The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins
When Ruby McTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore dies, she’s not only North Carolina’s richest woman, she’s also its most notorious. The victim of a famous kidnapping as a child and a widow four times over, Ruby ruled the tiny town of Tavistock from Ashby House, her family’s estate high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
But in the aftermath of her death, her adopted son, Camden, wants little to do with the house or the money―and even less to do with the surviving McTavishes. Instead, he rejects his inheritance, settling into a normal life as an English teacher in Colorado and marrying Jules, a woman just as eager to escape her own messy past.
Ten years later, his uncle’s death pulls Cam and Jules back into the family fold at Ashby House. Its views are just as stunning as ever, its rooms just as elegant, but the legacy of Ruby is inescapable.
Northwoods by Amy Pease
Eli North is not okay. His drinking is getting worse by the day, his emotional wounds after a deployment to Afghanistan are as raw as ever, his marriage and career are over, and the only job he can hold down is with the local sheriff’s department. And that’s only because the sheriff is his mother—and she’s overwhelmed with small town Shaky Lake’s dwindling budget and the fallout from the opioid epidemic. The Northwoods of Wisconsin may be a vacationer’s paradise, but amidst the fishing trips and campfires and Paul Bunyan festivals, something sinister is taking shape.
When the body of a teenage boy is found in the lake, it sets in motion an investigation that leads Eli to a wealthy enclave with a violent past, a pharmaceutical salesman, and a missing teenage girl. Soon, Eli and his mother, along with a young FBI agent, are on the hunt for more than just a killer.
Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend by Emma R. Alban
It’s 1857, and anxious debutante Beth has just one season to snag a wealthy husband, or she and her mother will be out on the street. But playing the blushing ingenue makes Beth’s skin crawl and she’d rather be anywhere but here.
Gwen, on the other hand, is on her fourth season and counting, with absolutely no intention of finding a husband, possibly ever. She figures she has plenty of security as the only daughter of a rakish earl, from whom she’s gotten all her flair, fun, and less-than-proper party games.
“Let’s get them together,” she says.
It doesn’t take long for Gwen to hatch her latest scheme: rather than surrender Beth to courtship, they should set up Gwen’s father and Beth’s newly widowed mother. Let them get married instead. There’s just…one, teeny, tiny problem. Their parents kind of seem to hate each other.
1000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round by Jami Attenberg
In 2018, novelist Jami Attenberg, faced with a looming deadline, needed writing inspiration. Using a bootcamp model, she and a friend set out to write one thousand words daily for two weeks straight. They opened this practice to Attenberg’s online community and soon hundreds then thousands of people started using the #1000WordsofSummer hashtag to track their work and support one another. What began as a simple challenge between two friends has become a literary movement—write 1,000 words per day without judgment, or bias, or concerns about writer’s block, and see what comes of it.
1000 Words is the book-length extension of this movement. It is about becoming—and staying—motivated, discovering yourself and your creative desires, and approaching your craft from a new direction. It features advice from more than fifty well-known writers, including New York Times bestsellers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and stars of the literary world. Framing these letters are words of wisdom and encouragement, plus specific strategies, from Attenberg on how to carve out a creative path for yourself all year round.
California Bear by Duane Swierczynski
THE GIRL DETECTIVE: Fifteen-year-old Matilda Finnerty has been handed a potential death sentence in the form of a leukemia diagnosis. But that’s not going to stop her from tackling the most important mystery of her life: Is her father guilty of murder?
GENE JEANIE: Jeanie Hightower mends family trees for a living, but the genealogist is unable to repair her own marriage. And her soon-to-be ex may have entangled her in a scheme that has drawn the bloody wrath of…
THE BEAR: A prolific serial killer who disappeared forty years ago, who is only now emerging from hibernation when the conditions are just right. And this time, the California Bear is not content to hunt in the shadows…
Cold Victory by Karl Marlantes
Helsinki, 1947. Finland teeters between the Soviet Union and the West. Everyone is being watched. A wrong look or a wrong word could end in catastrophe. Natalya Bobrova, from Russia, and Louise Koski, from the United States, are young wives of their country’s military attachés. When they meet at an embassy party, their husbands, Arnie and Mikhail, both world-class skiers, drunkenly challenge each other to a friendly – but secret – cross-country wilderness race.
