Summer is almost here! While some people may take this time to tend to their gardens, we readers must tend to our TBR stacks. Just as the perennial plant requires pruning, so too does your summer reading lineup. Just as a gardener may find it time to repot, so too must we buy sturdier nightstands so our stacks can breathe. If you’re looking for the reader’s almanac on which books grow best in the summer, we’ve got your list here. From the shiny new thriller by your favorite author to the debut historical novel that’ll blow you away, these reads will take root in your heart in no time.
Sara’s Pick #1: Who doesn’t love a good thrill from the queen of dark mysteries herself? In Ruth Ware’s latest book, we follow Hannah Jones, a soon-to-be mother who gets an unexpected call from a journalist. Back in Hannah’s university days, her friend April was murdered, with their porter being charged for the crime and locked away. But new evidence comes to light that the porter may have been innocent, and it could have been one of April’s friends, including Hannah and her husband, Will, who killed her in cold blood. A dark academia murder mystery, THE IT GIRL will have you wondering just how well you know your closest friends. Publication Date: July 12
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “claustrophobic spine-tingler” (People) One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.
April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
“The Agatha Christie of our generation” (David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author) proves once again that she is “as ingenious and indefatigable as the Queen of Crime” (The Washington Post) with this propulsive murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Heather’s Pick #1: If there’s one thing we all know for sure, it’s that family is complicated. For better or worse, we are all the product of our ancestors and the people who raised us, who are themselves imperfect humans with emotional baggage. In his upcoming novel, THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY, Jamie Ford explores the idea of generational trauma by presenting a family saga with a fantastical twist. The book centers on Dorothy Moy, who possesses the gift/curse of remembering moments from her ancestors’ lives. Concerned that her young daughter has this same ability, Dorothy agrees to participate in a study aimed at treating inherited trauma. Soon she’s experiencing an even closer bond with the Moy women who came before her, from a nurse in China to the first Chinese woman to arrive in the US to a successful tech exec. Dorothy also learns of a love that may have followed her through time and could help her heal . . . Publication Date: August 2
The New York Times bestselling author of the “mesmerizing and evocative” (Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet returns with a powerful exploration of the love that binds one family across the generations.
Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.
As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.
Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.
As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.
Heather’s Pick #2: After reading and loving both BEACH READ and PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION, how could I not be excited for Emily Henry’s BOOK LOVERS? It’s a given that I will pick up this new rom-com debuting in May 2022 about what happens when a “cutthroat literary agent” named Nora meets her match in “bookish brooding editor” Charlie. Publishing is a small world, so Nora and Charlie have met—and butted heads—before. There’s no love lost between them . . . at least not until the summer, when they both end up in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, and their dynamic starts to shift. Could the tension between them be more about love than literature? My money’s on yes! Publication Date: May 3
Ariele’s Pick: THE SUMMER PLACE embodies what Jennifer Weiner does best: she writes about families, motherhood, and growing up and finding your own way with empathy and humor. There’s grief and joy and death, because everyone went through something during the two-plus years we have been grappling with Covid—but somehow Weiner turned the pain of losing her mother, her father-in-law, and her beloved dog, one after the next after the next, into inspiration for a fictional tale that is compelling and relatable and, somehow, full of warmth. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delicious food and vibrant beach scenes that add to the transporting quality of Weiner’s work! THE SUMMER PLACE will transport you to Cape Cod and summer vibes—and will also teach you to embrace life’s many twists and turns with open arms and a wink. Publication Date: May 10
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.
When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.
But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.
When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.
Sara’s Pick #2: Avid readers are often said to devour books, but they have nothing on the characters of Sunyi Dean’s THE BOOK EATERS. That’s because they literally eat books to retain the information inside each volume. Devon is one such book eater, from a long line of these literary munchers, who finds that her son doesn’t hunger for pages, but rather for brains. Yes, I do mean literal brains. And while it sounds gruesome, this novel really shines when it comes to themes of indoctrination and tradition, queer self-discovery and the breaking out of oppressive systems. You’ll come for the unique premise and stay for the touching characters and insightful commentary. Publication Date: August 8
Holly’s Pick #1: Sarah Vaughan is a professional at twisty, deceptive stories. Both ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL and LITTLE DISASTERS kept me on the edge of my reading chair. That’s why I cannot wait to read her latest novel, REPUTATION, a psychological thriller featuring politician Emma. Emma has sacrificed a lot for her career and the seemingly perfect life she lives with her husband and daughter. But when a dead man is found in Emma’s home, a man she has every reason to want dead, she’s left fighting to protect both her family and reputation. This riveting novel will hit the shelves this July, and you best believe I’ll be packing it in my beach bag. Publication Date: July 5
“Astonishingly timely and clever, it’s also utterly gripping.” —Lucy Foley, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb.” —Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author
The bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal—now a hit Netflix series—returns with a new psychological thriller about a politician whose less-than-perfect personal life is thrust into the spotlight when a body is discovered in her home.
