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The Ultimate Summer Reading Guide

Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 11:42 am

Over 30 must-read books for summer!

Perfect beach reads

Sand, waves, and a good book. What more could you ask for? Of course, these books are so darn good you can read them anywhere!

The Night the Lights Went Out Karen White (Berkley, out now)

From the author of Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, and The House of Tradd Street, comes a splendid novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems.

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But, just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women.

The ironically named “Sugar” (Merilee’s landlord) will stay with you long after the you turn the last page!

The Identicals Elin Hilderbrand (Little Brown and Company, June 13)

Summer to me means Elin Hilderbrand and a trip to the New England shore. This year’s book, The Identicals, may be her best yet!

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But, the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike—and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together—or at least appear to—the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart. A story of new loves, old battles, and a threat that gives a whole new meaning to the term sibling rivalry.

Same Beach Next Year Dorthea Benton Frank (William Morrow, out now)

Possibly my favorite author of summer – every summer – is Dorthea Benton Frank. Her books feel like family, a great mismatched southern family.

Same Beach, Next Year is set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina in this bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart

One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

Hello Sunshine Laura Dave (Simon & Schuster, July 11)

Laura Dave is a new author for me, and she did not disappoint. I loved this book – compassion, humor, and what happens when we try to be ourselves in world of social media.

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light. She is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then, she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But, what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

The Summer House Hannah McKinnon (Atria, June 20)

This one is not set in the south (my favorite literary locale), but rings true for beach lovers everywhere. In fact, I quickly read McKinnon’s Mystic Summer and The Lake Season when I finished this book. That’s how good it was!

When Flossy Merrill summons her children to the beloved family beach house to celebrate their father’s eightieth birthday, both cherished memories and long-kept secrets come to light. Flossy Merrill has managed to—somewhat begrudgingly—gather her three ungrateful grown children from their dysfunctional lives for a summer reunion at the family’s Rhode Island beach house. Clementine, her youngest child and a young mother of two small children, has caused Flossy the most worry after enduring a tragically life-altering year. But, Samuel and his partner Evan are not far behind in their ability to alarm: their prospective adoption search has just taken a heart-wrenching turn. Only Paige, the eldest of the headstrong Merrill clan, is her usual self: arriving precisely on time with her well-adapted teens. Little does her family know that she, too, is facing personal struggles of her own.

No matter. With her family finally congregated under one seaside roof, Flossy is determined to steer her family back on course even as she prepares to reveal the fate of the summer house that everyone has thus far taken for granted: she’s selling it. The Merrill children are both shocked and outraged and each returns to memories of their childhoods at their once beloved summer house—the house where they have not only grown up, but from which they have grown away. With each lost in their respective heartaches, Clementine, Samuel, and Paige will be forced to reconsider what really matters before they all say goodbye to a house that not only defined their summers, but, ultimately, the ways in which they define themselves.

 Staycation

 Staying home for vacation this summer? No problem! Let these books transport you to another place.

The Destroyers Christopher Bolen (Harper, June 27)

From the author of Orient comes an explosive tale of wealth, deceit, and murder—reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall—set on an idyllic Greek island that is home to the international jet set.

“When Charlie and I were young, we played a game called Destroyers. . . . We were sharpening our instincts, jettisoning attachments. We were honing strategies for survival. . . .”

Arriving on the Greek island of Patmos, broke and humiliated, Ian Bledsoe is fleeing the emotional and financial fall-out from his father’s death. His childhood friend Charlie—rich and exuberant and basking in the success of his new venture on the island—could be his last hope.

At first Patmos appears to be a dream—long sun-soaked days on Charlie’s yacht and the reappearance of a girlfriend from Ian’s past—and Charlie readily offers Ian the lifeline he so desperately needs. But, like Charlie himself, this beautiful island conceals a darkness beneath and it isn’t long before the dream begins to fragment. When Charlie suddenly vanishes, Ian finds himself caught up in deception after deception. As he grapples with the turmoil left in his friend’s wake, he is reminded of an imaginary game called Destroyers they played as children—a game, he now realizes, they may have never stopped playing.

