Making the most of the upcoming summer days is on everyone’s August bucket list—especially as a cool and cozy autumn is just around the corner—and for booklovers, that goal specifically means trying to make a dent in an ever-growing reading list. Though these novels will only make that list grow longer, reading them is truly a worthwhile effort as this month’s new paperback books are some of our most immersive and thematic yet!
This is a mystery that spans over forty years of time and the entire oeuvre of children’s novelist Edith Twyford. When Steven was in high school, he found a copy of a popular Twyford book covered in annotations and notes—markings that his English teacher, Miss Iles, was convinced was a secret code—and to make matters worse, Miss Iles mysteriously disappears on a class field trip to the home of Edith Twyford herself, never to be seen again. Now that Steven has been released from prison (for Twyford-unrelated things of course!), he has only two things on his mind: What happened to Miss Iles? And what does Edith Twyford have to do with it? Told through a series of 200 audio files recorded by Steven, discussing both his life and his theories about the mystery, THE TWYFORD CODE is a puzzlingly clever tale that amounts to a satisfying ending, for both the reader and Steven.
The mysterious connection between a teacher’s disappearance and an unsolved code in a children’s book is explored in this new novel from the “modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London) and author of The Appeal.
Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she later disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy becomes convinced that she had been right.
Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. In a series of voice recordings on an old iPhone, Smithy alternates between visiting the people of his childhood and looking back on the events that later landed him in prison. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy may just have the key.
“Filled with numerous clues, acrostics, and red herrings, this thrilling scavenger hunt for the truth is delightfully deceptive and thoroughly immersive” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
All of Oanh’s female descendants are cursed when she decides to leave her marriage in favor of true love. It has been declared that no woman of this Vietnamese bloodline is to find love, even if they find success in other aspects of life, and each woman will forever bear daughters, instead of sons. Generations later, Oanh’s great-granddaughters are estranged not only from one another but from their own mothers as well. But when one elder woman of the family decides to seek a psychic’s help in saving her family, the women are finally able to look beyond the scandals, jealousy, and fights that pushed them apart and work together to fix their intergenerational trauma. This is a cultural feminist story that both appreciates and challenges ancient traditions, all while capturing the passion and strength of Vietnamese women and their families.
For fans of Jonathan Tropper, Amy Tan, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, author of The Last Story of Mina Lee) novel follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.
Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed.
It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would only give birth to daughters.
Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.
Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.
A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, “The Fortunes of Jaded Women pulls off the magic trick of being a heartfelt, multi-generational epic as well as a fast-paced, hilarious romp. It is your good fortune to have this novel in your hands” (Camille Perri, author of When Katie Met Cassidy).
In this epic historical fiction novel inspired by the real sinking of a Dutch merchant ship in 1628, Mayken and Gil’s lives are intertwined in a strange way: Mayken is a feral, joyous, and mischievous orphan of the 1600s who sets sail on the Batavia for a months-long journey to her new home in the Dutch East Indies and is convinced there is a mythical beast on the ship; Gil is a child of the same age, in the late 1900s, who recently lost his mother and is traveling to Australia with his 900-year-old tortoise to live with his grandfather, who resides on an island haunted by the Batavia shipwreck and Mayken’s ghost. Alternating between each eccentric child’s narrative and point in time, this book draws so many parallels between the two and the monsters they face as they both learn about what the real world holds for them.
Based on a true story, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves “a true work of magic” (V.E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) about friendship, sacrifice, brutality, and forgiveness.
Caz is excited for the vacation of a lifetime when she boards a luxury cruise ship with her boyfriend, Pete, but after a first night of fun, food, and friends, Caz wakes up only to find her man is missing. To make matters worse, he’s not the only missing passenger; in fact, every single person on the ship has mysteriously disappeared without a trace or even indication that they had been there in the first place. This is a thriller that only gets more and more intense as Caz tries to make sense of the empty ship and what this means for her moving forward.
An unputdownable locked-room thriller about family, trust, and survival from the acclaimed author of the “utterly thrilling” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) First Born.
When Caz steps onboard the exclusive cruise liner RMS Atlantica, it’s the start of a vacation of a lifetime with her new love, Pete. On their first night they explore the ship, eat, dance, make friends, but when Caz wakes the next morning, Pete is missing.
And when she walks out into the corridor, all the cabin doors are open. To her horror, she soon realizes that the ship is completely empty. No passengers, no crew, nobody but her. The Atlantica is steaming into the mid-Atlantic and Caz is the only person on board. But that’s just the beginning of the terrifying journey she finds herself trapped on in this white-knuckled mystery.