As a politician, Emma has sacrificed a great deal for her career—including her marriage and her relationship with her daughter, Flora.
A former teacher, the glare of the spotlight is unnerving for Emma, particularly when it leads to countless insults, threats, and trolling as she tries to work in the public eye. As a woman, she knows her reputation is worth its weight in gold but as a politician, she discovers it only takes one slip-up to destroy it completely.
Fourteen-year-old Flora is learning the same hard lessons at school as she encounters heartless bullying. When another teenager takes her own life, Emma lobbies for a new law to protect women and girls from the effects of online abuse. Now, Emma and Flora find their personal lives uncomfortably intersected…but then the unthinkable happens.
A man is found dead in Emma’s home. A man she had every reason to be afraid of and to want gone. Fighting to protect her reputation, and determined to protect her family at all costs, Emma is pushed to the limits as the worst happens and her life is torn apart.
Another breathless and twisty novel from an absolute “master of suspense” (CrimeReads), Reputation brilliantly illustrates that it isn’t who you are that matters…it’s who people think you are.
Holly’s Pick #2: There’s nothing like a glamorous summer getaway in the Hamptons. Plus, a dreamy engagement at a beachside hotel? What more could Lee ask for? But this glitzy hotel on Gin Lane stirs up some unpleasant memories of the Plaza, where Lee grew up with her mentally ill mother. Despite her efforts to make new happy memories at this hotel, tragedy strikes, and Lee is forced to ask herself if the life she’s always dreamed of will truly be enough. This new summer read, takes readers from regal inns to New York farmland and out to the East End of Long Island in the late 1950s as Lee dives into a little self-discovery. Publication Date: May 31
“Utterly captivating. What a lovely summer novel!” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author
“On Gin Lane encapsulates the very best of historical fiction.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author
After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything—except what she really wants—in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.
Everleigh “Lee” Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.
Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee—a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane—but Lee’s delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel’s opening weekend, the cracks in Lee’s picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she’s always wanted will ever truly be enough.
From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s—and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is.
Elizabeth’s Pick #1: Carli has drive, and she refuses to apologize for it. She spends her days building a career at a New York City media agency, but her true passion is music, and she spends every free moment with her song notebook or guitar. Then she meets hip-hop’s latest obsession, Tau Anderson, who happens to be devastatingly gorgeous . . . and her agency’s new client. Tau has eyes for Carli, but is the star worth putting everything she’s worked so hard for on the line? With modern romance, a glittering look at the New York City music scene, and a heroine you’ll root for, GOOD MORNING, LOVE is a celebration of Black love and the power of believing in yourself. Fans of Jasmine Guillory and Emily Henry—this one’s for you! Publication Date: June 21
For fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, a disarmingly fun debut novel follows Carlisa Henton as her life comes undone after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.
Carlisa “Carli” Henton is a musician and songwriter hoping to follow in her father’s musical footsteps. But, biding her time until she makes it big in the music industry, she works as a junior account manager at a big-name media company to cover her New York City rent. Carli meticulously balances her work with her musical endeavors as a songwriter—until a chance meeting with rising star Tau Anderson sends her calculated world into a frenzy. Their worlds collide and quickly blur the strict lines Carli has drawn between her business and her personal life, throwing Carli’s reputation—and her burgeoning songwriting career—into question.
A smart, timely, energizing romance, Good Morning, Love shows us what the glamorous New York’s music scene is really like and takes us into the lives of a rising but somewhat troubled R&B star and a promising protégé who knows her job better than she knows herself.
With fresh and honest prose, Good Morning, Love examines the uncertainty of being a new professional looking to chase a dream while also trying to survive in a world that’s not always kind to ambitious women.
