Beach read season has arrived, giving us the perfect excuse to dive into juicy romances and chilling mysteries. Whether you’re spending time on the coast or laying out at your favorite pool in town, the latest books will keep you enthralled while soaking up the sun. Our picks include a new legal thriller by a Southern literary legend, a hilarious tale about the adventure of new motherhood, and a young adult bestseller penned by a Charlotte native. Stop by Park Road Books to find these hot titles, or shop on Amazon at the links below.
Page Turning Fiction
The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck. (William Morrow)
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.
Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.
Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout. (Random House)
Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.
Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.
The Stars are Fire, by Anita Shreve. (Knopf)
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife (an Oprah’s Book Club selection): an exquisitely suspenseful new novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event and its devastating aftermath–based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history
In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms–joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain–and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens–and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.
Confessions of a Domestic Failure, Bunmi Ladita (MIRA)
From the creator of The Honest Toddler comes a fiction debut sure to be a must-read for moms everywhere.
There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who’s trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.
When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she’s always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop?
With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley’s story reminds moms that there’s no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.
Against All Odds, by Danielle Steel. (Delacorte Press)
Taking chances is part of life, but when you bet your future against the odds, it’s a high-risk game. Kate Madison’s stylish resale shop has been a big SoHo success, supporting her and her four kids since her husband’s untimely death. Now they are grown and ready to forge lives of their own. And they all choose to play against the odds, to their mother’s dismay.
Isabelle, a dedicated attorney, is in line to make partner at her Wall Street firm when she falls for a client she represents in a criminal case. She tells herself she can make a life with him—but can she? Julie, a young designer, meets a man who seems too good to be true and falls under his spell. She marries him quickly, gives up her job, and moves to Los Angeles to be at his side—but is all what it seems? Justin is a struggling writer who pushes for children with his partner before they’re financially or emotionally ready. Will the strain on the relationship take too high a toll? And Willie, the youngest, a tech expert, makes a choice that shocks them all, with a woman twelve years older.
Kate—loving, supportive, and outspoken—can’t keep her children from playing against the odds. Can the odds be beaten? Not often—as her children have to learn for themselves. For Kate, the hardest lesson will be that she can’t protect the children she loves from the choices they make—but can only love them as they make them.
Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins. (Riverhead Books)
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
All By Myself, Alone. Mary Higgins Clark. (Simon & Schuster)
It wouldn’t be summer without getting lost in a Mary Higgins Clark mystery. A glamorous cruise on a luxurious ocean liner turns deadly in the latest mystery from “Queen of Suspense” and #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark.
Fleeing a disastrous and humiliating arrest of her husband-to-be on the eve of their wedding, Celia Kilbride, a gems and jewelry expert, hopes to escape from public attention by lecturing on a brand-new cruise ship—the Queen Charlotte.
On board she meets eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, “Lady Em,” as she is known throughout the world. Immensely wealthy, Lady Em is the owner of a priceless emerald necklace that she intends to leave to the Smithsonian after the cruise.
Three days out to sea Lady Em is found dead—and the necklace is missing. Is it the work of her apparently devoted assistant, Brenda Martin, or her lawyer-executor, Roger Pearson, and his wife, Yvonne, both of whom she had invited to join them on the cruise? Or is it Professor Henry Longworth, an acclaimed Shakespeare scholar who is lecturing on board? Or Alan Davidson, a guest on the ship who is planning to spread his wife’s ashes at sea? The list of suspects is large and growing.
Celia, with the help of her new friends Willy and Alvirah Meehan, who are celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, sets out to find the killer, not realizing that she has put herself in mortal danger before the ship reaches its final destination.
Never, in all her long career as a #1 bestselling suspense novelist, has Mary Higgins Clark been in better form.
The Day I Died, Lori Rader-Day. (William Morrow Paperbacks)
I received a free preview copy of this book by the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award winner, and am recommending Lori Rader-Day’s new mystery because it hooked me in the first chapter.
From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.
Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.
Camino Island, by John Grishman. (Doubleday) Will be released June 6.
Park Road Books is one of the select stops on Grishman’s first book store tour in 25 years, and the event is of course sold out.
A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.
Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.
Come Sundown, by Nora Roberts. (St. Martin’s Press)
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose―and her mind has been shattered…
When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him―and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past―and the threat that follows in her wake―will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.
Making It Right (A Most Likely To Novel) Catherine Bybee (Montlake Romance)
Some kids inherit a family business; Jo Ward inherited a badge. Once voted Most Likely to End Up in Jail, the town wild child has become sheriff—hell-bent on uncovering the truth about her father’s mysterious death. Life is quiet in rustic River Bend, but Jo longs for something beyond her small hometown and the painful memories it holds. All that keeps her sane is the support of her best friends, Melanie and Zoe.
But when Jo signs up for an expert law enforcement training seminar, she meets Gill Clausen, whose haunting eyes and dangerously sexy vibe just may challenge her single-minded focus. Commitment-phobic Jo can’t deny her attraction to the arrogant federal agent, and when odd things start happening around River Bend and danger surrounds her, she realizes she’ll need his help to discover who’s out to remove her from River Bend…permanently.
