Four Novels That Will Suppy Your Thriller Fix

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean we don’t want the occasional chill. So we found four novels that will get your blood pumping as we head into warmer months.

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The PassengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

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What Remains of MeWhat Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin

Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got a drawer somewhere with something hidden in it.

On June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. . . . And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?

Written with masterful precision and control, What Remains of Me brilliantly moves forward and back in time, playing out the murders side by side—interweaving subtle connections and peeling away layers of events to reveal the shocking truth.

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Missing PiecesMissing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

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The WidowThe Widow by Fiona Barton

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

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Book, Meet Book

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Today we’re introducing two books to one other– and to you– because they’re both modern retellings of books we know and love. If you adore Pride and Prejudice and/or Jane Eyre (because who doesn’t?), sit tight and hear what these clever authors have done with two beloved novels.

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EligibleELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld

From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

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Jane SteeleJANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye

“Reader, I murdered him.”

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls “superstar-caliber” and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular,” Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre.

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What To Do When You Want To Read Everything

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

One of my (Marybeth’s) favorite bands is The Blue Nile, and a line from one of their songs says “She saw the world and she wanted it all.” I think we’ve all had that feeling before– that “I want it all, I want everything,” moment. Today we’ve rounded up some stories that focus on that feeling of wanting more. Whether it’s more answers, more freedom, more love, more time, we know why the word “everything” is so evocative. And so do the characters from today’s roundup.

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All of Us and EverythingAll of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher

For fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

Note: we HIGHLY recommend this novel. It’s one of our spring book club selections and one that I (Marybeth) inhaled when I read it last fall and still rave about.

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Everything We KeepEverything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss and the euphoria of finding love again.

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Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

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Everything EverythingEverything Everything by Nicola Yoon

If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you’ll love the story of Maddy, a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken. This innovative and heartfelt debut novel unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

“But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

“Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

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How Jennifer Weiner’s New Novel Was Inspired By Her Own Life

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner | @JenniferWeiner

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner

Every creative writing student in the world hears, “Write what you know” — that your life, as you’ve lived it, can be the raw material from which you can build beautiful fiction. What they don’t tell you is that, if your life is anything close to typical, it’s so mundane and repetitive and boring that not even your own mother would want to hear about it.

Fiction’s less about committing the specifics of your day-to-day existence to the page, and more about finding those moments and using them as jumping-off points, or inspiration. What if it had happened this way? What if I’d made a different choice?

At least, that’s been true for most of what I’ve written. But WHO DO YOU LOVE is about second chances, and it really is one of those rare ripped-from-the-headline stories where the raw material of real life got repurposed as fiction.

Once upon a time, I met a guy. I was a young reporter working at my very first newspaper job; he was a recent journalism-school graduate looking for his first job, and he came to interview at my paper. After a day of meetings and writing sample stories, he got to go out to dinner with one of the staff writers (taking prospective hires out was a plum assignment, because the paper gave you fifty bucks to spend on dinner). I remember this very tall, extremely skinny guy wandering over to my desk and asking, in a deep voice, if I was done yet. I remember snapping, “No, still working!” But then we went to dinner, and we talked and talked and talked — about writing, and our families, and our favorite books and our friends.

He came to work at the paper. We dated for two years. We were madly in love. I desperately wanted to get married. And he…wasn’t ready.

Time went by. We got better jobs at bigger papers. In our late 20’s, when he was in New York and I was in Philadelphia, we dated again. I still loved him. I still wanted to get married. And he..still wasn’t ready.

More time went on. 9-11 happened and, like everyone else in the world who knew someone in New York City, I frantically tried to call him, until he called me (he was in San Francisco, and fine). I met another guy, and married him, and had two beautiful girls. The marriage ended. My father died. Then my dog died. For some reason, I’d kept it together after my father’s death, but when I lost Wendell, who’d been my constant companion for seventeen years, through jobs and breakups and marriage and childbirth, I was completely undone.

I didn’t want to be one of those pathetic women who stalk their exes on Facebook. I was, however, willing to be one of those pathetic women who attempt to contact exes using AOL email addresses that are probably no longer in service. I sent Bill an email with the memo line IS THIS STILL YOU? Thirty seconds later, he’d written back. It was still him. Five years after that, we got married.