Sue’s Pick: Set at the beginning of World War II, PROPERTIES OF THIRST starts on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed and from there unwinds a complex story centered around family, dedication to country and duty, the meaning of honor, the tragedy of racial injustice, prejudice, and the true meaning of love.
We meet Rocky Rhodes, who from the moment Pearl Harbor was bombed finds himself facing an incomprehensible tragedy as news of his son who went off to fight becomes ever more bleak and complicated. Rocky manages his concern by pouring his energy into protecting the land he loves. As environmental support for the neighboring city of Los Angeles grows, he realizes he must protect the valley for future generations of his family. While that would be enough of a battle, at the same time the government announces a plan to build a Japanese American internment camp on his land. Further complicating matters is his daughter’s ill-fated love for the idealistic young man assigned by the Department of the Interior to build the camp. As the story unfolds, Rocky must bear the mystery of his son’s fate and the threat to his land, and to his surprise he must acknowledge and come to terms with his own prejudices. I was amazed at how the story deftly examines each of the characters’ struggles to understand the horror of building the camp and the effect of the war on the very fabric of American life.
I loved PROPERTIES OF THIRST because it blends the stories of the individual loves and losses of our shared history. But, above all, it is a compelling and mesmerizing story of America’s changing landscape at that time. Publication Date: August 2
Fifteen years after the publication of Evidence of Things Unseen, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist Marianne Wiggins returns with a novel destined to be an American classic: a sweeping masterwork set during World War II about the meaning of family and the limitations of the American Dream.
Rockwell “Rocky” Rhodes has spent years fiercely protecting his California ranch from the LA Water Corporation. It is here where he and his beloved wife Lou raised their twins, Sunny and Stryker, and it is here where Rocky has mourned Lou in the years since her death.
As Sunny and Stryker reach the cusp of adulthood, the country teeters on the brink of war. Stryker decides to join the fight, deploying to Pearl Harbor not long before the bombs strike. Soon, Rocky and his family find themselves facing yet another incomprehensible tragedy.
Rocky is determined to protect his remaining family and the land where they’ve loved and lost so much. But when the government decides to build a Japanese-American internment camp next to the ranch, Rocky realizes that the land faces even bigger threats than the LA watermen he’s battled for years. Complicating matters is the fact that the idealistic Department of the Interior man assigned to build the camp, who only begins to understand the horror of his task after it may be too late, becomes infatuated with Sunny and entangled with the Rhodes family.
Properties of Thirst is a novel that is both universal and intimate. It is the story of a changing American landscape and an examination of one of the darkest periods in this country’s past, told through the stories of the individual loves and losses that weave together to form the fabric of our shared history. Ultimately, it is an unflinching distillation of our nation’s essence—and a celebration of the bonds of love and family that persist against all odds.
Heather’s Pick #3: I grew up on the coast of Florida, so I have a healthy amount of respect for the ocean and the bravery (or foolhardiness!) required to sail the high seas. Maybe that’s why I’m intrigued by Emma Bamford’s suspense novel DEEP WATER, about a British couple, Virginie and Jake, who trade their life’s savings for a yacht. What starts as a thrilling adventure ends with the two of them being rescued by a Navy ship whose captain listens to their tale with growing horror. Virginie claims that what happened on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean is all her fault and that she “killed them.” But who is “them” and what exactly went down on that island? Sounds like the ideal beach-read mystery to me! Publication Date: May 31
The dark side of paradise is exposed when a terrified couple reveals their daunting experience on a remote island to their rescuers—only to realize they’re still in the grips of the island’s secrets—in this intense and startling debut in the tradition of Into the Jungle and The Ruins.
When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, “It’s all my fault. I killed them.”
Trembling with fear, she reveals their shocking story to Danial. Months earlier, the couple had spent all their savings on a yacht, full of excitement for exploring the high seas and exotic lands together. They start at the busy harbors of Malaysia and, through word of mouth, Jake and Virginie learn about a tiny, isolated island full of unspoiled beaches. When they arrive, they discover they are not the only visitors and quickly become entangled with a motley crew of expat sailors. Soon, Jake and Virginie’s adventurous dream turns into a terrifying nightmare.
Now, it’s up to Danial to determine just how much truth there is in Virginie’s alarming tale. But when his crew make a shocking discovery, he realizes that if he doesn’t act soon, they could all fall under the dark spell of the island.
