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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!

July

Genre: General Fiction

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The Lady Waiting by Magdalena Zyzak

 

The White Lotus meets The Talented Mr. Ripley in this high-spirited novel of a stolen Vermeer, a Polish transplant in LA, and the charismatic couple who seduce her into a misguided international heist.

One bright Los Angeles day, a young Polish émigré named Viva is driving along the freeway when she’s flagged down by a dazzling, disheveled woman in green chiffon. The woman is Bobby Sleeper, a fellow Eastern European and an erstwhile art gallerist with a mysterious background and even more mysterious filmmaker husband. Within days the couple hire Viva as their assistant, then enlist her as an accomplice in an improbable scheme involving a long-lost Vermeer masterwork, a multi-million-dollar reward, and several shadowy ex-husbands.

As Bobby and her husband weave her ever more tightly into their web, Viva is swept up in an escapade that’s one part art heist, one part love triangle, and one part education of a felon. Entranced by their lifestyle, alarmed by their ramshackle scam, Viva realizes she’s out of her depth—and that only luck, cunning, and her own hustler’s instinct can save her from disaster. Careening from the canyons of LA to the canals of Venice, The Lady Waiting is a page-turning caper, a cavalcade of twenty-first-century sins—rapacious capitalism, shameless fraud, and atrocious behavior—and a showcase for three of the biggest and most unforgettable characters in recent fiction.

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All Fours by Miranda July

The New York Times–bestselling author of The First Bad Man returns with an irreverently sexy, tender, hilarious, and surprising novel about a woman upending her life


An unnamed semifamous artist announces her plan to drive cross-country, from LA to New York. Twenty minutes after leaving her husband and child at home, she stops at a gas station where a young man cleans her windshield. Soon the pair has succumbed to a magnetic, earth-shattering attraction, and the narrator has checked into a nearby motel, where she renovates her room in the style of an opulent Parisian hotel.

 

The room becomes a love nest, of a kind, but a terrible deadline looms. The narrator’s putative road trip must end. What will happen when she goes home to face her life?  With July’s wry voice, perfect comic timing, unabashed curiosity about human intimacy, and palpable delight in pushing boundaries, All Fours tells the story of one woman’s quest for a new kind of freedom. Part absurd entertainment, part tender reinvention of the sexual, romantic, and domestic life of a forty-five-year-old female artist, All Fours transcends expectation while excavating our beliefs about life lived as a woman. Once again, July hijacks the familiar and turns it into something new and thrillingly, profoundly alive.

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Rough Trade by Katrina Carrasco

Washington Territory, 1888. With contacts on the docks and in the railroad, and with a buyers’ market funneling product their way, Alma Rosales and her opium-smuggling crew are making a fortune. They spend their days moving product and their nights at the Monte Carlo, the center of Tacoma’s queer scene, where skirts and trousers don’t signify and everyone’s free to suit themselves.

Then two local men end up dead, with all signs pointing to the opium trade, and a botched effort to disappear the bodies draws lawmen to town. Alma scrambles to keep them away from her operation but is distracted by the surprise appearance of Bess Spencer—an ex-Pinkerton's agent and Alma’s first love—after years of silence. A handsome young stranger comes to town, too, and falls into an affair with one of Alma's crewmen. When he starts asking questions about opium, Alma begins to suspect she’s welcomed a spy into her inner circle, and is forced to consider how far she’ll go to protect her trade.

Katrina Carrasco plunges readers into the vivid, rough-and-tumble world of the late-1800s Pacific Northwest in this genre- and gender-blurring novel. Rough Trade follows Carrasco’s critically acclaimed debut The Best Bad Things and reimagines queer communities, the turbulent early days of modern media and medicine, and the pleasures—and price—of satisfying desire.

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James by Percival Everett

Washington Territory, 1888. With contacts on the docks and in the railroad, and with a buyers’ market funneling product their way, Alma Rosales and her opium-smuggling crew are making a fortune. They spend their days moving product and their nights at the Monte Carlo, the center of Tacoma’s queer scene, where skirts and trousers don’t signify and everyone’s free to suit themselves.

Then two local men end up dead, with all signs pointing to the opium trade, and a botched effort to disappear the bodies draws lawmen to town. Alma scrambles to keep them away from her operation but is distracted by the surprise appearance of Bess Spencer—an ex-Pinkerton's agent and Alma’s first love—after years of silence. A handsome young stranger comes to town, too, and falls into an affair with one of Alma's crewmen. When he starts asking questions about opium, Alma begins to suspect she’s welcomed a spy into her inner circle, and is forced to consider how far she’ll go to protect her trade.

Katrina Carrasco plunges readers into the vivid, rough-and-tumble world of the late-1800s Pacific Northwest in this genre- and gender-blurring novel. Rough Trade follows Carrasco’s critically acclaimed debut The Best Bad Things and reimagines queer communities, the turbulent early days of modern media and medicine, and the pleasures—and price—of satisfying desire.

August

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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The Lost Boy of Santa Chionia by Juliet Grames

One unidentified skeleton. Three missing men. A village full of secrets. The best-selling author of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna brings us a sparkling—by turns funny and moving—novel about a young American woman turned amateur detective in a small village in Southern Italy.

