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The Necklace by Claire McMillan (2017)

The NecklaceWhen Nell's Aunt Loulou passes away, Nell heads to the Quincy estate in Cleveland from her home in Oregon. Nell's mother (now deceased) and father moved out west years ago, because they found being around the wealthy Quincy family too stifling. At the reading of the will, Nell is named executor of the estate and is bequeathed a necklace that is unaccounted for. Then, in cleaning out Loulou's bedroom, Nell finds a necklace containing a giant sapphire with nine other jewels. Feeling that this is the necklace mentioned in the will, Nell goes about finding out its history, but other family members attempt to control what happens to it.

Told in alternating chapters, the reader follows the contemporary story of Nell and her relatives, along with the 1920s tale of brothers Ethan and Ambrose Quincy and the woman they both loved, May. The Necklace by Claire McMillan is an engaging story filled with details of old wealth and of times gone by. Give to readers who enjoy Lauren Willig's standalone novels.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (2017)

manhattanbeachJennifer Egan’s epic novel Manhattan Beach is set in the Brooklyn Naval Yards during World War II. This coming-of-age novel features Anna Kerrigan as a fiercely independent young woman who longs to serve the war effort as a diver, an occupation reserved solely for men in 1940s America. Anna’s underwater training takes her deep into the murky waters of New York Harbor, while her quest to uncover the mystery that has torn her family apart leads her into the dark underworld of organized crime.

Manhattan Beach was long-listed for the National Book Award in 2017. I recommend giving this one a listen — the audiobook narration by Vincent Piazza of Boardwalk Empire adds the perfect touch of noir to this historic novel.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (2018)

womaninthewindowIf you enjoy classic Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, you will surely love this debut novel by A. J. Finn. Dr. Anna Fox, a former child psychologist, suffers from agoraphobia. She never leaves her house, nor does she ever open any windows. Nevertheless, she is quite a busy woman. She spends her time watching classic movies, drinking much merlot, and self-medicating with pills.

One of her favorite pastimes is spying on her neighbors. One day, as she is spying, Anna witnesses something horrible. The only problem? She cannot find a soul who believes her. The Woman in the Window is filled with twists and turns, and will keep readers entertained from beginning to end.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (2012)

shattermeImagine what it would do to a person to never feel the touch of another human being. Not because of loneliness, but out of fear. Something in Juliette’s body causes anyone who makes contact with her skin to undergo such excruciating pain that if contact has been made long enough, they will die.

In and out of doctors’ offices, psychiatric care, and more, her parents just want to rid themselves of their burden after the unspeakable happens. Juliette’s in an asylum—this is her life now. Until a government official takes interest in her and takes her in. Perhaps he can make use of this…gift. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is filled with anticipation, heartache, and maybe, just maybe, a chance for Juliette to find love. This is her story.

Digging In by Loretta Nyhan (2018)

digginginTwo years after her husband died in an accident, Paige, living with her teenage son, Trey, is going through the motions of life. Adding to the stress, changes are afoot at the advertising agency where she works. Big Frank, the founder of the agency, has passed away and his son, Lukas has taken over. Lukas is enamored of the principles outlined in a trendy new business bestseller and has completely redesigned the workplace. He has also made it apparent that two out of the office's six employees will be let go soon.

One thing that has been extremely satisfying for Paige in this time of upheaval is digging in her backyard, much to the dismay of her noisy and not-so-nice neighbor, Mr. Eckhardt. Soon, Paige decides that she will turn the backyard into a garden. Will Paige be able to pull her professional and personal lives back together--and get a garden to grow? Digging In is a humorous tale of a woman overcoming a tragedy and finding a new self. Loretta Nyhan’s book is a great choice for those who love novels about relationships.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (2018)

needtoknowVivian works for the CIA as a counterintelligence analyst focusing on Russia, trying to uncover their spies in the United States. One day, while doing her work, she finds information that hits close to home and leads her to question the last ten years of her life. Not really knowing who she can trust or turn to puts her on edge, especially when her children's lives are threatened. Karen Cleveland’s Need to Know is a fast-paced tale for readers who enjoyed Chris Pavone's The Expats and the television show The Americans. It's also the perfect book for your summer beach bag.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (2017)

scribeofsienaIn the present day, neurosurgeon Beatrice travels to Siena after her brother, a medieval historian, dies. Somehow, Beatrice travels in time to medieval Siena during the plague (around 1350). As you read The Scribe of Siena, you’ll feel that you were there too—the writing and descriptions are so vivid. Check out Melodie Winawer’s captivating debut novel today. For fans of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (2018)

womaninthewindowA suspense-filled, attention-grabbing story that kept me riveted from beginning to end. I couldn’t wait to get back to The Woman in the Window when I wasn’t listening to it on CD. Check out A. J. Finn’s debut novel today if you enjoy psychological suspense or Hitchcock films. For similar novels, check out our list.