Molly’s Pick #1: I had the best time reading Megan Miranda for the first time last month. She writes intricate plots full of well-developed characters and surprising twists that keep you guessing the whole time. I can’t wait to dive into her newest, THE LAST TO VANISH, this summer—a story in which a journalist vanishes while investigating a North Carolina mountain town that’s home to several unsolved missing persons cases. His brother shows up looking for answers and teams up with local inn owner Abby Lovett to find out what happened. As they edge closer to the truth, however, Abby realizes that her tight-knit town may not be what she thought it was, and she may not know her neighbors as well as she thought she did. I am so looking forward to reading this thriller that Booklist compared to Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and Stephen King’s THE SHINING. Publication Date: July 26
New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda returns with a gripping and propulsive thriller that opens with the disappearance of a journalist who is investigating a string of vanishings in the resort town of Cutter’s Pass—will its dark secrets finally be revealed?
Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.
Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.
Megan Miranda brings her best writing to The Last to Vanish, a riveting thriller filled with taut suspense and shocking twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Jordyn’s Pick #1: I can’t lie, mushroom houses on the cover of a book will always make me buy it! THE DAWNHOUNDS is a debut fantasy about a police officer who is brought back to life and embarks on a mission to protect her city. After reading other culturally inspired books like BLACK SUN and THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS and loving them, I found that this Māori-inspired book also meshes mythology into the story in a gorgeous way. If you’re looking for fantasy with pirate vibes, queer characters, fungal and biotech worldbuilding, and a race against time, THE DAWNHOUDS will check all your boxes. Publication Date: June 14
Gideon the Ninth meets Black Sun in this queer, Māori-inspired debut fantasy about a police officer who is murdered, brought back to life with a mysterious new power, and tasked with protecting her city from an insidious evil threatening to destroy it.
The port city of Hainak is alive: its buildings, its fashion, even its weapons. But, after a devastating war and a sweeping biotech revolution, all its inhabitants want is peace, no one more so than Yat Jyn-Hok a reformed-thief-turned-cop who patrols the streets at night.
Yat has recently been demoted on the force due to “lifestyle choices” after being caught at a gay club. She’s barely holding it together, haunted by memories of a lover who vanished and voices that float in and out of her head like radio signals. When she stumbles across a dead body on her patrol, two fellow officers gruesomely murder her and dump her into the harbor. Unfortunately for them, she wakes up.
Resurrected by an ancient power, she finds herself with the new ability to manipulate life force. Quickly falling in with the pirate crew who has found her, she must race against time to stop a plague from being unleashed by the evil that has taken root in Hainak.
Jordyn’s Pick #2: I can never resist a Christina Lauren book, and SOMETHING WILDER checks so many boxes for me! This summer the excellent writing duo has a rom-com and adventure in store for you. Similar to the movies Romancing the Stone and The Lost City, this new book is a treasure hunt full of action, lost (and maybe rekindling?) love, and the unforgiving wilderness. As always, Christina Lauren gives you two leads to swoon over, a cast of memorable characters, and a love story you won’t forget. Publication Date: May 17
Listen to an audio excerpt of the first chapter!
The “reigning romance queens” (PopSugar) and New York Times bestselling authors of The Soulmate Equation and The Unhoneymooners present a charming and laugh-out-loud funny novel filled with adventure, treasure, and, of course, love.
Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.
Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.
But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.
From the author of the “heartfelt and funny” (Publishers Weekly) sensation The Unhoneymooners, this page-turning adventure full of second chances, complicated relationships, and the breathtaking beauty of the American Southwest will take fans on one wild ride.
Emily’s Pick #1: Of all the books coming out this summer, this one has my favorite cover. The vivid colors, the detailed tree roots and starry sky, the figure staring off into the horizon. Yeah, this one calls to me. And from the plot description, it sounds like a great match for the book as well! In 1886 young Eliza Brightwell arrives in Western Australia with her family—her father has ambitions of captaining a pearl-diving boat in the opulent ocean waters. Ten years pass and he achieves his dreams, until one day his boat returns, empty. Eliza must plumb the depths of the ocean and the pearling industry to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, before it’s too late. Publication Date: June 14
For readers of The Light Between Oceans and The Island of Sea Women, a feminist adventure story set against the backdrop of the dangerous pearl diving industry in 19th-century Western Australia, about a young English woman who sets off to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her eccentric father.
