The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue
Rachel is a student working at a bookstore when she meets James, and it’s love at first sight. Effervescent and insistently heterosexual, James soon invites Rachel to be his roommate and the two begin a friendship that changes the course of both their lives forever. Together, they run riot through the streets of Cork city, trying to maintain a bohemian existence while the threat of the financial crash looms before them.
When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr. Fred Byrne, James helps her devise a reading at their local bookstore, with the goal that she might seduce him afterwards. But Fred has other desires. So begins a series of secrets and compromises that intertwine the fates of James, Rachel, Fred, and Fred’s glamorous, well-connected, bourgeois wife. Aching with unrequited love, shot through with delicious, sparkling humor, The Rachel Incident is a triumph.
Have You Seen Her by Catherine McKenzie
Equipped with a burner phone and a new job, Cassie Peters has left her hectic and secretive life in New York City for the refuge of her hometown of Mammoth Lakes, California. There, she begins working again with Yosemite Search and Rescue, where a case she worked a decade ago continues to haunt her.
She quickly falls into old patterns, joining a group of fellow seasonal workers and young adventurers who have made Yosemite their home during the summer. There, she meets Petal, a young woman living in a trailer with her much older wife, keeping a detailed diary of the goings on of the park, and Jada, a recent college graduate on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, documenting their journey on Instagram.
The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher
The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune refuses to back down as white supremacists attempt to thwart her work. She marches on as an activist and an educator, and as her reputation grows she becomes a celebrity, revered by titans of business and recognized by U.S. Presidents. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is awestruck and eager to make her acquaintance. Initially drawn together because of their shared belief in women’s rights and the power of education, Mary and Eleanor become fast friends confiding their secrets, hopes and dreams—and holding each other’s hands through tragedy and triumph.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, the two women begin to collaborate more closely, particularly as Eleanor moves toward her own agenda separate from FDR, a consequence of the devastating discovery of her husband’s secret love affair. Eleanor becomes a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights. And when she receives threats because of her strong ties to Mary, it only fuels the women’s desire to fight together for justice and equality.
This is the story of two different, yet equally formidable, passionate, and committed women, and the way in which their singular friendship helped form the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.
A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales
Feisty, passionate Beatrice Steele has never fit the definition of a true lady, according to the strict code of conduct that reigns in Swampshire, her small English township—she is terrible at needlework, has absolutely no musical ability, and her artwork is so bad it frightens people. Nevertheless, she lives a perfectly agreeable life with her marriage-scheming mother, prankster father, and two younger sisters— beautiful Louisa and forgettable Mary. But she harbors a dark secret: She is obsessed with the true crime cases she reads about in the newspaper. If anyone in her etiquette-obsessed community found out, she’d be deemed a morbid creep and banished from respectable society forever.
For her family’s sake, she’s vowed to put her obsession behind her. Because eligible bachelor Edmund Croaksworth is set to attend the approaching autumnal ball, and the Steele family hopes that Louisa will steal his heart. If not, Martin Grub, their disgusting cousin, will inherit the family’s estate, and they will be ruined or, even worse, forced to move to France. So Beatrice must be on her best behavior . . . which is made difficult when a disgraced yet alluring detective inexplicably shows up to the ball.
Beatrice is just holding things together when Croaksworth drops dead in the middle of a minuet. As a storm rages outside, the evening descends into a frenzy of panic, fear, and betrayal as it becomes clear they are trapped with a killer. Contending with competitive card games, tricky tonics, and Swampshire’s infamous squelch holes, Beatrice must rise above decorum and decency to pursue justice and her own desires—before anyone else is murdered.
Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.
After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: This place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.
High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?
Lay Your Body Down by Amy Suiter Clarke
After Del Walker fled her small hometown and its cult-like church, she vowed to never return. The man she loved, Lars, left her to marry the local golden girl Eve, and their romance is now the focus of Eve’s viral blog espousing the pastor’s conservative philosophy about women and marriage. But six years later, Lars is suddenly killed, and she’s convinced it couldn’t have been an accident.
When Del returns to her hometown for the funeral, she discovers the now mega-church—and the insidious, patriarchal teachings of Pastor Rick Franklin—has grown not only in size but in influence. Eve was clearly discontent in her marriage, despite the carefully constructed “Noble Wife” positivity of her blog posts, and Del knows better than anyone just how far she will go to get what she wants. Del is determined to cut through the church’s lies and corruption to find out who killed Lars—even if it means confronting the religious trauma she’s spent years trying to bury.