Geography of Genius Eric Weiner (Simon & Schuster, out now)

Tag along on this New York Times bestselling “witty, entertaining romp” (The New York Times Book Review) as Eric Winer travels the world, from Athens to Silicon Valley—and back through history, too—to show how creative genius flourishes in specific places at specific times.

In this “intellectual odyssey, traveler’s diary, and comic novel all rolled into one” (Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness), acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. A “superb travel guide: funny, knowledgeable, and self-deprecating” (The Washington Post), he explores the history of places like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. With his trademark insightful humor, this “big-hearted humanist” (The Wall Street Journal) walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, “What was in the air, and can we bottle it?”

A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson (Broadway Books, out now)

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

Read the book, and then rent the 2015 movie adaption starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking (William Morrow, out now)

Embrace hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness and well-being

Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge—pronounced Hoo-ga—is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”

Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day.

Lost City of Z David Graham (Knoph Doubleday, out now)

I truly love adventure stories, and this is one of the best. Please, please, please read this now, before watching the movie starring Charlie Hunnam.

 A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century”: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But, Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization—which he dubbed “Z”—existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.

Fawcett’s fate—and the tantalizing clues he left behind about “Z”—became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists and adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party and the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes, or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, and the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s “green hell.” His quest for the truth and his stunning discoveries about Fawcett’s fate and “Z” form the heart of this complex, enthralling narrative.

 Everyone loves a good mystery

 Testimony Scott Turow (Grand Central Publishing, out now)

 Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author and “one of the major writers in America” (NPR), returns with a page-turning legal thriller about an American prosecutor’s investigation of a refugee camp’s mystifying disappearance.

At the age of fifty, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court—an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity—he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over ten years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp’s Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night-and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived.

Boom’s task is to examine Ferko’s claims and determinine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court’s base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia and secret meetings in Washington, DC, as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case: Layton Merriwell, a disgraced US major general desperate to salvage his reputation; Sergeant Major Atilla Doby,a vital cog in American military operations near the camp at the time of the Roma’s disappearance; Laza Kajevic, the brutal former leader of the Bosnian Serbs; Esma Czarni, Ferko’s alluring barrister; and of course, Ferko himself, on whose testimony the entire case rests-and who may know more than he’s telling.

The Good Widow Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (Lake Union Publishing, June 1)

Bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its difficulties it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And, he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But, it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So, he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And, most certainly not his death…

Do Not Become Alarmed Maile Meloy (Riverhead Books, June 6)

What can I say about this one? It rocks! A foreign locale, a mystery, every parent’s nightmare. Wow!

From a beloved, award-winning writer, the much-anticipated novel about what happens when two families go on a tropical vacation—and the children go missing.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. The children—two eleven-year-olds, an eight-year-old, and a six-year-old—love the nonstop buffet and the independence they have at the Kids’ Club. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor misfortunes leads the families farther and farther from the ship’s safety. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a riveting, revealing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the once-happy parents—now turning on one another and blaming themselves—try to recover their children and their lives.

Dark Matter Blake Crouch (Broadway Books, out now)

This book was the one EVERYONE was talkling about last year. So, if you haven’t read it, DO SO NOW! It’s sci-fi for the person who doesn’t like sci-fi. It’s mystery for the mystery lover. It’s even a little romantic! An ordinary man is kidnapped, knocked unconscious— and awakens in a world inexplicably different from the reality he thought he knew in a brilliantly mind-bending science-fiction thriller.

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And, someone is hunting him.

Is the life Jason remembers just some crazed dream? And, can he survive long enough to discover the answers he needs?

The Sleepwalker Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday, out now) From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire—the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night.

When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?

Beartown Fredrick Backman (Atria Books, out now)

I did not pick this one up right away. Sorry that I didn’t! I had it on my kindle for a few weeks and really did not plan to read it. Then I heard and read so may people talking about it. So, I gave it a chance. WOW! It is amazing. 