Western Australia, 1886. After months at sea, a slow boat makes its passage from London to the shores of Bannin Bay. From the deck, young Eliza Brightwell and her family eye their strange, new home. Here is an unforgiving land where fortune sits patiently at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough to venture into its depths. An ocean where pearl shells bloom to the size of soup plates, where men are coaxed into unthinkable places and unspeakable acts by the promise of unimaginable riches.
Ten years later, the pearl-diving boat captained by Eliza’s eccentric father returns after months at sea—without Eliza’s father on it. Whispers from townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it’s up to her to discover who, or what, is really responsible.
As she searches for the truth, Eliza discovers that beneath the glamorous veneer of the pearling industry, lies a dark underbelly of sweltering, stinking decay. The sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a place she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail. Just how far is Eliza willing to push herself in order to solve the mystery of her missing father? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?
A transporting feminist adventure story based on Lizzie Pook’s deep research into the pearling industry and the era of British colonial rule in Australia, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is ultimately about the lengths one woman will travel to save her family.
Nicole’s Pick #1: Akwaeke Emezi has already conquered the literary fiction, memoir, and middle-grade worlds, so of course it only makes sense for their next sure-to-be hit to be in the romance genre. I’ve recently gotten back into romance (thanks, pandemic), so my excitement over this book is through the roof. A story about a Black woman looking for a second chance at love? By one of the most prolific authors of our time? Sign. Me. Up. Akwaeke’s writing is the kind that stays with you hours, days, and months after you’ve consumed their work. They craft narrative and characters so beautiful that no word I can come up with will do it justice. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to start reading this book, and I’ve been immediately drawn in by Feyi, a gorgeous Black artist living in NYC and getting back into the dating scene five years after her husband died in a terrible accident. How will Feyi traverse this new world and a new relationship while navigating the grief she still holds on to? I can’t wait to find out, and I hope you can’t either. Publication Date: May 24
A New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
Elizabeth’s Pick #2: Most people can relate to the experience of an annoying roommate situation. Sometimes it’s because they can’t clean up after themselves, or they play loud music, or (in my case) work totally different hours such that you might find them banging around in the kitchen making steak and chimichurri at 1:30 a.m. without a second thought. Then there are the uncomfortable roommates. The ones who “accidentally” open your mail or invite themselves to your social gatherings, the ones who never seem to leave home and are always awkwardly there when you want a moment just to be alone. In MAGPIE, Elizabeth Day introduces an expecting couple and their lodger, three perfectly nice people thrown together by circumstance. But as the weeks and months of the pregnancy tick by, it becomes increasingly clear that the person this young couple invited into their home has made herself a little too at home, to increasingly frightening degrees. I won’t say more to avoid spoiling an epic twist, but I will say that the end will have you reconsidering everything you’ve read and applauding Day’s skill as a writer and feminist cultural commenter (she’s the host of the beloved podcast How to Fail). A perfect summer read to launch the season! Publication Date: May 3
She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.
For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, a taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create.
Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple. And Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate—and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for the baby of their dreams.
Except—no one is truly perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly-familiar with Jake. But Marisa doesn’t let it concern her, knowing that soon Kate will be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.
Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession—with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?
In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create—her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self.
Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created—and what she stands to lose.
For fans of Gone Girl and The Perfect Nanny, Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
Jordyn’s Pick #3: I just know that summer is in the air with this cover; it’s so bright and colorful and this book is begging to be brought to the beach! Speaking of the beach, ISLAND TIME is set on a tropical island where two families are stranded after a nearby volcano eruption changes their plans. Georgia Clark’s books remind me of watching Love Actually, with so many storylines and relationships that come together at the climax of the book in a perfect way. Featuring so many loveable characters, this should be right on top of your summer reading list. Publication Date: June 14
Love is in the salty sea air in this smart and steamy ensemble romantic comedy set in a tropical paradise, from the author of the “sparkly and entertaining” (Oprah Daily) It Had to Be You. This is one island you won’t want to be rescued from.
The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.
With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.
Nicole’s Pick #2: Last summer, I wrote about how excited I was for Casey McQuiston’s ONE LAST STOP, and then spent the next several months telling anyone who would listen how incredible that book was. Something tells me I’m going to have a very similar experience this summer, but with Casey’s latest: I KISSED SHARA WHEELER.
