.” Alongside a bounty of behind-the-scenes photos, Fischer and Kinsey opine about the cast’s unique bond (“When you watch The Office, you are watching a group of people who are having fun and becoming good friends”); credit producer Greg Daniels for allowing the cast the freedom to create their characters’ histories—including Fischer’s backstory for Pam’s prolonged engagement to her first fiancé Roy, who “spent their wedding money on a pair of Jet Skis with his brother”; and offer the delicious scoop on “Jam” (“Jim + Pam = JAM”): “From the moment we met,” Fischer recalls of her first read with costar John Krasinksi, “we shared the JAM brain.” From fleshing out the story of Angela’s cat, Sprinkles, to sharing humorous stories of their real and fake pregnancies and mutual admiration for Steve Carell, “the nicest man in show business,” Fischer and Kinsey leave no crumb of Dunder Mifflin lore uncovered in typical Office fashion: “We worked hard on it,” they write. “That’s what she said.” This is a must-read for fans.
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The Lioness
2022 . Chris Bohjalian

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In 1964, Hollywood star Katie Barstow and her Rodeo Drive gallerist husband head to Tanzania for a safari honeymoon, along with an assortment of family and friends, in this devastatingly cunning suspense novel from bestseller Bohjalian (Hour of the Witch). The group includes Katie’s psychologist brother and sister-in-law, an agent, a publicist, an actor and her screenwriter husband, and Katie’s costar in a scandalous film. Shepherded by a private guide in Land Rovers in the Serengeti, they take photos of giraffes, elephants, lions, and wildebeests, while a slew of porters and cooks provide such amenities as waterproof canvas bathtubs, a kerosene-powered ice maker, and a sufficient supply of gin and tonic. The idyll for Katie and crew comes to an end after they become the target of Russian mercenaries, who hold them captive in abandoned huts. Worse follows, including fatal snake bites. Bohjalian does a superb job of judiciously rolling out information of how past transgressions may have led to the heart-stopping episodes of chaos and carnage as the shocking, twist-filled plot builds up to the revelation of “the real reasons for the safari nightmare.” This brilliant whydunit is not to be missed.
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The Summer Place
2022 . Jennifer Weiner

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A family’s secrets and entanglements flare up during a Cape Cod wedding in this first-rate page-turner from Weiner (Big Summer). Ruby Danhauser, 22, plans to marry her boyfriend, Gabe, at her step-grandmother Veronica’s beach house, and the choice of venue sets off a cascade of consequences. Veronica, who’s thrilled to be hosting a large family gathering before putting the house on the market, frets about a plan for everyone to take DNA tests and talk about their origins, because there’s a good chance her children were conceived in an extramarital affair. Her daughter, Sarah, thinks Ruby is too young to get married, and can’t understand why her husband, Eli is acting distant and haunted. Turns out he once had an affair with Gabe’s mother. Meanwhile, Sarah’s widowed twin brother, Sam, is raising his stepson Connor after his wife, Julie, died. The characters’ various secrets are thrust into the light when they gather on the Cape for the wedding, with well-wrought twists and turns. Weiner is a master of emotionally complicated narratives, and her smart and witty writing is on full display here. This engrossing novel will please her legions of fans.
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Book of Night
2022 . Holly Black

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Bestselling YA author Black (The Cruel Prince) conjures a dark world filled with crime, betrayal, and power in her atmospheric adult fantasy debut. Shadows are a valuable commodity to be manipulated, altered, traded, and experimented on—and there are many dangerous players looking to harvest them. Growing up in this treacherous world, Charlie Hall learned the arts of conning and thievery from a young age, and there’s no denying her skill. At 28, however, Charlie’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow, using a bartending job to distract herself from the thrill of her old lifestyle. But when she reluctantly agrees to an odd job, a horrifying encounter reveals the return of a sinister individual from her past, plunging her into the dark underworld of shadow trading. Investigating its secrets leads her to discover a magic even darker than the shadows themselves. As the narrative shifts between past and present and the skeletons in Charlie’s closet come to light, she must reckon with her dysfunctional childhood—and with just how powerful shadows can be. The many mysteries keep the suspense sizzling as Charlie guides readers through this slippery world. Black’s adult fans and readers looking for dark urban fantasy will be thrilled.
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Book Lovers
2022 . Emily Henry

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A summer trip spurs unexpected self-discovery in bestseller Henry’s latest rom-com (after People We Meet on Vacation), a moving examination of love, belonging, and family. Since childhood, literary agent Nora Stephens has structured her life around taking care of her sister, Libby, four years her junior, so when an exhausted and—Nora fears—increasingly distant Libby suggests a monthlong trip to small-town Sunshine Falls, N.C., Nora eagerly agrees. As she wrestles with Libby’s irritability and strives to make her happy while trying to find her own equilibrium—including making a surprising connection with her professional nemesis, editor Charlie Lastra, a Sunshine Falls native—Nora must turn fresh eyes on old problems. Meanwhile, things heat up between Charlie and Nora, but the demands of their professional lives may keep them apart. Henry expertly captures the complexities of close but unbalanced familial relationships along with the distance between the dreams of youth and the realities of adulthood. As usual, her sharp eye for detail in establishing setting and creating empathetic characters engages the reader, and Nora’s well-shaded emotional struggles complement the steamy enemies-to-lovers plot and lovely scenery. This introspective romance is sure to please.
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City on Fire
2022 . Don Winslow

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Set in 1986, this impressive series launch from Edgar finalist Winslow (the Cartel trilogy) focuses on the follies, vendettas, and private ambitions of warring mobsters in Providence, R.I. Well-connected, rival mob families have managed to coexist in the city in relative harmony for decades, with aging racketeer John Murphy and his Irish clan controlling the docks in the upper southside, known as Dogtown, and Pasco Ferri’s Italian circle on Federal Hill ruling the trucking industry. Murphy’s son-in-law, conscientious Danny Ryan, whose father once controlled the Irish syndicate, frequently does jobs for the powerful Moretti brothers, Peter and Paulie. But when Danny’s arrogant, troublemaker brother, Liam, drunkenly molests Paulie’s new girlfriend, it tears the fabric of their association, triggering a vicious lasting feud that wrecks the balance of power irrevocably. With Pasco’s retirement imminent, the provocation is the perfect excuse for the Morettis to beat Liam almost to death and initiate a power grab that forces peacekeeper Danny into a desperate battle to protect those he loves. Winslow’s epic slow-burner, full of richly layered characters and tender personal struggles, bubbles to an intricate, exciting climax. Crime fiction fans will eagerly await the sequel.

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