As Jo and Gill work together, it’s clear they make a great team. But can Jo loosen her grip on the past enough to let love in and reach for the future?
Bombshell (Hollywood A-List) (Montlake Romance)
Hollywood bad boy Brad Sinclair always gets his way, whether it’s the role he wants or the bikini-clad model he has to have. But when a bombshell gets dropped in his lap in the form of a dimpled five-year-old from a forgotten relationship, he knows his life is about to change forever.
Cara DuMont isn’t exactly thrilled when she gets assigned to be the nanny for the latest box-office king. She has one rule: no celebrity fathers, especially single ones with devilish good looks and rock-hard abs.
But as soon as Cara meets Brad and his adorable little girl, she knows she’s in for a world of trouble. Because there’s something about the way Brad looks at her that makes her believe that some rules are meant to be broken…
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, by William H. McRaven. (Grand Central Publishing)
On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better.
Admiral McRaven’s original speech went viral with over 10 million views. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage. Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life’s darkest moments.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, by Anne Lamott. (Riverhead Books)
“Mercy is radical kindness,” Anne Lamott writes in her enthralling and heartening book, Hallelujah Anyway. It’s the permission you give others—and yourself—to forgive a debt, to absolve the unabsolvable, to let go of the judgment and pain that make life so difficult.
In Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by “facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.” It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere—”within us and outside us, all around us”—and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as “kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.”
Full of Lamott’s trademark honesty, humor and forthrightness, Hallelujah Anyway is profound and caring, funny and wise—a hopeful book of hands-on spirituality.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg. (Knopf)
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.
You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales, by Sheila Nevins (Flatiron Books)
Sheila Nevins is the best friend you never knew you had. She is your discreet confidante you can tell any secret to, your sage mentor at work who helps you navigate the often uneven playing field, your wise sister who has “been there, done that,” your hysterical girlfriend whose stories about men will make laugh until you cry. Sheila Nevins is the one person who always tells it like it is.
In You Don’t Look Your Age, the famed documentary producer (as President of HBO Documentary Films for over 30 years, Nevins has rightfully been credited with creating the documentary rebirth) finally steps out from behind the camera and takes her place front and center.
In these pages you will read about the real life challenges of being a woman in a man’s world, what it means to be a working mother, what it’s like to be an older woman in a youth-obsessed culture, the sometimes changing, often sweet truth about marriages, what being a feminist really means, and that you are in good company if your adult children don’t return your phone calls.
So come, sit down, make yourself comfortable, (and for some of you, don’t forget the damn reading glasses). You’re in for a treat.
Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family (Gallery Books)
An endearing coming-of-age memoir by a young woman who spent thirteen years as Jackie Kennedy’s personal assistant and occasional nanny—and the lessons about life and love she learned from the glamorous first lady.
In 1964, Kathy McKeon was just nineteen years old and newly arrived from Ireland when she was hired as the personal assistant to former first lady Jackie Kennedy. The next thirteen years of her life were spent in Jackie’s service, during which Kathy not only played a crucial role in raising young Caroline and John Jr., but also had a front-row seat to some of the twentieth century’s most significant events.
Because Kathy was always at Jackie’s side, Rose Kennedy deemed her “Jackie’s girl.” And although Kathy called Jackie “Madam,” she considered her employer more like a big sister who, in many ways, mentored her on how to be a lady. Kathy was there during Jackie and Aristotle Onassis’s courtship and marriage and Robert Kennedy’s assassination, dutifully supporting Jackie and the children during these tumultuous times in history.
A rare and engrossing look at the private life of one of the most famous women of the twentieth century, Jackie’s Girl is also a moving personal story of a young woman finding her identity and footing in a new country, along with the help of the most elegant woman in America.
For Your Inner Teenager
Just Fly Away, by Andrew McCarthy. (Algonquin Young Readers)
How can we not read the YA debut of one of our favorite 80’s teen stars? When fifteen-year-old Lucy Willows discovers that her father has a child from a brief affair, an eight-year-old boy who lives in her own suburban New Jersey town, she begins to question everything she thinks she knows about her home and her life. How could Lucy’s father have betrayed the entire family? How could her mother forgive him? And why isn’t her sister rocked by the news the way Lucy is?
As her father’s secret becomes her own, Lucy grows more and more isolated from her friends, her family, and even her boyfriend, Simon, the one person she thought understood her. When Lucy escapes to Maine, the home of her mysteriously estranged grandfather, she finally begins to get to the bottom of her family’s secrets and lies.
Just Fly Away is a debut novel about family secrets, first love, the limits of forgiveness, and finding one’s way in the world from an award-winning writer, actor, and director.
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses), by Sarah J. Maas. (Bloomsbury USA Childrens)
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
Nemesis, Brendan Reichs. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers).
Penned by the Charlotte native and son of Bones author Kathy Reichs, Brendan is carrying on the bestselling family tradition.
It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.
Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.
For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.