 The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But, down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And, in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

The Unquiet Grave Sharyn McCrumb (Atria, July 4)

Another one of my favorite authors hits it out of the park with this one! McCrumb writes Appalachian mysteries with folklore and so much more. Her novels are atmospheric and put you right in the middle of the big forest we call home. 

This novel is set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.

Lakin, West Virginia, 1930

Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P. D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Boozer is eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, and encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. Gardner’s most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost.

Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897

Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence from the newlyweds, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died from a fall, attributed to a recent illness. Mary Jane is determined to get justice for her daughter. A month after the funeral, she informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered. An autopsy, ordered by the reluctant prosecutor, confirms her claim.

Full Wolf Moon Lincoln Child (Doubleday, out now) The New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Room and Deep Storm is back with a new thriller that follows the trail of a killer who cannot exist . . . featuring Jeremy Logan, the renowned investigator of the supernatural and fantastic.

Legends, no matter how outlandish, are often grounded in reality. This has been the guiding principle behind the exhilarating career of Jeremy Logan, the “enigmologist”—an investigator who specializes in analyzing phenomena that have no obvious explanation—previously seen in The Forgotten Room, The Third Gate, and Deep Storm. Logan has often found himself in situations where keeping an open mind could mean the difference between life and death, and that has never been more true than now.

Logan travels to an isolated writers’ retreat deep in the Adirondacks to finally work on his book when the remote community is rocked by the grisly discovery of a dead hiker on Desolation Mountain. The body has been severely mauled, but the unusual savagery of the bite and claw marks call into question the initial suspicions of a wild bear attack. When Logan is asked to help investigate, he discovers no shortage of suspects capable of such an attack—and no shortage of locals willing to point the finger and spread incredible rumors. One rumor, too impossible to believe, has even the forest ranger believing in werewolves. As Logan gets to know the remote deep-woods landscape, including a respected woman scientist still struggling with the violent loss of her father in these very woods, Logan realizes he’s up against something he has never seen before.

His most action-packed and white-knuckled novel to date, Full Wolf Moon is the perfect combination of exotic locales, provocative science, and raw action that make for a deeply entertaining Lincoln Child blockbuster.

gets went out, Karen white, The Force Don Winslow (William Morrow, June 20)

The acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cartel—voted one of the Best Books of the Year by more than sixty publications, including the New York Times—makes his William Morrow debut with a cinematic epic as explosive, powerful, and unforgettable as Mystic River and The Wire

Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true . . .

All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.

He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

This is the great cop novel of our time and a book only Don Winslow could write: a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve. A searing portrait of a city on the edge and of a courageous, heroic, and deeply flawed man who stands at the edge of its abyss, Untitled is a masterpiece of urban realism full of shocking and surprising twists, leavened by flashes of dark humor, a morally complex and utterly riveting dissection of modern American society and the controversial issues confronting us today.

And now, something fun!

Yes! Summer is the time to relax and have fun in your reading life.

The Almost Sisters Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow, July 11)

Another of my very favorite writers is Joshilyn Jackson. Read this, fallin love with her writing, and then her backlist novels including Between, Georgia, Backseat Saints, and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty!

With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy-an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

Rich People Problems Kevin Kwan (Doubleday, out now)

I discovered Kwan several years ago when I read Crazy Rich Asians. Awesome, hilarious book. Then I followed that up with China Rich Girlfriend. Still impressed! And this one does not disappoint!

An uproarious new novel of a family riven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia’s greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance. 

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he’s not alone. The entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe to stake claim on their matriarch’s massive fortune. With each family member vying to inherit Tyersall Park—a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore—Nicholas’s childhood home turns into a hotbed of speculation and sabotage. As her relatives fight over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by her ex-husband—a man hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to China’s second richest man, billionaire Jack Bing, still feels second best next to her new step-daughter, famous fashionista Colette Bing. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong’s most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace, caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi, Kevin Kwan’s hilarious, gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia’s most privileged families and their rich people problems. 