Louise is delighted, but Natalya is worried. Stalin and Beria’s secret police rule with unforgiving brutality. If news of the race gets out and Mikhail loses, Natalya knows it would mean his death, her imprisonment, and the loss of her two children. Meanwhile, Louise, who is childless, uses the race as an opportunity to raise money for a local orphanage, naïve to the danger it will bring to Natalya and her family. Too late to stop Louise’s scheme, a horrified Natalya watches as news of the race spreads across the globe as newspapers and politicians spin it as a symbolic battle: freedom versus communism. Desperate to undo her mistake, Louise must reach Arnie to tell him to throw the race and save Mikhail – but how? The two racers are in a world of their own, unreachable in Finland’s arctic wilderness.
Death Under a Little Sky by Stig Abell
For years, Jake Jackson has been a high-flying detective in London. But then one day he receives a letter from his reclusive uncle – he has left Jake his property in the middle of the countryside. For Jake, it is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start.
At first, life in the middle of nowhere is everything Jake could wish for. His new home is beautiful, his surroundings are stunning, and he enjoys getting back to nature.
But then, what starts as a fun village treasure hunt turns deadly, when a young woman’s bones are discovered. And Jake is thrust once again into the role of detective, as he tries to unearth a dangerous killer in this most unlikely of settings.
Everyone But Myself by Julie Chavez
Like so many mothers, Julie Chavez ran herself ragged trying to meet the needs of everyone else, until an unexpected panic attack forced her to find a new way. Funny, deeply honest, and inspiring for readers feeling overwhelmed in their own lives, Everyone But Myself feels like a best friend sharing how she pulled herself back to solid ground while embracing chaos along the way.
For Chavez, an elementary school librarian and mother of two boys, the signs of mounting anxiety and depression had been present for a while, though she had done her very best to ignore them. Then, one night, while her husband was away on business, Julie found herself locked in a debilitating panic attack that threw her life into a tailspin. The terrifying aftershocks left her grappling with questions about the origin of her anxiety and where it would lead next.
Goldenseal by Maria Hummel
As young adults meeting at summer camp in Maine, and later making their way in the glitzy spotlight of postwar Hollywood, Edith and Lacey share a deep-rooted bond that once saved them from isolation and despair, providing comfort from the public and private traumas that they had each endured and which a newly optimistic world was eager to forget. Told through a continuous, twisting conversation that unfolds over the course of a single evening, in which each woman tells her story and reveals long-hidden secrets, the narratives of Edith and Lacey burn with atmosphere, mystery, resentment, and regret.
Set against the vivid landscapes of Los Angeles and unfolding with the evanescence of a dream or a memory, Goldenseal peels away the layers of an intimate female friendship to reveal a stirring and haunting story about the search for connection and the lingering echoes of lost love.
Holiday Country by İnci Atrek
Ada adores spending every summer in a Turkish seaside town with her mother and grandmother at the family villa. The glittering waters, endless olive groves, and her spirited friends make it easy to leave her idle life in California behind. But no matter how much Ada feels she belongs to the country where her mother grew up, deep down, her connection to the culture feels as fleeting as the seasons.
When Levent, a mysterious man from her mother’s past, shows up in their town, Ada can’t help but imagine a different future for her mother―one that promises a return to home, to love, to happiness. But while playing matchmaker, Ada has to come to terms with her own intensifying attraction to Levent. Does the future she’s fighting for belong to her mother―or to her alone?
Invisible Woman by Katia Lief
Joni Ackerman’s decision to raise children, 25 years ago, came with a steep cost. She was then a pioneering filmmaker, one of the few women to break into the all-male Hollywood club of feature film directors. But she and her husband Paul had always wanted a family, and his ascending career at a premier television network provided a safety net. Now they’ve recently transplanted to Brooklyn, so that Paul can launch a major East Coast production studio, when a scandal rocks the film industry and forces Joni to revisit a secret from long ago involving her friend Val.
Joni is adamant that the time has come to tell the story, but Val and Paul are reluctant, for different reasons. As the marriage frays and the friends spar about whether to speak up, Joni’s struggles with isolation in a new city, and old resentments about the sacrifices she made on her family’s behalf start to boil over. She takes solace, of sorts, in the novels of Patricia Highsmith—particularly the masterpiece Strangers on a Train, with its duplicitous characters and their murderous impulses—until the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred.
Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire
Antsy is the latest student to pass through the doors at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children When the school’s (literally irresistible) mean girl realizes that Antsy’s talent for finding absolutely anything may extend to doors, Antsy is forced to flee in the company of a small group of friends, looking for a way back to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go to be sure that Vineta and Hudson are keeping their promise.
Along the way, they will travel from a world which hides painful memories that cut as sharply as its beauty, to a land that time wasn’t yet old enough to forget—and more than one student’s life will change forever.
One of the Good Guys by Araminta Hall
Newly separated from his wife and desperate to escape the ghosts of his failed marriage, Cole leaves London for a fresh start in the countryside. He accepts a job as a wildlife ranger and settles into his cozy seaside cottage, relishing the respite from the noise, drama, and relentless careerism that curdled his relationship along with his mental health. Then he meets Leonora, the reclusive artist living next door, and is instantly charmed by her warm and gentle spirit.
But as the two forge a connection on the cliff’s edge they call home, two young women activists raising awareness about gendered violence disappear while passing through. Cole and Leonora find themselves in the middle of a police investigation and resulting media firestorm as the world learns of what happened, and as the tension escalates, they quickly realize that they don’t know each other that well after all.
Poor Deer by Claire Oshetsky
Margaret Murphy is a weaver of fantastic tales, growing up in a world where the truth is too much for one little girl to endure. Her first memory is of the day her friend Agnes died.
No one blames Margaret. Not in so many words. Her mother insists to everyone who will listen that her daughter never even left the house that day. Left alone to make sense of tragedy, Margaret wills herself to forget these unbearable memories, replacing them with imagined stories full of faith and magic—that always end happily.
Enter Poor Deer: a strange and formidable creature who winds her way uninvited into Margaret’s made-up tales. Poor Deer will not rest until Margaret faces the truth about her past and atones for her role in Agnes’s death.
River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure
Shanghai, 2007: Fourteen-year-old Alva has always longed for more. Raised by her American expat mother, she’s never known her Chinese father, and is certain a better life awaits them in America. But when her mother announces her engagement to their wealthy Chinese landlord, Lu Fang, Alva’s hopes are dashed, and so she plots for the next best thing: the American School in Shanghai. Upon admission, though, Alva is surprised to discover an institution run by an exclusive community of expats and the ever-wilder thrills of a city where foreigners can ostensibly act as they please.
1985: In the seaside city of Qingdao, Lu Fang is a young, married man and a lowly clerk in a shipping yard. Though he once dreamed of a bright future, he is one of many casualties in his country’s harsh political reforms. So when China opens its doors to the first wave of foreigners in decades, Lu Fang’s world is split wide open after he meets an American woman who makes him confront difficult questions about his current status in life, and how much will ever be enough.
Sanctuary of the Shadow by Aurora Ascher
For humans, the circus is a place filled with wonder and amazement. For Harrow, though, it’s a place to hide from those who slaughtered her entire clan. Disguising her abilities as part of her act has kept her true identity safe for years. Until he arrives.
A strange new attraction with no name, no memory of who―or even what―he is, let alone an explanation for his odd yet deadly powers. But beneath the layers of anger and isolation, one glimpse into his inky eyes reveals a soul that calls out to the loneliness in her own. And so she chooses him.
Harrow is drawn to the darkness, to her insatiable need to soothe the beast who threatens their very existence. But with every secret she unlocks from his past, another from hers whispers free as well―luring enemies who will stop at nothing to get their final revenge on Harrow. And she’s afraid she’s given them the perfect weapon against her…because he’s not what he seems.
Sugar, Baby by Celine Saintclare
Agnes, a mixed-race 21-year-old whose life seems to be heading nowhere, works as a cleaner and spends all her money in clubs on the weekends searching for distractions from her mundane life. That is until she meets Emily, daughter of one of her cleaning clients, who lives in London and works as a model . . . and a sugar baby, dating rich older men for money.
Emily’s life is the escape Agnes has been longing for-extravagant tasting menus, champagne on tap, glamorous hotels with unlimited room service, designer gifts from dates who call her beautiful. But this new lifestyle is the last straw for her religious mother Constance.