The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon
When the robotic god of Khuon Mo went mad, it destroyed everything it touched. It killed its priests, its city, and all its wondrous works. But in its final death throes, the god brought one thing back to life: its favorite child, Sunai. For the seventeen years since, Sunai has walked the land like a ghost, unable to die, unable to age, and unable to forget the horrors he’s seen. He’s run as far as he can from the wreckage of his faith, drowning himself in drink, drugs, and men. But when Sunai wakes up in the bed of the one man he never should have slept with, he finds himself on a path straight back into the world of gods and machines.
The Daughter Ship by Boo Trundle
Katherine, an attentive mother to her teenagers, comfortably married to her strapping provider of a husband, longs to overcome her dark thoughts and intermittent fears of sexual intimacy.
This brisk, mesmerizing version of her life is told in alternating short chapters by Truitt, Star, and Smooshed Bug—her inner children, each with their particular strategy for coping with Katherine’s past at the hands of a hopeless mother and a terrifying, seductive father. Several of her female ancestors, Confederate widows and their daughters, who’ve imposed a legacy of racism and damage on her bloodline, also join the telling.
The assembled ghosts and contenders for Katherine’s ear are gathered in a rusting WWII submarine off the coast of Virginia Beach where the truth of her life is, quite literally, submerged. Will they surface with it? Will they protect her from it, or deliver it to her?
The Other Side of Mrs. Wood by Lucy Barker
Mrs. Violet Wood is London’s premier medium, a woman of supreme ambition whose and unique abilities have earned her the admiration and trust of London’s elite. Mrs. Wood is indeed a clever and gifted seer–her skill is unmatched in predicting exactly what her wealthy patrons want to hear from the beyond.
But times are changing. First, a nosey newspaperman has begun working to expose false mediums across London. Many of Mrs. Wood’s friends—and, yes, some of her foes—have fallen to his merciless accusations. Worse yet, though Mrs. Wood’s monthly séance tables are still packed, she’s noticed that it’s been harder to snare coveted new patrons. There are rumors from America of mediums materializing full spirits. . . . How long will her audiences be content with quivering tables and candle theatrics?
Then, at one of Mrs Wood’s routine gatherings, she hears that most horrifying of sounds—a yawn. When a sweet girl with an uncanny talent for the craft turns up at her door, Mrs. Wood decides that a protégé will be just the thing to spice up her brand. But is Emmie Finch indeed the naïve ingenue she appears? Or has Mrs. Wood’s own downfall come knocking at last?
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston
Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it.
So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it.
And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again.
Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future.
The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis
When level-headed Francie arrives in Roswell, New Mexico, for her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding—complete with a true-believer bridegroom—she can’t help but roll her eyes at all the wide-eyed talk of aliens, which obviously don’t exist. Imagine her surprise, then, when she is abducted by one.
Odder still, her abductor is far from what the popular media have led her to expect, with a body like a tumbleweed and a mass of lightning-fast tentacles. Nor is Francie the only victim of the alien’s abduction spree. Before long, he has acquired a charming con man named Wade, a sweet little old lady with a casino addiction, a retiree with a huge RV and a love for old Westerns, and a UFO-chasing nutjob who is thoroughly convinced the alien intends to probe them and/or take over the planet.
But the more Francie gets to know the alien, the more convinced she becomes that he’s not an invader. That he’s in trouble and she has to help him. Only she doesn’t know how—or even what the trouble is.
Goodbye Earl by Leesa Cross-Smith
In 2004, Rosemarie, Ada, Caroline, and Kasey are in their final days of high school and on the precipice of all the things teenagers look forward to when anything in life seems possible . . . from falling in love, to finding their dream jobs, to becoming who they were meant to be.
In 2019, Kasey has returned to her small Southern hometown of Goldie for the first time since high school—and she still hasn’t told even her closest friends the truth of what really happened that summer after graduation, or what made her leave so abruptly without looking back. Now reunited with her friends in Goldie for a wedding, she’s determined to focus on the simple joy of being together again. But when she notices troubling signs that one of them might be in danger, she is catapulted back to that fateful summer. This time, Kasey refuses to let the worst moments of her past define her; this time, she knows how to protect those she loves at all costs.