While April showers may bring May flowers, we have more than just blossoms for you to look forward to. As a gift to all our book lovers, we’ve gathered a beautiful bouquet of recently released April paperback books. From feminist historical fiction to dystopian novels, any of these reads are a great distract yourself as seasonal allergies kick in.
Inspired by a true story, THE FOUNDLING follows Mary Engle who becomes a new secretary at Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. Set in the 1920s at the height of the eugenics movement in American history, Mary discovers that this institution may have ulterior motives beyond providing care for “troubled” women—even though it is run by a well-known women’s rights activist. This historical fiction novel will have you questioning both what it means to be undesirable and what it means to be ethical.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the “harrowing, gripping, and beautiful” (Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author) story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at an institution—based on a shocking and little-known piece of American history.
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 is compelling, unsettling, and “a stunning reminder that not much time has passed since everyone claimed to know what was best for a woman—everyone except the woman herself” (Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author).
If you’re looking for a dystopian science fiction novel that combines elusive mystery, comedy, and a heartwarming story of friendship into one singular book, END OF THE WORLD HOUSE by Adrienne Celt is a perfect fit. Bertie and Kate have been best friends since forever, but their relationship is threatened when Kate must move across the state for her job. One last big hurrah—a girl’s trip to Paris—is simply necessary. However, this trip becomes anything but normal as the two become stuck in a never-ending time loop that can only be solved if they work together.
Groundhog Day meets Ling Ma’s Severance in End of the World House, a thought-provoking comedic novel about two young women trying to save their friendship as the world collapses around them.
Bertie and Kate have been best friends since high school. Bertie is a semi-failed cartoonist, working for a prominent Silicon Valley tech firm. Her job depresses her, but not as much as the fact that Kate has recently decided to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
When Bertie’s attempts to make Kate stay fail, she suggests the next-best thing: a trip to Paris that will hopefully distract the duo from their upcoming separation. The vacation is also a sort of last hurrah, coming during a ceasefire in a series of escalating world conflicts.
One night in Paris, they meet a strange man in a bar who offers them a private tour of the Louvre. The women find themselves alone in the museum, where nothing is quite as it seems. Caught up in a day that keeps repeating itself, Bertie and Kate are eventually separated, and Bertie is faced with a mystery that threatens to derail everything. In order to make her way back to Kate, Bertie has to figure out how much control she has over her future—and her past—and how to survive an apocalypse when the world keeps refusing to end.
Love is complicated as is, but for Yasmin Ghorami—daughter of first-generation Bengali immigrants—who is pursuing a cross-cultural romance with Joe Sangster—who hails from an upper-class British background—family history, tensions, and trauma make the relationship much more complicated. The young couple both struggle in unique ways to navigate what differences in class, culture, and sexual experience mean for them and their future. LOVE MARRIAGE is an unforgettable commentary on what it means to have and to work through love in all its dimensions.
Named a Best Book of 2022 So Far by The New Yorker!
“Cultural clashes, political satire, Oedipal conflicts, elegant prose—they’re all here in this romp of a book.” —Oprah Daily
A Phenomenal Book Club Pick and a New York Times Book Review Group Text Selection, Love Marriage is a glorious moving novel from Booker Prize shortlisted Monica Ali, who has “an inborn generosity that cannot be learned” (The New York Times Book Review).
In present-day London, Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast. So, too, is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe.
As the wedding day draws near, misunderstandings, infidelities, and long-held secrets upend both Yasmin’s relationship and that of her parents, a “love marriage,” according to the family lore that Yasmin has believed all her life.
A gloriously acute observer of class, sexual mores, and the mysteries of the human heart, Monica Ali has written a “riveting” (BookPage, starred review) social comedy and a moving, revelatory story of two cultures, two families, and two people trying to understand one another that’s “sure to please Ali’s fans and win some new ones” (Publishers Weekly).
Civil Townsend is an African American nurse who wants to give back to the community through helping young women at a family planning clinic. However, the longer she works there and the more attached she gets to two patients—11- and 13-year-old sisters, India and Erica—the more she realizes the clinic may not have women’s best interests in mind. This historical fiction novel reminds us that unless history is remembered and told, it is doomed to be repeated.
Christine Simon’s THE PATRON SAINT OF SECOND CHANCES is a heartwarmingly sweet story of how far the self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy—Signor Speranza—will go to save his village. In order to drum up tourism to fend off an impending financial disaster, Signor Speranza starts a rumor that a famous movie will be filmed nearby. But as the story gains traction, it is clear that the entire town is actually expecting this fake movie to be made. Silly but endearing, THE PATRON SAINT OF SECOND CHANCES will have you as excited as the Prometto villagers are.
The self-appointed mayor of a tiny Italian village is determined to save his hometown no matter the cost in this “charming farce that highlights the triumph of hope and community” (People).
Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all the residents will be forced to disperse. In a desperate bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.
Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.
As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!), Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?
A “warmhearted, original gem of a novel” (Amy Poeppel, author of Musical Chairs), The Patron Saint of Second Chances is perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and Maria Semple.