Thrown out of her family home, Agnes moves in with Emily and the other sugar babies in their fancy London flat and is drawn deeper and deeper into their world. But these women come from money: they possess a safety net Agnes does not. And as she is thrown from one precarious relationship to the next-a married man who wants to show off the glamourous, exotic girl on his arm; a Russian billionaire’s wife who makes Agnes central to a sex party in Miami-she finds herself searching for fulfillment just as desperately as she was before.
The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan
Akbar Manzil was once a grand estate off the coast of South Africa. Now, nearly a century since it was built, it stands in ruins: an isolated boardinghouse for misfits, seeking to forget their pasts and disappear into the mansions dark corridors.
Until Sana. She and her father are the latest of Akbar Manzil’s long list of tenants, seeking a new home after suffering painful loss. Unlike the others, who choose not to look too closely at the mansion’s unsettling qualities—the strange assortment of bones in the overgrown garden, the mysterious figure seen to move sometimes at night—she is curious and questioning and finds herself irresistibly drawn to the history of the mansion. To the eerie and forgotten East Wing, home to a clutter of broken and abandoned objects—and to the locked door at its end, unopened for decades.
Behind the door is a bedroom frozen in time, with faded photographs of a couple in love and a worn diary that whispers of a dark past: the long-forgotten story of a young woman named Meena, the original owner’s second wife, who died there tragically a hundred years ago. Watching Sana from the room’s shadows is a grieving djinn, an invisible spirit who once loved Meena and has haunted the mansion since her mysterious death. Obsessed with Meena’s story, and unaware of the creature that follows her, Sana digs into the past like fingers into a wound, awakening the memories of the house itself—and dredging up old and terrible secrets that will change the lives of everyone living and dead at Akbar Manzil.
The Expectant Detectives by Kat Ailes
For Alice and her partner Joe, moving to the sleepy village of Penton is a chance to embrace country life and prepare for the birth of their unplanned but welcome first child. He can take up woodwork; maybe she’ll learn to make jam? But the rural idyll they’d hoped for doesn’t quite pan out when a dead body is discovered at their local prenatal class, and they find themselves suspects in a murder investigation.
With a cloud of suspicion hanging over the heads of the whole group, Alice and her new-found friends, set out to solve the mystery and clear her name, with the help of her troublesome dog, Helen. However, there are more secrets and tensions in the heart of Penton than first meet the eye. Between the discovery of a shady commune up in the woods, the unearthing of a mysterious death years earlier and the near-tragic poisoning of Helen, Alice is soon in way over her head.
The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell
On an island in the Great Massasauga Swamp―an area known as “The Waters” to the residents of nearby Whiteheart, Michigan―herbalist and eccentric Hermine “Herself” Zook has healed the local women of their ailments for generations. As stubborn as her tonics are powerful, Herself inspires reverence and fear in the people of Whiteheart, and even in her own three estranged daughters. The youngest―the beautiful, inscrutable, and lazy Rose Thorn―has left her own daughter, eleven-year-old Dorothy “Donkey” Zook, to grow up wild.
Donkey spends her days searching for truths in the lush landscape and in her math books, waiting for her wayward mother and longing for a father, unaware that family secrets, passionate love, and violent men will flood through the swamp and upend her idyllic childhood. Rage simmers below the surface of this divided community, and those on both sides of the divide have closed their doors against the enemy. The only bridge across the waters is Rose Thorn.
You Dreamed of Empires by Álvaro Enrigue
One morning in 1519, conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the city of Tenochtitlan – today’s Mexico City. Later that day, he would meet the emperor Moctezuma in a collision of two worlds, two empires, two languages, two possible futures.
Cortés was accompanied by his nine captains, his troops, and his two translators: Friar Aguilar, a taciturn, former slave, and Malinalli, a strategic, former princess. Greeted at a ceremonial welcome meal by the steely princess Atotoxli, sister and wife of Moctezuma, the Spanish nearly bungle their entrance to the city. As they await their meeting with Moctezuma – who is at a political, spiritual, and physical crossroads, and relies on hallucinogens to get himself through the day and in quest for any kind of answer from the gods – the Spanish are ensconced in the labyrinthine palace. Soon, one of Cortés’s captains, Jazmín Caldera, overwhelmed by the grandeur of the city, begins to question the ease with which they were welcomed into the city, and wonders at the risks of getting out alive, much less conquering the empire.