It’s one of the rare cases where truth might be stranger than fiction, one of the few times where you can put real life on a page and have people who aren’t your relatives or your therapist want to read it. So I took the bones of our story — two people who love each other but just can’t quite get it right, two people who are in and out of each other’s lives over a span of twenty years — and turned it into WHO DO YOU LOVE.

I hope you like reading it as much as I loved writing it — and living it.

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Who Do You Love“PURE ROMANCE… READERS WILL FIND THEMSELVES LAUGHING, CRYING, AND HOPING.” —BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenial heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who  shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again— linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale. Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

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When Several Minds Are Better Than One

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Sometimes authors collaborate on projects, combining their best efforts–and their audiences–for a book that will captivate and enchant. Today we’re sharing several books that brought authors–and now readers–together!

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fall of poppiesFALL OF POPPIES by an impressive lineup of talented historical novelists

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Featuring: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Heather Webb.

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the year we turned fortyTHE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.

Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.

Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.

But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

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the forgotten roomTHE FORGOTTEN ROOM by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

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What Should I Read Next: A Podcast With Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

wsirn2

Photo courtesy of Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

Today Marybeth and I are visiting with Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) on her new podcast, “What Should I Read Next.” We’re talking about the audacity of telling other people what to read and the reality that sometimes reading gets very, very personal. If you’re visiting us after listening to the podcast, welcome! And if you’ve not yet been to Anne’s site, or listened to the podcast, you can do so here.

And, as always, you can find She Reads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Happy reading!

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Inspiration And How It Strikes

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, J.T. Ellison | @thrillerchick

We’re delighted to have J.T. Ellison on the blog today discussing the inspiration behind her new novel, and one of our spring book club selections, NO ONE KNOWS. If you’ve not yet picked up a copy of this one you’re really missing out. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. And she has great taste in glasses.

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JT_EllisonInspiration. It’s the most common question I get from readers, and from non-readers, too. Where do you get your ideas? How do you keep them straight?

The honest answer is I get ideas everywhere. From the most mundane, simple moments to earth-shattering news events. Quiet despair and public catastrophe. The ideas aren’t the problem. It’s finding the time to write them all. When I do have an idea, I capture it immediately, either in an online file or my idea notebook. Good ones stay with you. They’re visited often in your mind. Some are fed, watered, and put outside for the night; some are caressed longingly. Some, despite the excitement that created them, lay dormant, never to be developed. But some ideas eat at you. They won’t let you rest. They force you to build them into something. These are the ideas that become novels.

Five years ago, I dreamed that my husband went missing from an event. We were at separate parties at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee – bachelor and bachelorette. Oddly, he sent me a drink I hate: a vodka tonic, the first clue to my subconscious mind something wasn’t right. When I went to look for him, he was gone. Disappeared. And I knew in my heart I’d never see him again.

It was one of those incredibly vivid dreams that stays with you even when you wake. For the first few moments after I opened my eyes, a desperate sense of loss clung to me. My heart felt broken, my chest bruised by an incredible pain. How was this possible? How would I survive losing him? How would I go on?

When reality (and relief) finally crept back in, I knew I had to write the feelings down. While I was journaling this horrible dream, it hit me. What I like to call a “lightning strike idea.” Some authors would argue that all book ideas are lightning strikes, but not me. Lightning strikes only a few times, I believe, and it’s what you do with it that matters. I quickly pulled a story together, almost out of thin air. Young, innocent Aubrey Hamilton. Her handsome husband Josh, missing. Voila. The beginning of NO ONE KNOWS was born. My very first standalone novel, built on the back of a terrible dream.

It doesn’t sound like enough to go on, does it? And yet, five years later, the story is complete, has just hit bookshelves and is (hopefully) soon to be in your hands. Inspiration is like that. It can be quiet or loud, simple or complex. There’s magic in it, without a doubt. That’s our gift, I think. The ability to take the banal and create something new.