The Other Side of Everything by Lauren Doyle Owens (2018)

When a few female senior citizens are murdered in their homes, the neighborhood that the victims resided in goes on high alert. Octogenarian Bernard and his friends decide to take action and make sure that the older single women are not alone by having a single man in the group move in with them until the perpetrator is caught. Amy, an artist in her 30s, begins to create paintings about the crimes. Another neighbor, teenager Maddie is home alone a lot with her younger brother since her mother abandoned the family. Maddie also has doubts that the man the police are targeting is guilty since she knows him as a customer at the restaurant where she works as a waitress.

In The Other Side of Everything, Lauren Doyle Owens explores the aftereffects of a series of crimes through these three characters and their intersecting lives. As suggested by the publisher on the flyleaf of the book, Owens’ debut is for readers who like Megan Abbott and Laura Lippman's standalone novels. Also, if you enjoy this book, try the wonderful, yet not well known The Long and Faraway Gone by Louis Berney.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (2016)

Dystopian writing at its best—it is the distant future, and humanity has overcome poverty, hunger, and even death, while a seemingly benevolent artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead watches over everything...almost everything. The one thing left to humanity is to control the overpopulation of the planet, and that is left to the scythes: men and women chosen to kill the populace at random based on a quota system. Some scythes are weighed down by the burden of responsibility while others take great satisfaction in their duties. When two teen scythes are pitted against one another to compete for one opening, it sends shockwaves through the entire scythedom.

After reading Neal Schusterman’s Scythe, check out the sequel Thunderhead.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (2017)

wishtreeRed, a wishtree, has been around her community for a long time. She's seen people come together and now she is seeing her community torn apart by a single word carved into her trunk: LEAVE. Red—and her residents, which include owls, skunks, possums, raccoons, and a crow—work to bring their community back together.

Wishtree was recommended to me by one of the K&T librarians, Monica, and it did NOT disappoint!

Katherine Applegate's writing style is accessible and natural. Her words flow and easily tell the story. I was utterly captivated by the history of the wishtree and all that Red has seen in her life. And I love the idea of bringing a community together, so needless to say, I was rooting for everyone!

I listened to this book on audio and it would make a great car trip read for families. I think that fans of Erin Hunter's Warriors series or of Applegate's Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan would absolutely enjoy this title as well.

 

Firstlife by Gena Showalter (2016)

firstlifeImagine if our lives right now weren’t our only lives, that if after we die, there’s another life. But there’s one caveat, we have to choose a side: Myriad or Troika. One, a world of eternal darkness but luxury beyond your deepest desires. The other, a world of eternal light and joy. If you die before choosing, you’re stuck in the Land of Many Ways: a place where you're rumored to be terrorized for all eternity before eventually experiencing your second and final death. Troika and Myriad are rivals trapped in a bitter, never-ending war, looking to recruit the most souls.

Both afterlives are in a race to recruit Tenley Lockwood, but how does she know which is the right choice? This is the afterlife, after all. Once you decide, there’s no going back. Check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.

Killer Choice by Tom Hunt (2018)

killerchoiceWhat would you do to protect the one you love? When Gary Foster finds out his pregnant wife Beth is diagnosed with a brain tumor and that a clinical trial in Germany might help her, he feels powerless, because there is no way they can afford the $200,000 cost. When a local criminal anonymously approaches Gary, offering to give him the money if Gary kills someone for him, Gary agrees--but complications arise both with the deal and in his personal life.

In Killer Choice, Tom Hunt has written a fast-paced read that's hard to put down, as long as you can buy into the premise. Great for readers of Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, and David Rosenfelt's standalone novels.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015)

simon-vs-agenda-homo-sapiensSimon Spier has a crush on a guy he's never met, his friend group is undergoing major changes, and he's being blackmailed. Junior year is way more complicated than he thought it would be.

I absolutely adore this book. I listened to the audiobook version of this early last year and it remains one of my favorite reads of 2017.

Becky Albertalli balances humor, teen angst, and romance to create a fabulous first novel.

And if you like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, there's another book in the Simonverse: The Upside of Unrequited. (A third book, Leah on the Offbeat, comes out later this year.)

And—Simon is being made into a movie! It was renamed Love, Simon and hit theaters last week. Now's your chance to read the book before you see the movie.

 

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena (2017)

strangerinthehouseTom Krupp thought he had the perfect marriage. He is very much in love with his wife Karen. But does he really know her? Why did she speed away from a murder scene one night and drive so recklessly that she crashes her car into a utility pole? Why does she continue to say she remembers nothing about that night?

Throw in the obsessed neighbor from across the street and you have a very entertaining thriller by Shari Lapena. Check out A Stranger in the House today.