We’ve all endured the same things this past year—the lockdowns and losses, the highs and lows. By now I’m sure most of us are tired of being at home, have experienced the winter blues, and can’t wait to hug our loved ones again. It may be difficult to see the sunny side of things when the skies are gray, but I hope that these reads comfort you with the knowledge that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last tumultuous 12 months, it’s that things may not always turn out as planned, and we may not always get what we want, but somehow books have a way of reaching us at the right moment, giving us what we need.
Summers are meant to be relaxing, but that won’t be the case for Bridget, a cellist, in this romantic and humorous story. Although initially expecting to enjoy her Connecticut summer home with her boyfriend, Sterling, his breakup email leaves Bridget single, which is a perfect moment for her twenty-something-year-old twins to arrive back home, bringing with them love and drama respectively. Plus, Bridget’s elderly father has found himself engaged to be married again and looking to host a wedding on her property. Bridget winds up spending a lot of her summer with her best friend, Will, who knows her better than anyone, and who also happens to form 2/3 of a musical group with her. As they prepare to play at her father’s wedding, Bridget and Will search for a new member of the Forsythe Trio to salvage some sense of normalcy. MUSICAL CHAIRS is a heartwarming and lighthearted testament to family life and the things we do for love. Plus, it brings together a fun host of chaotic characters, who’ll make you feel like your social life is all back to normal.
“A fiercely funny tale of family, friendship, and later-in-life love.” —People
“Poeppel has created a story that is well thought out, well plotted, well written, and fully developed. A delightful novel that celebrates the messiness and joy to be found in real life.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A hilariously heartfelt, witty novel.” —Woman’s World
The “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six) author of Limelight and Small Admissions returns with a hilarious and heartfelt new novel about a perfectly imperfect summer of love, secrets, and second chances.
Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.
Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.
Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.
With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity.
In this spin-off of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Lauren Weisberger reintroduces Miranda Priestly’s beloved ex-assistant Emily Charlton, who finds herself far from the glamour of New York City or LA, and instead among the wealthy moms of Greenwich, Connecticut. Still processing the reality of her own falloff, Charlton becomes an image consultant for Karolina Hartwell, the former supermodel wife of a state senator. Hartwell has been unjustly arrested and her own husband has created a smear campaign against her, causing her to become the black sheep of Greenwich moms. While Greenwich is the last place Emily wants to be, the special request called in by a mutual friend makes it difficult to say no. As the trio put their heads together to help Karolina’s image, the secrets that begin to unravel result in an unlikely and beautiful friendship, reminding us that we can be wrong to judge based on first impressions.
Hubert Bird has spent his retirement in the way most of us have spent our lives in the last year—in isolation. His reclusive lifestyle is a secret he’s long kept, pacifying his daughter, during her weekly phone calls, with lies about a long list of friends and the loads of fun he is having. Unlike the rest of us, Bird isn’t looking to interact with the world outside. But when his lies are threatened to be exposed with the prospect of a visit, and a new neighbor moves to town, Bird must confront the world that he has long shut out. A heartfelt and timely story about the power of love and human connection across race, age, and differences, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE offers a glimpse into the future for us when we can finally emerge from isolation and meet again. US Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Margery Benson’s father believed in the fantastic, but she never had a chance to find out why. As far as she can recall, ever since the fateful day that Reverend Benson showed her a book of magical creatures when she was 10, Margery’s life has never been the same. Now, 36 years later, Miss Benson is desperate and jaded in England. Out of a job and fleeing the police, she is determined to reignite her childhood dream and embark on an adventure to find the legendary golden beetle of New Caledonia. As Miss Benson takes a leap of faith, she suddenly finds herself aboard a ship with a peculiar woman and the ghost of her past. A quirky, funny story, MISS BENSON’s BEETLE is a nod to friendships and the pursuit of long forgotten dreams.
Like most of us at the moment, Emmie Blue and Lucas Moreau have a long-distance friendship. In the unlikeliest of ways, their friendship began when Emmie, age sixteen, released a red balloon into the sky in England, with her name, email address, and a secret message. Standing on a beach in France, Lucas caught it and responded. Fourteen years later Emmie is in love with Lucas and has neglected all her other relationships in the hopes that he feels the same way about her. All hope soon comes crashing down, however, when Lucas asks her to be his “best woman” at his wedding. Forced to pick up the pieces of her broken heart, Emmie must re-evaluate her priorities and what she thinks she knows about love, life, and relationships.
In this charming and poignant novel that “oozes charm and wit and speaks beautifully about friendship and love, and the differences between the two” (Laura Pearson, author of I Wanted You to Know), teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it. But fourteen years later, everything Emmie has planned is up in the air.
At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached address, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.
Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?
Filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue “beautifully captures the heartache and frustrations of carrying our teenaged selves with us wherever we go” (Anstey Harris, author of Goodbye Paris) that is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
In this THE UNHONEYMOONERS meets THE HATING GAME, Henley Evans and Graeme Crawford-Collins are archnemeses, with their closest interaction involving passive-aggressive email threads. Henley is on the road to self-improvement, working hard by day at her cruise line job and taking MBA classes at night, all with the hopes of getting that promotion she’s long wanted. Everything else in her life takes a back seat, so when she hears that Graeme, the remote social media manager, is also up for the position, annoyed is an understatement. Now head-to-head to prove their worthiness, the two embark on a ship to the Galápagos islands to draft a proposal on how to increase bookings. Suddenly spending time with each other in person, Henley begins to realize perhaps she misjudged Graeme, and just maybe, she might even like him. This friends-to-enemies love story is a charmer that will transport you to a summer-filled beach vacation.
The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.
If love were a science, professor of genetics Don Tillman would be a guru. An awkward analytical man, Tillman has never had much luck with love or friendships. However, he has always been very good at problem-solving. As a result, Tillman has approached the problem of his single status through an evidenced-based rational plan and embarked on the Wife Project to find the perfect partner based on a series of criteria. Enter Rosie Jarman, who checks off none of the boxes on his list. When she taps Don for help on a quest to find her biological father, he reserves any hope. However, as they spend more time together, Don begins to realize there is more to Rosie than he can see on paper. THE ROSIE PROJECT takes us on a whirlwind romance that shows us that true love is never planned.
The international bestselling romantic comedy “bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and…humor,” (Entertainment Weekly) featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love.
The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.
Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.
Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut “navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take” (USA TODAY). “Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in” (Chicago Tribune).
Jubilee Jenkins is a librarian with a rare skin disease that prevents her from skin-to-skin contact. For almost 10 years she has been a recluse, but circumstances have brought her back into the world, albeit with layers of clothing to protect her skin. When she encounters single father Eric Keegan and his young son, Jubilee is charmed. But as they begin to establish a connection over books, they must find new ways to be near each other in order to cope with the challenges they each bring. CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH is the perfect pandemic read, as so many of us have found it difficult to be apart from one another, unable to touch or hug, and this book provides ample creative ideas for ways to connect with others.
“A witty, inventive, and bittersweet” (Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author) love story for anyone who’s ever wanted something—or someone—just out of reach, Close Enough to Touch will delight fans of Jojo Moyes’s One Plus One and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.
Can you miss something you never had?
Jubilee Jenkins is no ordinary librarian. With a rare allergy to human touch, any skin-to-skin contact could literally kill her. But after retreating into solitude for nearly ten years, Jubilee’s decided to brave the world again, despite the risks. Armed with a pair of gloves, long sleeves, and her trusty bicycle, she finally ventures out the front door—and into her future.
Eric Keegan has troubles of his own. With his daughter from a failed marriage no longer speaking to him, and his brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son attempting telekinesis, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants to be. So when an encounter over the check-out desk at the local library entangles his life with that of a beautiful—albeit eccentric—woman, he finds himself wanting nothing more than to be near her.
Charming and utterly unique, Close Enough to Touch is “a story that overflows with compassion, humor, and the impulsive need to read just one more chapter until you reach the very satisfying end” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author).
THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT by Clare Pooley tells a story of six different characters from all different walks of life who write down their truths in a shared little green notebook that passes from coffee shop to wine bar, from London to Thailand, and back. From an addict to an artist to a new mother and others, each character makes a commitment to be honest with one other in a way that most people aren’t. Soon finding themselves together in real life, each of them lays their cards out on the table, realizing that transparency is not as bad as it seems. This emotional, warm story reminds me of what it feels like to have a glimpse into someone else’s home and see each other’s lives outside of the image that we've created.
It’s often difficult to make choices that we feel will disappoint our parents, even if those choices are what’s best for us. At twelve years old, Azere had promised her father, before he died, that after emigrating to Canada, she would marry a Nigerian man. Though, at the time, she did not understand the weight of her promise, in her adulthood, Azere has found herself bound to it by both her own sense of responsibility and her mother’s strict oversight. Frustrated and exhausted by her promise, a date-gone-wrong puts Azere in the bed of a Spanish fellow Canadian: Rafael Castellano. The one-night stand soon turns romantic and Azere has nowhere to turn. Now caught between her commitment to culture and her duty to herself, Azere must make a choice—to honor her family’s wishes or be true to her own. A charming story about the internal conflict between duty to family and duty to self, TIES THAT TETHER reminds us that there is a fine line between who we are and who we are expected to be, and that happiness only comes from being truly satisfied with yourself.
Photo credit: iStock / David-Prado