If your life was falling apart and you were presented with an invitation to an elite social group that promised they could fix all the issues you were struggling with, would you accept the offer? The decision is easy for Nicole, whose law practice was failing before joining the exclusive women’s group Panthera Leo. Career support, unlimited favors, a growing network—Nicole starts to have it all, until she is expected to give too much in return. Her new sisters need her expertise in covering up a murder—and Nicole may be in too deep to say no.
A “propulsive thriller about secret organizations, hidden agendas, and the lengths one woman will go to reclaim her life” (Laura Dave, author of Reese’s Book Club Pick The Last Thing He Told Me) from USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine McKenzie.
At thirty-nine, Nicole Mueller’s life is on the rocks. Her once brilliant law career is falling apart. She and her husband, Dan, are soon to be forced out of the apartment they love. After a warning from her firm’s senior partners, she receives an invitation from an exclusive women’s networking group, Panthera Leo. Membership is anonymous, but every member is a successful professional. It sounds like the perfect solution to help Nicole revive her career. So, despite Dan’s concerns that the group might be a cult, Nicole signs up for their retreat in Colorado.
Once there, she meets the other women who will make up her Pride. A CEO, an actress, a finance whiz, a congresswoman: Nicole can’t believe her luck. The founders of Panthera Leo are equally as impressive. They explain the group’s core philosophy: they’re a girl’s club in a boy’s club world.
Nicole is all in. And when she gets home, she soon sees dividends. Her new network quickly provides her with clients that help her relaunch her career, and a great new apartment too. The favors she has to provide in return seem benign. But then she’s called to the congresswoman’s apartment late at night where she’s pressed into helping her cover up a crime. And suddenly, Dan’s concerns that something more sinister is at play seem all too relevant. Can Nicole extricate herself from the group before it’s too late? Or will joining Panthera Leo be the biggest mistake of her life?
Ruby and her quarantine boyfriend are ready for marriage, but unfortunately their families have different opinions. Her grandma is excited (even willing to grant them the family’s beach house as a wedding venue!) but her mom, Sarah, is worried this plan will be a mistake. As more of Ruby’s family comes into the picture—her father, who has been distant since the relationship started; her uncle, who is suffering from his own losses; and her mother-in-law, who is just shy of overbearing—it becomes clear that the situation can only be described as dysfunctional. Will the couple be able to have a happy wedding, or will a mess of misunderstandings stand in their way?
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another “fun, feisty” (The Washington Post) 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 the challenges of the 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 first-rate page-turner” (Publishers Weekly) 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.
The mystery begins when Loni discovers a cryptic note referencing the truth surrounding her father’s death—although the situation was ruled a suicide when it happened. Virginia Hartman’s THE MARSH QUEEN follows Loni’s journey through the wetlands of Florida as she decides to uncover the truth despite warnings to simply just let it go. Unraveling the case is only one of several challenges Loni faces as every part of her family seems to be falling apart at the seams, with her at the center of it all.
For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, this “marvelous debut” (Alice McDermott, National Book Award–winning author of The Ninth Hour) follows a Washington, DC, artist as she faces her past and the secrets held in the waters of Florida’s lush swamps and wetlands.
Loni Murrow is an accomplished bird artist at the Smithsonian who loves her job. But when she receives a call from her younger brother summoning her back home to help their obstinate mother recover after an accident, Loni’s neat, contained life in Washington, DC, is thrown into chaos, and she finds herself exactly where she does not want to be.
Going through her mother’s things, Loni uncovers scraps and snippets of a time in her life she would prefer to forget—a childhood marked by her father Boyd’s death by drowning and her mother Ruth’s persistent bad mood. When Loni comes across a single, cryptic note from a stranger—“There are some things I have to tell you about Boyd’s death”— she begins a dangerous quest to discover the truth, all the while struggling to reconnect with her mother and reconcile with her brother and his wife, who seem to thwart her at every turn. To make matters worse, she meets a man in Florida whose attractive simple charm threatens everything she’s worked toward.
Pulled between worlds—her professional accomplishments in Washington, and the small town of her childhood—Loni must decide whether to delve beneath the surface into murky half-truths and either avenge the past or bury it, once and for all.
The Marsh Queen explores what it means to be a daughter and how we protect the ones we love. Suzanne Feldman, author of Sisters of the Great War, writes that “fans of Delia Owens and Lauren Groff will find this a wonderful and absorbing read.”
A yacht getaway gone wrong—this is what Virginie tells the navy ship that saves her and her husband, Jake, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Apparently, the young couple sailed until they discovered an isolated Malaysian island—but it was less deserted than they originally thought, and ended up being a nightmarish land that carried a deadly spell. A spell which may curse the navy ship too if the captain can’t filter out the truth from lies before it’s too late. If you are looking for a suspenseful and mysterious thriller, DEEP WATER will pull you into the darkest depths of the ocean.
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.
While fiction is always fun, here is a nonfiction option for readers looking for something different! Michael Schur’s guide to ethical living and moral philosophy, HOW TO BE PERFECT, is both thought-provoking and hilarious in its discussion of everyday decisions of virtue. You can think of it as an extension of his hit television series that ponders the same moral conundrums, The Good Place. Fair warning though: this guide may in fact make you want to be a better person!
From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,400 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.
Photo credit: iStock / Jelena990