Set in a small town in the Bible Belt (nearly polar opposite of ONE LAST STOP’S NYC and San Francisco settings), I KISSED SHARA WHEELER centers around Chloe Green, a high school senior whose quest for valedictorian has all but gotten her through her time at Willowgrove Christian Academy. Shortly before graduation, Chloe’s academic rival, Shara Wheeler, kisses Chloe and two other people before vanishing. The three must decode the cryptic notes Shara left behind if Chloe has any hope of finding Shara and beating her fair and square for valedictorian. Through their search, Chloe discovers that there’s more to their small town than she originally thought. I love a romantic comedy mixed with a bit of mystery, and I can’t wait to see how CMQ combines the two. Publication Date: May 3
Holly’s Pick #3: Scoot PERCY JACKSON and HARRY POTTER over on your shelves. There’s a new middle grade magical adventure novel ready to take over your entire personality. Skandar, our hero, is a thirteen-year-old boy who dreams of passing his Hatchery exam and becoming a unicorn rider. But Skandar’s journey to becoming a rider is far more epic than he ever imagined. Skandar quickly learns that a rider’s job isn’t just bonding with a mystical unicorn and taking part in epic sky battles. Off the Mainland, there’s a villain backed by an army of bloodthirsty evil unicorns, threatening to take over the world. And whether Skandar likes it or not, his powers are vital to defeating the army. As Skandar grows close to other riders and understands his part in the world of unicorns, he learns valuable lessons about friendship, strength, and courage. I got completely lost in this exciting realm following along with Skandar’s engrossing story. Publication Date: May 3
Soar into a breathtaking world of heroes and unicorns as you’ve never seen them before in this fantastical middle grade debut perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson and Eragon series!
Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.
Skandar is thrust into a world of epic sky battles, dangerous clashes with wild unicorns, and rumors of a shadowy villain amassing a unicorn army. And the closer Skandar grows to his newfound friends and community of riders, the harder it becomes to keep his secrets—especially when he discovers their lives may all be in graver danger than he ever imagined.
Emily’s Pick #2: I don’t read very many thrillers, but Lisa Jewell’s THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS hooked me with its characters—especially young Henry, whose opulent family is manipulated and their expensive home invaded by a greedy cultlike couple. The story also follows two other perspectives, including one 25 years later, as Libby inherits the house and investigates how she’s connected and what happened that left it abandoned years ago. Each perspective felt so distinct and real that I cared about the mystery, and I read ravenously for the answers. I’m so excited to get a standalone sequel with some of the same characters in THE FAMILY REMAINS. Publication Date: August 9
A woman stops at nothing to find her husband’s murderer in this psychological thriller about twisted marriages, fractured families, and deadly obsessions in this standalone sequel to the “brilliantly chilling” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs from the New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell.
Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.
Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.
After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.
As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.
In this masterful standalone sequel to her haunting New York Times bestseller, The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell proves she is writing at the height of her powers with another jaw-dropping, intricate, and affecting novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.
Molly’s Pick #2: As buzz starts to build about the upcoming Teen Wolf movie, I’m more invested in Teen Wolf and Arrow star Colton Haynes’s memoir, MISS MEMORY LANE. Thrust into the spotlight as a teenager, Colton Haynes has lived a tumultuous life, plagued by power-hungry Hollywood execs who forced him to stay closeted and a drug addiction that nearly ended his life. I read a New York magazine article he wrote last year and was taken aback by his honesty and thoughtful prose; I know his memoir will be vulnerable and powerful. He wrote in that article, “Now that I’m older and sober, I’m trying to square who I am with the inauthentic version of myself I invested in for years. I often wonder how different things would’ve been if I were allowed to be who I was when I moved to town: a hopeful kid confident in his sexuality.” I’m so thrilled for him that he has the opportunity to be his true, authentic self and that we’re able to witness it on the screen and off. Publication Date: May 31
A brutally honest and moving memoir of lust, abuse, addiction, stardom, and redemption from Arrow and Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes.
Four years ago, Colton Haynes woke up in a hospital. He’d had two seizures, lost the sight in one eye, almost ruptured a kidney, and been put on an involuntary psychiatry hold. Not yet thirty, he knew he had to take stock of his life and make some serious changes if he wanted to see his next birthday.
As he worked towards sobriety, Haynes allowed himself to become vulnerable for the first time in years and with that, discovered profound self-awareness. He had millions of social media followers who constantly told him they loved him. But what would they think if they knew his true story? If they knew where he came from and the things he had done?