Kiss Carlo Adriana Trigiani (Harper, June 20)

Yes, yet one more favorite author. Did you read Big Stone Gap? Or, see the movie? Well this is her! She has a host of really, really great books. Read this, and my money says you will be searching for more of her titles! 

Trigiani explores the vibrant, complex Italian-American experience in this dazzling novel that brings to life the golden years of post-war America—a celebration of ambition, risk, love, reinvention and one remarkable family with a secret, the Palazzinis

It’s 1949 in south Philadelphia. Diligent, hard-working and proud, the Palazzinis have built a solid life for themselves and their three sons. Now that World War II is over, their sons, each one a decorated veteran, have returned home to the family cab company, to rejoin their world as it was before they left.

But their future and fortunes are forever changed by a telegram, and the nephew who delivers it.

Nicky Castone has lived with the Palazzinis since he was orphaned as a boy. Doted on by his aunt, loved by his cousins and employed by his uncle, he, too, has returned, without a medal, to his room in the family’s basement and his job as a hack.

While the boys were away, their father installed a Western Union Telegraph Office in the garage at the insistence of his wife, so she might be the first to hear of any news about her sons overseas. The telegrams are sent and received by the cab dispatcher Hortense Mooney, an African-American woman who has worked for the family for twernty years. In the early hours of an ordinary morning in 1949, the office receives a telegram bearing urgent news for the small Italian American village of Roseto, sixty miles northeast of the city. Hortense dispatches Nicky to make the long, pre-dawn drive to deliver the telegram.

When Nicky arrives in Roseto as the sun is rising, he has an epiphany—a revelation that will change the course of his life and the lives of the Palazzini family, Hortense Mooney, and the people of Roseto, including the despondent young widow Mamie Confalone, the beat cop Eddie Giaquinto, the town mayor Giorgio DeNegri, and his daughter Rosa.

A captivating, multilayered novel about the power of family secrets, the triumph of true love over grief, and the courage to risk everything for the American dream, Italian style—Kiss Carlo is Adriana Trigiani at her inimitable best.

Fitness Junkie Lucy Sykes (Doubleday, July 11)

Another book I did not delve into right away, and once again, I was sorry I waited. This book is drop-dead funny and I can’t wait to read her previous novel, The Knockoff.

An outrageously funny novel about one woman’s attempt—through clay diets, naked yoga, green juice, and cultish workout classes—to win back her career, save her best friend, and lose thirty pounds.

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

Historical Fiction

Some readers say they only read historical fiction in the depths of winter, but we say why wait? Anytime is a great time to get lost in another time and place. Side note – historical fiction is my all-time favorite genre and I am so excited to share these books. 

A Bridge Across the Ocean Susan Meissner (Berkley, March 14)

Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.

February, 1946. World War Two is over, and Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy, join hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to be reunited with their American husbands. But when the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

The Alice Network Kate Quinn (William Morrow, June 6)

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption

“Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

The Address Fiona Davis (Dutton, August 1)

Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, out now) 

No, this is not a new release. In fact, it’s been around for a long while. But, it is one of my top –three all-time favorite books. I think everyone should read it. The writing is beautiful – mystical. And it is full of mystery and even life lessons. 

“An irresistible work of storytelling, mixing the magic of the fairy tale, the realistic detail of the domestic novel and the breadth of the family saga.”—New York Times

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a classic novel known throughout the world. One of the 20th century’s enduring works of art, it is the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize-winning career.

The story of the village of Macondo, as seen through the lives of the Buendia family, is told with Marquez’s trademark mastery of magical realism. Alternately reverential and comical, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves the political, personal and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. No less than an accounting of the history of the human race, the novel has been translated into dozens of languages, making it a classic of truly global proportions.

Where the Light Falls Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki (Random House, July 11)

A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki

Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with the spirit of revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife, Marie, and their infant son from their comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced duke, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. And Sophie, a beautiful aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle.

As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, André, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely—for themselves, and indeed, for the nation.

Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Maximilien Robespierre, King Louis XVI, and Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon’s epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their beliefs in a cause greater than themselves.

Something different

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Bryn Dunwood (Thomas Dunne Books, August 9)

A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.

As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It’s safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy’s family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

In the Days of Rain Rebecca Stott (Random House, July 4)

 A father-daughter story that tells of the author’s experience growing up in a fundamentalist, separatist Christian cult, from the author of the national bestseller Ghostwalk

Rebecca Stott both adored and feared her father, Roger Stott, a high-ranking minister in the Brighton, England, branch of the Exclusive Brethren, a separatist fundamentalist Christian sect. A man of contradictions, he preached that the Brethren should shun the outside world, which was ruled by Satan, yet he kept a radio in the trunk of his car and read Shakespeare and Yeats. Years later, when the Stotts broke with the Brethren after a scandal involving the cult’s leader, Roger became an actor and compulsive gambler who left the family penniless and ended up in jail.

A curious child, Rebecca spent her insular childhood asking questions about the world, questions that went ignored, and trying to glean the answers from forbidden library books. Only when she was an adult and her father was dying of cancer did Rebecca begin to understand all that had happened during those harrowing years. It was then that Roger Stott handed Rebecca the memoir he had begun writing about the period leading up to what he called the traumatic “Nazi decade,” the years in the 1960s in which he and other Brethren leaders enforced coercive codes of behavior that led to the breaking apart of families, the shunning of members, even suicides. Now he was trying to examine that time, and his complicity in it, and he asked Rebecca to write about it, to expose all that was kept hidden.

In the Days of Rain is Rebecca Stott’s attempt to make sense of her childhood in the Exclusive Brethren, to understand her father’s role in the cult and in the breaking apart of her family, and to come to be at peace with her relationship with a larger-than-life figure whose faults were matched by a passion for life, a thirst for knowledge, and a love of literature and beauty. A father-daughter story as well as a memoir of growing up in a closed-off community and then finding a way out of it, this is an inspiring and beautiful account of the bonds of family and the power of self-invention.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah (Random House, out now)

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life all the Way Ryan White (Touchstone, out now)

A candid, compelling, and rollicking portrait of the pirate captain of Margaritaville—Jimmy Buffett.

In Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, acclaimed music critic Ryan White has crafted the first definitive account of Buffett’s rise from singing songs for beer to his emergence as a tropical icon and CEO behind the Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of merchandise, chain restaurants, resorts, and lifestyle products all inspired by his sunny but disillusioned hit “Margaritaville.”

Filled with interviews from friends, musicians, Coral Reefer Band members past and present, and business partners who were there, this book is a top-down joyride with plenty of side trips and meanderings from Mobile and Pascagoula to New Orleans, Key West, down into the islands aboard the Euphoria and the Euphoria II, and into the studios and onto the stages where the foundation of Buffett’s reputation was laid.

Buffett wasn’t always the pied piper of beaches, bars, and laid-back living. Born on the Gulf Coast, the son of a son of a sailing ship captain, Buffett scuffed around New Orleans in the late sixties, flunked out of Nashville (and a marriage) in 1971, and found refuge among the artists, dopers, shrimpers, and genuine characters who’d collected at the end of the road in Key West. And it was there, in those waning outlaw days at the last American exit, where Buffett, like Hemingway before him, found his voice and eventually brought to life the song that would launch Parrot Head nation.

And just where is Margaritaville? It’s wherever it’s five o’clock; it’s wherever there’s a breeze and salt in the air; and it’s wherever Buffett sets his bare feet, smiles, and sings his songs.

Stranger in the Woods Michael Finkel (Knoph, out now)

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own. 

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

Priestdaddy Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead, out now)

From a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice—a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about having a married Catholic priest for a father.

Fr. Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.

In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cult-like Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her sexual education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother.

In her beautifully written prose debut, Lockwood effortlessly pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, describing how she found her voice as a writer, reflecting on the Church’s recent history of scandal and abuse, and exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood.