NO ONE KNOWS had a long, tumultuous journey, full of rewrites and changes in direction, new titles and new characters. It is hands down the most challenging book I have ever written, and I am so incredibly excited that it is finally, finally ready for you to read. I hope you enjoy it!

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No One Knows (1)In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

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Spring Book Club Selections

Spring Books 2

We have never been so relieved to see spring. Maybe it’s because we’re getting older and therefore winter seems to be getting longer? Or maybe this winter was as long and hard and cold as it felt. Regardless, we have fallen into spring and are reveling in the sunshine and blooms. And with a new season we have a new crop of book club selections to share with you. We’ve chosen three novels, all very different, all very good. There’s a dark domestic thriller that is sure to leave you guessing until the final page (NO ONE KNOWS by J.T. Ellison), a quirky family drama that will pluck your heartstrings until they quiver (ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING by Bridget Asher), and a good old fashioned love story that will leave you swooning (WHO DO YOU LOVE by Jennifer Weiner). We’ve got something or everyone so let us know which one rings your bell!

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No One Knows (1)NO ONE KNOWS by J.T. Ellison

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add NO ONE KNOWS to your “want to read” list here.

(A quick note on this book. J.T. is actually a close friend of mine (Ariel’s). She’s been very good to me and to my family in the years since we moved back to Nashville. I had the chance to read an early copy of NO ONE KNOWS and I loved it so much I wrote an endorsement for the cover. But gentle readers will want to know that this novel is grittier and sexier than most of the others we’ve chosen. It isn’t for the faint of heart but the payoff is so worth it.)

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All of Us and EverythingALL OF US AND EVERYTHING by Bridget Asher

For fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING to your “want to read” list here.

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Who Do You LoveWHO DO YOU LOVE by Jennifer Weiner

An unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale, Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add WHO DO YOU LOVE to your “want to read” list here.

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What We’re Into: March 2016 Edition

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

As always, we’re linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer to discuss what we’re into this month. We’d love to hear what you’re into as well! Let us know in the comments below.

MARYBETH WHALEN

MB Collage

This March has meant surprisingly warm temps, which has sent everything into full-blown green/spring mode. We’ve taken full advantage of this wonderfulness, venturing outside every chance we get. We’ve taken long walks up to our neighborhood lake, snapped pics of sunsets as we dined al fresco, and loved all the blooming flowers.

The kids got Enos for Christmas and have finally been able to put them to steady use. Whether it’s in our backyard alone or with friends at our community lake, they’ve gotten much mileage out of these portable hammocks in March. And I’ve enjoyed seeing them do something other than watch tv or stare at a device!

This month I got to go to lovely Montauk NY to stay at the Montauk Yacht Club for a meaningful, memorable weekend with some lovely women as I led one of my More To Your Story retreats. I don’t get the chance to do that very often but every time I do, I’m reminded how much I love to do it. This setting was particularly inspiring.

Easter happened in March this year, which meant it snuck up on me. We had one of our most low-key Easters ever– and this mama loved it! I had all my chicks in the nest at one time (increasingly rare) which meant picture time, much to their chagrin. But they played along and we got a shot everyone was pleased with (also increasingly rare).

Spring break also happened in March and with different kids on different schedules, that meant we had someone out of school and home for three weeks straight. Though I love having my kids around, that kind of schedule will mess with a mother’s productivity!

We didn’t go anywhere this year for spring break with the youngest three so we promised we’d take them to do fun stuff all week instead. We went on walks, to movies, to the trampoline jump place, to the zoo (with grandma) and– the artistic youngest’s pick– to paint pottery. All in all, trip or no trip, it was a nice, much-needed break from routine, lunch packing, homework, and carpool schedules. And a nice taste of summer to come!

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ARIEL LAWHON

Ariel Collage 5

Our new house. One day, hopefully in the near future, I will tell the story of why our family didn’t have a home of our own for the last three years. I’m not quite ready yet. I still have a bit more processing to do. But here is what I can say: my husband and I finally bought a new home in January. It’s our hope to live here for the rest of our lives. To raise our boys here. To hold our grandchildren here. Having a home is something that can be taken for granted but we hope to never do so again.