In this exploration of friendship, family, and romance, Emery Blackwood is living on Saoirse Island and taking in the magic of the quiet, remote shores, still learning to heal from her traumatic past. Years ago, when she was in high school, her boyfriend, August, was the main suspect behind a devastating fire that destroyed the famous Saoirse Island orchard and killed her best friend, Lily. While August was never charged with the crime, that was the end of his relationship with Emery, especially as he left the island, vowing never to come back. Now, he has broken that promise, as his mother requested to be buried on the island as her last dying wish. What does this mean for Emery, who has never recovered from her best friend’s murder? And can she trust that August not only had nothing to do with the fire but also wants to figure out what really happened, all these years later?
Linda leads an average life: quiet neighborhood, simple dinners, lackluster husband, and an ever-looming sense of yearning for something more. In fact, her general dissatisfaction is only exacerbated every time she receives mail addressed to the previous tenant of her home, Rebecca Finch, who seems to have a glamorous and envious lifestyle. Linda develops a bit of an obsession with Rebecca, scheming ways she could actually get to meet such an elusive figure, but this is not the only strange happening in her suburban neighborhood. Mysteriously, young women around town start to go missing, all at the same time that Linda’s husband, Terry, begins exhibiting strange behaviors, like staying out late without any real explanation. What’s going on in this seemingly perfect suburb? And does any of it have to do with Linda’s mysteriously dark past?
“A darkly funny tale with a gloriously sinister twist.” —The Observer (London)
The bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep delivers a “compellingly creepy” (The Guardian, UK) novel filled with unexpected twists about mysterious murders in a quiet neighborhood.
Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca Finch.
Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly normal—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing.
If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But in this “sublimely structured and darkly witty” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) tale, the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever…
Everyone in the neighborhood knows that Leda possesses certain psychic abilities and will assist the local police department with her skills. Because of this, she’s the first person a man with a missing sister goes to for help. Apparently, his sister was seen leaving town in a flashy car and with stolen money, but her husband suspiciously did not report her missing. Leda takes the case at the same time as Seattle detective Grady Merritt’s lost dog comes back to him with a human leg in his mouth—a human leg that, after DNA testing, has something to do with Leda’s new client. Because of this, it’s only natural that Leda and Grady join forces, as teamwork and clairvoyance are exactly what the two need to solve this case.
Inconsistent psychic Leda Foley and Seattle detective Grady Merritt return to solve the case of a missing couple in this sequel to the “delightful” (The New York Times Book Review) mystery Grave Reservations.
When psychic travel agent Leda Foley is approached by a man searching for his sister, she quickly agrees to help. The missing woman disappeared with a vintage orange car, a fat sack of her employer’s cash, and a grudge against her philandering husband—a man who never even reported her missing.
Meanwhile, Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt has temporarily misplaced his dog. While he’s passing out bright pink “Lost” flyers at the Mount Rainier visitor’s center, the wayward pooch appears—with a human leg in his mouth.
Thanks to DNA matching, Grady learns that the leg has something to do with Leda’s new client, and soon the two cases are tangled.
Theories abound, but law enforcement is low on leads. Lucky for Grady, Leda has a few ideas that might just be crazy enough to work. They’ll need one yellow dog, a fair share of teamwork, and perhaps a bit of Klairvoyant Karaoke to piece the clues together in this “undeniable treat” (Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author) of a mystery.
A woman’s strength is put to the test as former Army Ranger Cassie Gale decides to seek solace in the desolate Alaskan wilderness following the death of her beloved husband. However, this wintery landscape is known for mysterious disappearances that just cannot be explained away by frostbite, avalanches, and the other challenges that come with the environment; so when Cassie’s father finds his daughter missing and her campsite in ruins, he is right to assume that something dire has happened as opposed to a “normal” disappearance by natural reasons. In fact, Cassie wasn’t killed by a feral animal or heavy snowstorm—instead, she has been captured and held in a Russian prison known for its high security and secretive operations working against the American government. A thriller in all senses of the word, SLEEPING BEAR is a twisted tale that follows Cassie’s father’s dedication to finding his daughter, no matter what the cost, all while exploring deeper themes of mental health, PTSD, and loss in its purest form.
“Sleeping Bear is…one of those rare novels that keeps getting better and better and better. Remember the author’s name—Connor Sullivan.” —James Patterson
A former Army veteran seeking solitude in the Alaskan wilderness after her husband’s death finds herself a pawn in a deadly game with Russia in this white-knuckled and “heart-stopping thrill ride” (Chris Hauty, author of Deep State).
After her young husband’s untimely death, Army veteran Cassie Gale decides to take a few days of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness before she starts her new job. But when she fails to show up on her first day and her dog is discovered injured at her wrecked campsite, her father knows that this is much more than a camping trip gone awry.
As it turns out, Cassie’s not the first person to disappear without a trace in Alaska’s northern interior. Bears. Wolves. Avalanches. Frostbite. Starvation. There are many ways to die in here. But not all disappearances can be explained. Cassie’s is one of them, along with a number of other outdoor enthusiasts who have vanished in recent years.