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate Al Franken (Hatchette, May 30)

From Senator Al Franken – #1 bestselling author and beloved SNLalum – comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.

This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect.

It’s a book about what happens when the nation’s foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

It’s a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.

In this candid personal memoir, the honorable gentleman from Minnesota takes his army of loyal fans along with him from Saturday Night Live to the campaign trail, inside the halls of Congress, and behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic and/or hilarious moments of his new career in politics.

Has Al Franken become a true Giant of the Senate? Franken asks readers to decide for themselves.

The Potlikker Papers John T. Edge (Penguin Press, out now)

“ – the one food book you should read this year.” Southern Living

A people’s history of Southern food that reveals how the region came to be at the forefront of American culinary culture and how issues of race have shaped Southern cuisine over the last six decades

The Potlikker Papers tells the story of food and politics in the South over the last half century. Beginning with the pivotal role of cooks in the Civil Rights movement, noted authority John T. Edge narrates the South’s journey from racist backwater to a hotbed of American immigration. In so doing, he traces how the food of the poorest Southerners has become the signature trend of modern American haute cuisine. This is a people’s history of the modern South told through the lens of food.

Food was a battleground in the Civil Rights movement. Access to food and ownership of culinary tradition was a central part of the long march to racial equality.The Potlikker Papers begins in 1955 as black cooks and maids fed and supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott and it concludes in 2015 as a Newer South came to be, enriched by the arrival of immigrants from Lebanon to Vietnam to all points in between.

Along the way, Edge tracks many different evolutions of Southern identity—first in the 1970s, from the back-to-the-land movement that began in the Tennessee hills to the rise of fast and convenience foods modeled on Southern staples. Edge narrates the gentrification that gained traction in North Carolina and Louisiana restaurants of the 1980s and the artisanal renaissance that reconnected farmers and cooks in the 1990s and in the 00s. He profiles some of the most extraordinary and fascinating figures in Southern food, including Fannie Lou Hamer, Colonel Sanders, Edna Lewis, Paul Prudhomme, Craig Claiborne, Sean Brock, and many others.

Like many great provincial dishes around the world, potlikker is a salvage food. During the antebellum era, masters ate the greens from the pot and set aside the left-over potlikker broth for their slaves, unaware that the broth, not the greens, was nutrient-rich. After slavery, potlikker sustained the working poor, black and white. In the rapidly gentrifying South of today, potlikker has taken on new meanings as chefs have reclaimed the dish.

Killers of the Flower Moon David Grann (Knoph Doubleday, out now)

#1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z (reviewed above), a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances. 

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. The book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

Missoula John Krakauer (Random House, out now)

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action. 

Lost City of the Monkey God Douglas Preston (Grand Central Publishing, out now)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston takes readers on an adventure deep into the Honduran jungle in this riveting, danger-filled narrative about the discovery of an ancient lost civilization

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world’s densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012, he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city, but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But, it wasn’t until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.

Beach House Cookbook Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin’s Press, out now)

If you have read Andrews’ novels, you know she loves food. They make you hungry just reading them! So, it is no surprise she is great cook. I was thrilled with this cookbook from another of my very favorite southern authors. (Read this, cook up some great food, and sit back and enjoy her novels The Weekenders, Beach Town, or Summer Rental!)

You don’t have to own a beach house to enjoy Mary Kay Andrews’ recipes. All you need is an appetite for delicious, casual dishes, cooked with the best fresh, local ingredients and presented with the breezy flair that make Mary Kay Andrews’ novels a summertime favorite at the beach.

From an early spring dinner of cherry balsamic-glazed lamb chops and bacon-kissed green beans, to Fourth of July buttermilk-brined fried chicken, yuppie potato salad, and Coca-Cola cake, to her New Year’s Day Open House menu of charcoal-grilled oysters, home-cured gravlax, grits n’ greens casserole, and Meyer lemon bar trifle, this cookbook will supply ideas for menus and recipes designed to put you in a permanently carefree coastal state of mind all year long.