Pencils. This one is weird, I know. But I am really into pencils right now. I think this is a side effect of finally having an office. I’m collecting supplies like Office Depot is going out of business. It’s like a disease. We won’t even talk about the post-it-notes right now.

My office. Here’s what you need to understand: I’ve never had a place to write. Yes I only have two books out there in the world but I’ve been writing for a very long time. My writing space has always had to be portable. But for the first time I have a dedicated writing space. And my husband–good man that he is–is slowly remodeling it for me. As you can see from the picture above we’ve stripped some wallpaper and put up a chandelier and painted walls. We’ll deal with the icky carpet and much-needed bookshelves later. For now I’m happy to have a room of my own.

Listening to my son play the violin. If I could live my life over this is one of the only things I’d change. I’d learn to play the fiddle (same instrument, different type of music). There’s just something about it that moves me. So when my son decided to play the violin in school this year I almost wept with joy. Mostly it sounds like a dying cat right now but my gosh, there’s something there. I can hear it. He can hear it. And I hope he continues playing.

Keeping fresh flowers in the house. The lovely Anne Bogel taught me the simple joy of keeping fresh flowers in the house. We all need a bit of simple joy now and then. So I’m embracing this habit enthusiastically.

Pat Conroy. I’m reading through Conroy’s entire body of work this year. I’m working on an essay about the why behind this decision. For now I’ll just say that it’s the only way I can honor his legacy. I think he would approve.

 

What I'm Into

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Four New Historical Fiction Releases That Should Make Your “List”

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

It goes without saying that we love a good historical fiction. The chance to visit another time and place, to walk in someone’s shoes who lived long ago, is just too good to pass up. And we know you guys agree. So here’s a list of new releases you might want to put on your want-to-read list!

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The Beauty Queen of JerusalemTHE BEAUTY QUEEN OF JERUSALEM by Sarit Yishai-Levi

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela’s mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there’s more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family’s previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin’ ’70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

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The View From Prince StreetTHE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET by Mary Ellen Taylor

Stretching from the 18th century to present day, THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET traces the intertwined histories of three Alexandria families. Taylor, author of At the Corner of King Street (a SIBA Spring 2015 Okra Pick) and The Union Street Bakery, draws once again on historic Alexandria, Virginia and its legends. But this time, she trains her eye on the earliest days of the city, which were fraught with the specter of witches and family curses.

The binding of these three families is set in motion at the beginning of the novel, with the chilling arrival of Faith Shire at Patience Macdonald’s farmhouse in 1751. Soon after, a dangerous barter involving a child is arranged that will affect the clans for centuries to come.

Fast forward to present-day: after her sister’s death in a car accident, Rae McDonald’s teenage years were in turmoil. Pregnant at sixteen, she found a loving couple to adopt her child—and then buried her grief under a heart of stone. Her sister’s best friend Lisa Smyth survived the crash, but never told the truth about it. As long-buried artifacts that link their family histories are unearthed, both women are forced to confront the secrets of the past.  .  . and take the first steps to a new future.

Throughout, one question arises: what boundaries will a mother cross to protect her child? As the generations progress, each family will unearth the strange and surprising ties that bind them together—and the dark choices that led there.

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A Taste for NightshadeA TASTE FOR NIGHTSHADE by Martine Bailey

The story begins in Manchester in 1809. When budding young criminal Mary Jebb swindles Michael Croxton’s brother with a blank pound note, he chases her into the night and sets in motion a train of sinister events. Condemned to seven years of transportation to Australia, Mary sends him a ‘Penny Heart’-a token of her vow of revenge.

Two years later, Michael marries naïve young Grace Moore. Although initially overjoyed at the union, Grace quickly realizes that her husband is more interested in her fortune than her company. Lonely and desperate for companionship, she turns to her new cook to help mend her ailing marriage. But Mary Jebb, shipwrecked, tortured, and recently hired, has different plans for the unsuspecting owners of Delafosse Hall.

A Taste for Nightshade is a thrilling historical novel that combines recipes, mystery and a dark struggle between two desperate women, sure to appeal to fans of Sarah Waters and Carolly Erickson.

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Platinum DollPLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film 

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

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