Regaining consciousness in a Russian prison, Cassie finds herself trapped in a system designed to ensure that no one ever escapes alive. It will require all her grit and skills to survive. Meanwhile, her father rushes to outrun the clock, scouring thousands of acres, only to realize she’s been taken by a nefarious adversary—one with the power of the Eastern Bloc behind it. Ties to his past life, one full of secrets, threaten to surface. He knows there’s a price to be paid, but he’s determined it won’t be his daughter.
Timely, electrifying, and perfect for fans of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, “Sleeping Bear clamps you in its jaws and doesn’t let go. A fierce, relentless beast of a novel” (Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author).
As a crime fiction author, Paige Lancaster is familiar with writing about mysteries, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a detective herself. Unfortunately, when she moves back to her hometown with her young daughter and has a run-in with the most popular and put-together mother of the elementary school—Ainsley Anderson, a woman who is also now married to Paige’s high school boyfriend—Paige finds herself at the top of the suspect list when Ainsley is found dead at the annual parents’ party. Good thing Paige is familiar with how to go about solving a mystery because sleuthing her way through this situation and all the other suspicious suburban moms is the only option she has to clear her name. But when Paige starts digging deeper into this whodunit puzzle, it becomes abundantly clear that Ainsley’s secrets are not the only skeletons in the closet!
In this “fast-paced, juicy read full of flirtation, danger, and lies” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author), a single mom goes undercover to investigate a host of disturbing secrets held by the leaders of a local suburban parent-school association, including embezzlement, bribery, adultery, and murder—by the bestselling author of Wish You Were Gone.
Paige Lancaster, single mom and prodigal daughter, has returned to the East Coast from her prestigious, well-paid job in Los Angeles, writing for the smartest detective series on television. Something terrible happened to her back in Hollywood. Okay, two terrible things, one featuring a misplaced tire iron—and now she’s broke, homeless, and living with her widowed mother and eight-year-old daughter, Izzy, in her Connecticut hometown.
Paige needs to buckle down and find a new writing gig but first, she meets the movers and shakers of Izzy’s school’s Parent Booster Association, run by the intimidatingly gorgeous Ainsley Anderson, who just happens to be married to Paige’s old high school flame, John.
Then she shows up at the annual Parents and Pinot fundraiser, held at Ainsley and John’s dazzling mansion, where she’s caught in a compromising position with John, accidentally destroys the guest bathroom, overhears an incriminating conversation, and discovers that her purse has gone missing. And later that night, Ainsley turns up dead at the bottom of her own driveway.
Did she fall? Or was she pushed?
Paige may have only written about detectives, but she is convinced she can handle a little undercover sleuthing. After all, it’ll give her an excuse to spend more time with John. Still, she can’t help but wonder: could he be capable of murder? Or could one of the PBA members have planned a dastardly crime to reach the top? But the most important question of all: will Paige ever get her life back on track?
Greta has an interesting job that is wildly different from her previous stint as a pharmacy technician; she now transcribes sessions for a sex coach who has clients all around upstate New York. Through this, she has inadvertently learned the deepest secrets of those who live around her, even though those identities are kept anonymous. She’s particularly fascinated by one patient whom she has endearingly nicknamed “Big Swiss” due to her large stature and Swiss background, and even though Greta does not actually know who Big Swiss is, she does know that Big Swiss is a 28-year-old married gynecologist who has never experienced an orgasm. The walls of inconspicuousness come crumbling down when Greta bumps into a woman whom she recognizes as Big Swiss because of her familiar voice and though the two become friends, Big Swiss is unaware of how much Greta truly knows about her. In this hilarious and witty novel about trauma, intimacy, and everything in between, Greta is truly desperate to keep her relationship with Big Swiss. This bizarre, surreal, and even downright delusional at some points story is a must-read, especially as it is currently a hugely anticipated television project for HBO!
A brilliantly original and funny novel about a sex therapist’s transcriptionist who falls in love with a client while listening to her sessions. When they accidentally meet in real life, an explosive affair ensues.
Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house, built in 1737, is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss, since she’s tall, stoic, and originally from Switzerland. Greta is fascinated by Big Swiss’s refreshing attitude toward trauma. They both have dark histories, but Big Swiss chooses to remain unattached to her suffering while Greta continues to be tortured by her past.
One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed. Although Big Swiss is unaware of Greta’s true identity, Greta has never been more herself with anyone. Her attraction to Big Swiss overrides her guilt, and she’ll do anything to sustain the relationship…
Bold, outlandish, and filled with irresistible characters, Big Swiss is both a love story and also a deft examination of infidelity, mental health, sexual stereotypes, and more—from an amazingly talented, one-of-a-kind voice in contemporary fiction.
Photo credit: iStock / snowflock