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5 Dynamic Book Club Picks Recommended by Author Tif Marcelo

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Tif Marcelo is a veteran army nurse and holds a BS in nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She is the author of In a Book Club Far Away, Once Upon a SunsetThe Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

It’s always the most crucial question asked during book club: What shall we read next? Even as an avid book clubber, I admit to sometimes skirting around the responsibility of choosing the next read. The pressure to pick a “great book”—a concept so subjective that that alone is a conversation point—is real. But in my fifteen-plus years of participating in a myriad of book clubs, here’s what I found to be true: Great books don’t come from a specific genre, nor are they written to a certain audience. So, here are a handful of books that span genres and categories that are sure to liven up your book club conversations.

When We Were Infinite
by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Your book club will need to buckle down and perhaps break out the tissues for this fantastic young adult novel. This book, narrated by a teen in her senior year of high school, asks hard questions about the pressures of coming of age, without pulling any punches with regard to mental health. Gilbert weaves together all of what we may have experienced in our teen years and, for readers who are parents, what our children may experience, finely written with a nuanced Asian American, Northern California point of view.

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When We Were Infinite
Kelly Loy Gilbert

From award-winning author Kelly Loy Gilbert comes a powerful, achingly romantic drama about the secrets we keep, from each other and from ourselves, perfect for fans of Permanent Record and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.

All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends—Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou—to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has—even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she’s certain she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him, so friendship will have to be enough.

Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.

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When No One Is Watching
by Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole’s debut psychological thriller, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING mixes unreliable narrators, neighborhood drama, and gentrification, all with a horror bent. An acclaimed romance author, Cole slides right into this different genre by thrusting the readers into the conflict from the first page. This novel will set the stage for crucial conversation about race, economics, and revisionist history.

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When No One Is Watching
Alyssa Cole

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Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

A book that hops between the before and after of a global pandemic called the “Georgia Flu,” STATION ELEVEN asks readers to contemplate the human condition and the arts in a recovering society. Mandel’s prose is so careful and gentle, in direct juxtaposition to the book’s tough subject matter: survivability. Though written in 2014, this story feels even more intimate as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

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Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel

For fans of “The Walking Dead”

While “The Walking Dead” hero Rick Grimes and his gang are keeping hope alive but losing their grip fast after a zombie apocalypse, STATION ELEVEN’s Kirsten Raymonde and her band, the Symphony, have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive after a mysterious pandemic has ravaged civilization.

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Under the Southern Sky
by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey is known for bringing complicated and loving families into contemporary fiction, and her latest book UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY, is right on brand. This novel touches on grief, divorce, and transitioning families, written in her signature poignant prose. Featuring several characters’ points of view, with two taking the majority of the story, the novel will surely spark discussion about second chances in all forms.

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Under the Southern Sky
Kristy Woodson Harvey

One of Country Living’s 20 New Books You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring
One of Bookstr’s 8 Most Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Frolic’s 12 Most Anticipated Books of 2021
One of BookTrib’s Most-Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Brit + Co’s Books You Should Read with Your BFF

Two childhood friends discover that love—and family—can be found in unconventional ways in this timely, moving novel from the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “beautifully Southern, evocative Peachtree Bluff series” (Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife).

Recently separated Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Under the Southern Sky is a fresh and unforgettable exploration of love, friendship, and the unbreakable ties that bind.

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Wild Rain
by Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins, a titan in the romance industry, brings us the no-nonsense, independent rancher, Spring Lee and sensitive, curious reporter Garrett McCray, with Wyoming in the post–Civil War era as a backdrop. As with all her books, Jenkins brings light to Black history not often told, within the context of joy and love above all circumstances. Though this book is the second in a series, it can stand alone, and with Jenkins’ expert storytelling, your book club will be swept away, satisfied by the love achieved between Spring and Garrett, and supplied with a whole host of discussion topics, from post–Civil War history to the expectations put on women.

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Wild Rain
Beverly Jenkins

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In a Book Club Far Away
by Tif Marcelo

IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY is on sale now!

Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.

That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.

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In a Book Club Far Away
Tif Marcelo

From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.

Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.

That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.

As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.

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