Now, Colton bravely pulls back the curtain on his life and career, revealing the incredible highs and devastating lows. From his unorthodox childhood in a small Kansas town, to coming to terms with his sexuality, he keeps nothing back.
By sixteen, he had been signed by the world’s top modeling agency and his face appeared on billboards. But he was still a broke, lonely, confused teenager, surrounded by people telling him he could be a star as long as he never let anyone see his true self. As his career in television took off, the stress of wearing so many masks and trying to please so many different people turned his use of drugs and alcohol into full-blown addiction.
A lyrical and intimate confession, apology, and cautionary tale, Miss Memory Lane is an unforgettable story of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled; of a family torn apart and rebuilt; and of a man stepping into the light as no one but himself.
Jordyn’s Pick #4: Summer 2021 was such a great year for queer rom-coms, and it looks like summer 2022 is gearing up to be even better! CHEF’S KISS follows Simone, a shy pastry expert trying to make it at a cookbook publisher in NYC. But her job gets complicated when she’s asked to create more online content. When her new colleague Ray becomes a viral sensation, they have to work together while navigating the company’s reactions to Ray coming out as nonbinary. This rom-com had me swooning and hungry for pastries, which is a winning combination if you ask me. Publication Date: May 3
A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.
Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.
To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.
Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).
Sharon’s Pick #1: In this sweeping novel of friendship, class, and the natural world, Alice Elliott Dark charts the lifelong bond between famed children’s author Agnes and well-off wife Polly. As Agnes and Polly enter the twilight of their lives, the two must confront what they want and how they want to be remembered as they end up on opposite sides of an ownership struggle over Maine’s beloved coast known as Fellowship Point. Publication Date: July 5
The masterful story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets, tested in the twilight of their lives, set across the arc of the 20th century.
Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.
Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, and philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She exalts in creating beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?
Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.
Fellowship Point reads like a classic 19th-century novel in its beautifully woven, multilayered narrative, but it is entirely contemporary in the themes it explores; a deep and empathic interest in women’s lives, the class differences that divided us, the struggle to protect the natural world, and, above all, a reckoning with intimacy, history, and posterity. It is a masterwork from Alice Elliott Dark.
Sharon's Pick #2: Clare Pollard reinvents the pandemic novel in DELPHI, writing from the perspective of a classics academic. As COVID-19 descends upon the city of London, our central protagonist is faced with the pandemic’s onset amongst other life upheavals, namely her failing marriage and her emotional distance from her ten-year-old son. To cope, she turns to forms of ancient prophecy and prediction, bouncing from chiromancy (prophecy by palm reading) to zoomancy (prophecy by animal behavior) and everything in between. Striking and sharp, DELPHI deftly explores how to make sense of the senseless in our current age. Publication Date: August 2
For readers of Jenny Offill, Deborah Levy, and Olivia Laing, an exquisite debut novel about a classics academic researching prophecy in the ancient world, just as the pandemic descends and all visions of her own family’s future begin to blur.
Covid-19 has arrived in London, and the entire world quickly succumbs to the surreal, chaotic mundanity of screens, isolation, and the disasters small and large that have plagued recent history. As our unnamed narrator—a classics academic immersed in her studies of ancient prophecies—navigates the tightening grip of lockdown, a marriage in crisis, and a ten-year-old son who seems increasingly unreachable, she becomes obsessed with predicting the future. Shifting her focus from chiromancy (prophecy by palm reading) to zoomancy (prophecy by animal behavior) to oenomancy (prophecy by wine), she fails to notice the future creeping into the heart of her very own home, and when she finally does, the threat has already breached the gates.
Brainy and ominous, funny and sharp, Delphi is a snapshot and a time capsule—it both demythologizes our current moment and places our reality in the context of myth. Clare Pollard has delivered one of our first great novels of this terrible moment, a mesmerizing story of our pasts, our presents, and our futures, and how we keep on living in a world that is ever-more uncertain and absurd.
Sharon’s Pick #3: Based on a true story from the author’s family history, Ann Leary’s THE FOUNDLING is a poignant and gripping story of two childhood best friends who reconnect as employee and inmate at the most acclaimed women’s asylum in 1927 Pennsylvania. A deft examination of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century through the lens of an unbreakable female friendship, THE FOUNDLING will stay with you long after you finish the final page. Publication Date: May 31
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate.
It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel.
Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care.
Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all.
Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”
Photo credit: iStock / MaleWitch