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What should we read?

Each month our book club rotates between general fiction, mystery, fantasy, and romance. Take a look at our upcoming candidates and vote on your favorites!

October

Genre: Romance

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Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson

Essie Winterscale lives in a huge and ever-changing house in the village of Good Winter, in deepest, darkest Essex. She lives with various witches of various ages, one of whom is still a bit salty about being hanged in the 1700s, one who keeps accidentally casting fertility spells, and one who knits things that create the future.

All Essie ever wanted was to have a normal life but in the end she found herself drawn back to Beldam House because she just can’t stop her witchiness (although the ability to instantly chill wine is pretty awesome, even she has to admit).

Into this coven of chaos stumbles gorgeous, clueless Josh, their new landlord – and he’s just discovered his tenants haven’t paid rent since the 1700s! As Josh is drawn further into the lives of the inhabitants of Beldam House, Essie is determined to keep him at broomstick’s length. That is, until a family secret, lying hidden for centuries, puts Josh firmly under her spell…

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The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston

So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: stay busy, 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. 
Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed.

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Will They or Won't They by Ava Wilder

Lilah Hunter and Shane McCarthy are madly in love— at least, their characters are. As the stars of the hit paranormal TV show Intangible, they spent years pining for each other on-screen… until Lilah ditched the show at the end of season five in hopes of becoming a film star. With no such luck, she’s back to film the much-hyped ninth and final season, in which their characters will get together at last.

But coming back means facing one of the biggest reasons she left: Shane. Ever since their secret behind-the-scenes fling imploded at the end of the first season, the two of them have despised each other.

Now back on set together for the first time in years, with the world’s eyes on them and their post-show careers on the line, they’ll have to grit their teeth and play nice. But under pressure to give Intangible’s fans the happy ending they’ve been waiting for, Lilah and Shane are forced to get closer than ever. And if they’re not careful, they just might get blindsided by one final twist: a real-life happy ending of their own.

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A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee

An emotionally powerful romance novel about two people finding love after struggling with addiction--ultimately discovering what it means to be completely and unapologetically themselves.

Elisheva Cohen has just returned to Brooklyn after almost a decade. The wounds of abandoning the Orthodox community that raised her, then shunned her because of her substance abuse, are still painful. But when she gets an amazing opportunity to study photography with art legend Wyatt Cole, Ely is willing to take the leap.

On her first night back in town, Ely goes out to the infamous queer club Revel for a celebratory night of dancing. Ely is swept off her feet and into bed by a gorgeous man who looks like James Dean, but with a thick Carolina accent. The next morning, Ely wakes up alone and rushes off to attend her first photography class, reminiscing on the best one-night stand of her life. She doesn't even know his name. That is, until Wyatt Cole shows up for class--and Ely realizes that the man she just spent an intimate and steamy night with is her teacher.

Everyone in the art world is obsessed with Wyatt Cole. He's immensely talented and his notoriously reclusive personal life makes him all the more compelling. But there's a reason why his past is hard for him to publicize. After coming out as transgender, Wyatt was dishonorably discharged from the military and disowned by his family. From then on he committed to sobriety and channeled his pain into his flourishing art career. While Ely and Wyatt's relationship started out on a physical level, their similar struggles spark a much deeper connection. The chemistry is undeniable, but their new relationship as teacher and student means desperately wanting what they can't have.

November

Genre: General Fiction

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Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

A lush and lyrical debut novel about a Costa Rican family wrestling with a deadly secret, from rising literary star John Manuel Arias

Costa Rica, 1968. When a lethal fire erupts at the American Fruit Company’s most lucrative banana plantation burning all evidence of a massive cover-up, the future of Teresa Cepeda Valverde’s family is changed forever.

