The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams
The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?
Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.
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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell. The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
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The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn
In 1914 Henry Ford and naturalist John Burroughs visited Thomas Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The following year Ford, Edison, and tire maker Harvey Firestone joined together on a summer camping trip and decided to call themselves the Vagabonds. They would continue their summer road trips until 1925, when they announced that their fame made it too difficult for them to carry on.
Although the Vagabonds traveled with an entourage of chefs, butlers, and others, this elite fraternity also had a serious purpose: to examine the conditions of America’s roadways and improve the practicality of automobile travel. Cars were unreliable and the roads were even worse. But newspaper coverage of these trips was extensive, and as cars and roads improved, the summer trip by automobile soon became a desired element of American life.
In The Vagabonds Jeff Guinn shares the story of this pivotal moment in American history. But he also examines the important relationship between the older Edison and the younger Ford, who once worked for the famous inventor. The road trips made the automobile ubiquitous and magnified Ford’s reputation, even as Edison’s diminished. The automobile had come of age and it would transform the American landscape, the American economy, and the American way of life.
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Under Currents by Nora Roberts
Within the walls of a tasteful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, young Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Zane and his sister know the truth: There is something terribly wrong.
As his father’s violent, controlling rages―and his mother’s complicity―become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. He looks out for little Britt, warning her Be smart. Be careful. In fear for his very life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away. When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the façade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts.
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Sophia, Princess Among Beasts by James Patterson
A princess who has lost her mother and father finds herself in a terrifying world that urgently needs a queen. Sophia is smart, beautiful, and accomplished, a beloved princess devoted to the people and to reading books. The kingdom is hers, until she is plunged into a nightmarish realm populated by the awful beasts she read about as a child.
The beasts are real. And so is the great army marching on her castle. The people look to Sophia for protection. They will all perish unless she can unlock an ancient secret as profound as life and death itself.
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The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb by Sam Kean
Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely have the secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research; Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capabaility to reverse the entire D-Day operation and conquer Europe. So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses – dubbed the Alsos Mission – and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany’s feared Uranium Club. No theater of the war, from battlefields to laboratories, was considered off-limits, and for good reason: the entire outcome of the war rested on its shoulders.
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but it’s the incredible characters – both heroes and rogues alike – who make this story sing. There’s an ex-Major League baseball catcher turned clandestine spy. There’s Joe Kennedy Jr., who died trying to out-macho his kid brother, future president John F. Kennedy. There’s a Dutch physicist who, while hunting down top German scientists, also needed to save his Jewish parents from the concentration camps. There are Nobel Prize winners like Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, and Irène Joliot-Curie, daughter of Marie Curie. And dozens more. Thrust into the dark world of international espionage, these scientists and soldiers played a vital and largely untold role in turning back one of the darkest tides in human history.
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Vincent and Alice and Alice by Shane Jones
Being home all the time is depressing, so I tell my boss “I’m ready for anything” in the strongest conference call voice in the world while driving my hand into a family-sized bag of tortilla chips. Without a future, no Alice, I’m ready for an adventure. Meet Vincent. After his divorce from Alice he’s lost his way, and is mindlessly working for the State, counting down the days till retirement. When his boss tells him to participate in a program that promises not only to increase productivity, but show him his “ideal life” he thinks: what’s the harm? Others have seen new marked improvements in productivity and personal happiness. Willing to try anything to move away from the heartbreak of Alice, Vincent reluctantly complies.
But what the program shows him, is that his ideal life is simply Alice. She’s back. Is she real? A clone? A hologram? Despite the lingering questions, Vincent eases back into love and begins to live his life again with Alice, that is, until the real Alice returns.
The Trouble with Gravity: Solving the Mystery Beneath Our Feet by Richard Panek
What is gravity? Nobody knows—and just about nobody knows that nobody knows. How something so pervasive can also be so mysterious, and how that mystery can be so wholly unrecognized outside the field of physics, is one of the greatest conundrums in modern science. But as award-winning author Richard Panek shows in this groundbreaking book, gravity is a cold case that we are closer to cracking than ever—and whose very investigation has yielded untold truths about the cosmos and humanity itself.
Part scientific detective story, part metaphysical romp, The Trouble with Gravity is a revelation: the first in-depth, accessible study of this ubiquitous, elusive force. Gravity and our efforts to understand it, Panek reveals, have shaped not only the world we inhabit, but also our bodies, minds, and culture. Its influence can be seen in everything from ancient fables to modern furniture, Dante’s Inferno to the pratfalls of Laurel and Hardy, bipedalism to black holes. As we approach the truth about gravity, we should also be prepared to know both our universe and ourselves as never before.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls – a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place – Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly light-hearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become, and establishes Craig Davidson as a remarkable literary talent.
The Need by Helen Phillips
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows. But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.
Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.
The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele
What if the end times allowed people to see and build the world anew? This is the landscape that Kimi Eisele creates in her surprising and original debut novel. Evoking the spirit of such monumental love stories as Cold Mountain and the creative vision of novels like Station Eleven, The Lightest Object in the Universe imagines what happens after the global economy collapses and the electrical grid goes down.
In this new world, Carson, on the East Coast, is desperate to find to Beatrix, a woman on the West Coast who holds his heart. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be saved by an evangelical preacher in the middle of the country. While Carson travels west, Beatrix and her neighbors begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could be, in fact, a bright beginning.
Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier
This is the story of the subsequent four years of globe-trotting culinary adventure, with Gordinier joining renowned chef René Redzepi as his Sancho Panza. In the jungle of the Yucatán peninsula, Redzepi and his comrades go off-road in search of the perfect taco and the secrets of molé. In idyllic Sydney, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery on surf-lashed beaches. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to what may or may not be his secret cache of the world’s finest sea urchins. And back in Copenhagen, the quiet canal-lined city where Redzepi started it all, he plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Along the way, readers meet Redzepi’s merry band of friends and collaborators, including acclaimed chefs such as Danny Bowien, Kylie Kwong, Rosio Sánchez, David Chang, and Enrique Olvera.
The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess
In the summer of 1987, 25-year-old Eve Rosen is an aspiring writer languishing in a low-level assistant job, unable to shake the shadow of growing up with her brilliant brother. With her professional ambitions floundering, Eve jumps at the chance to attend an early summer gathering at the Cape Cod home of famed New Yorker writer Henry Grey and his poet wife, Tillie. Dazzled by the guests and her burgeoning crush on the hosts’ artistic son, Eve lands a new job as Henry Grey’s research assistant and an invitation to Henry and Tillie’s exclusive and famed “Book Party”― where attendees dress as literary characters. But by the night of the party, Eve discovers uncomfortable truths about her summer entanglements and understands that the literary world she so desperately wanted to be a part of is not at all what it seems.
Salvation Day by Kali Wallace
A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller. They thought the ship would be their salvation.
Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead. And then they woke it up.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents―her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father―and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver.
And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds―the natural one and our own―“the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.”