Now, twenty-seven years later, Teresa and her daughter Lyra are still picking up the pieces. Lyra wants nothing to do with Teresa, but is desperate to find out what happened to her family that fateful night. Teresa, haunted by a missing husband and the bitter ghost of her mother, Amarga, is unable to reconcile the past. What unfolds is a story of a mother and daughter trying to forgive what they do not yet understand, and the mystery at the heart of one family’s rupture, steeped in machismo, jealousy, labor uprisings, and the havoc wreaked by banana plantations in Central America.

Brimming with ancestral spirits, omens, and the anthropomorphic forces of nature, John Manuel Arias weaves a brilliant tapestry of love, loss, secrets, and redemption in Where There was Fire.

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The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride 

In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe's theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.

As these characters' stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town's white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community--heaven and earth--that sustain us.

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Tom Lake by Anne Patchett

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

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Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley

Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do.

Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you--and even more about yourself.

December

Genre: Mystery

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Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

"When a father goes missing, his family's desperate search leads them to question everything they know about him and one another--both a riveting page-turner and a deeply moving portrait of a family in crisis from the award-winning author of Miracle Creek."

Mia, the irreverent, hyperanalytical twenty-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything--which is why she isn't initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don't return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia's brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.

What follows is both a ticking-clock investigation into the whereabouts of a father and an emotionally rich portrait of a family whose most personal secrets just may be at the heart of his disappearance. Full of shocking twists and fascinating questions of love, language, race, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry. With all the powerful storytelling she brought to her award-winning debut Miracle Creek, Angie Kim turns the missing person story into something wholly original, creating an indelible tale of a family who must go to remarkable lengths to truly understand one another.

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Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney

Twenty years after a baby is stolen from a stroller, a woman is murdered in a care home. The two crimes are somehow linked, and a good bad girl may be the key to discovering the truth.

Edith may have been tricked into a nursing home, but at eighty-years-young, she’s planning her escape. Patience works there, cleaning messes and bonding with Edith, a kindred spirit. But Patience is lying to Edith about almost everything. Edith’s own daughter, Clio, won’t speak to her. And someone new is about to knock on Clio’s door…and their intentions aren’t good.

With every reason to distrust each other, the women must solve a mystery with three suspects, two murders, and one victim. If they do, they might just find out what happened to the baby who disappeared, the mother who lost her, and the connections that bind them.

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The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion is over the moon to have been selected to be one of the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s glamorous precision-dancing troupe. It’s an honor, but with four shows a day as well as grueling rehearsals, not to mention exacting standards of perfection to live up to, Marion quickly realizes that the life of a Rockette has both extraordinary highs and devastating lows.

Then one night a bomb explodes in the theater. It’s only the latest in a string of explosions around the city orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the "Big Apple Bomber." With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a yearslong manhunt, the police, at Marion’s urging, turn in desperation to a radical new technique: psychological profiling.

As Marion finds herself pulled deeper into the investigation, she realizes that as much as she’s been training herself to blend in—performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes—if she hopes to catch the bomber, she’ll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. But she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.

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None of This is True by Lisa Jewell

Celebrating her forty-fifth birthday at her local pub, popular podcaster Alix Summers crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie, it turns out, is also celebrating her forty-fifth birthday. They are, in fact, birthday twins.

A few days later, Alix and Josie bump into each other again, this time outside Alix’s children’s school. Josie has been listening to Alix’s podcasts and thinks she might be an interesting subject for her series. She is, she tells Alix, on the cusp of great changes in her life.

Josie’s life appears to be strange and complicated
, and although Alix finds her unsettling, she can’t quite resist the temptation to keep making the podcast. Slowly she starts to realise that Josie has been hiding some very dark secrets, and before she knows it, Josie has inveigled her way into Alix’s life—and into her home.

But, as quickly as she arrived, Josie disappears. Only then does Alix discover that Josie has left a terrible and terrifying legacy in her wake, and that Alix has become the subject of her own true crime podcast, with her life and her family’s lives under mortal threat.

Who is Josie Fair? And what has she done?

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