Calabria, 1960. Francesca Loftfield, a twenty-seven-year-old, starry-eyed American, arrives in the isolated mountain village of Santa Chionia tasked with opening a nursery school. There is no road, no doctor, no running water or electricity. And thanks to a recent flood that swept away the post office, there’s no mail, either.

Most troubling, though, is the human skeleton that surfaced after the flood waters receded. Who is it? And why don’t the police come and investigate? When the local priest’s housekeeper begs Francesca to help determine if the remains are those of her long-missing son, Francesca begins to ask a lot of inconvenient questions. As an outsider, she might be the only person who can uncover the truth. Or she might be getting in over her head. As she attempts to juggle a nosy landlady, a suspiciously dashing shepherd, and a network of local families bound together by a code of silence, Francesca finds herself forced to choose between the charitable mission that brought her to Santa Chionia, and her future happiness, between truth and survival.

Set in the wild heart of Calabria, a land of sheer cliff faces, ancient tradition, dazzling sunlight—and one of the world’s most ruthless criminal syndicates—The Lost Boy of Santa Chionia is a suspenseful puzzle mystery, a captivating romance, and an affecting portrait of a young woman in search of a meaningful life.

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Butter by Asako Yuzuki, Polly Barton (Translator)

The cult Japanese bestseller about a female gourmet cook and serial killer and the journalist intent on cracking her case, inspired by a true story.

There are two things that I can simply not tolerate: feminists and margarine.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Center convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. The case has captured the nation’s imagination but Kajii refuses to speak with the press, entertaining no visitors. That is, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew and Kajii can’t resist writing back.

Rika, the only woman in her news office, works late each night, rarely cooking more than ramen. As the visits unfold between her and the steely Kajii, they are closer to a masterclass in food than journalistic research. Rika hopes this gastronomic exchange will help her soften Kajii but it seems that she might be the one changing. With each meal she eats, something is awakening in her body, might she and Kaji have more in common than she once thought?

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, "The Konkatsu Killer," Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.

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How to Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin

For fans of Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club, an enormously fun mystery about a woman who spends her entire life trying to prevent her foretold murder only to be proven right sixty years later, when she is found dead in her sprawling country estate... Now it's up to her great-niece to catch the killer. 

It’s 1965 and teenage Frances Adams is at an English country fair with her two best friends. But Frances’s night takes a hairpin turn when a fortune-teller makes a bone-chilling prediction: One day, Frances will be murdered. Frances spends a lifetime trying to solve a crime that hasn’t happened yet, compiling dirt on every person who crosses her path in an effort to prevent her own demise. For decades, no one takes Frances seriously, until nearly sixty years later, when Frances is found murdered, like she always said she would be.
 
In the present day, Annie Adams has been summoned to a meeting at the sprawling country estate of her wealthy and reclusive great-aunt Frances. But by the time Annie arrives in the quaint English village of Castle Knoll, Frances is already dead. Annie is determined to catch the killer, but thanks to Frances’s lifelong habit of digging up secrets and lies, it seems every endearing and eccentric villager might just have a motive for her murder. Can Annie safely unravel the dark mystery at the heart of Castle Knoll, or will dredging up the past throw her into the path of a killer?
 
As Annie gets closer to the truth, and closer to the danger, she starts to fear she might inherit her aunt’s fate instead of her fortune.

September

Genre: Fantasy

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The Book of Love by Kelly Link

The Book of Love showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love—from friendship to romance to abiding family ties—with her trademark compassion, wit, and literary derring-do. Readers will find joy (and a little terror) and an affirmation that love goes on, even when we cannot.

Late one night, Laura, Daniel, and Mo find themselves beneath the fluorescent lights of a high school classroom, almost a year after disappearing from their hometown, the small seaside community of Lovesend, Massachusetts, having long been presumed dead. Which, in fact, they are.

With them in the room is their previously unremarkable high school music teacher, who seems to know something about their disappearance—and what has brought them back again. Desperate to reclaim their lives, the three agree to the terms of the bargain their music teacher proposes. They will be given a series of magical tasks; while they undertake them, they may return to their families and friends, but they can tell no one where they’ve been. In the end, there will be winners and there will be losers.

But their resurrection has attracted the notice of other supernatural figures, all with their own agendas. As Laura, Daniel, and Mo grapple with the pieces of the lives they left behind, and Laura’s sister, Susannah, attempts to reconcile what she remembers with what she fears, these mysterious others begin to arrive, engulfing their community in danger and chaos, and it becomes imperative that the teens solve the mystery of their deaths to avert a looming disaster.

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The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

A mother struggling to repress her violent past,
A son struggling to grasp his violent future,
A father blind to the danger that threatens them all.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

High on a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’

Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

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The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods

The Keeper of Stories meets The Lost Apothecary in this evocative and charming novel full of mystery and secrets.

‘The thing about books,’ she said ‘is that they help you to imagine a life bigger and better than you could ever dream of.’

On a quiet street in Dublin, a lost bookshop is waiting to be found…

For too long, Opaline, Martha and Henry have been the side characters in their own lives.

But when a vanishing bookshop casts its spell, these three unsuspecting strangers will discover that their own stories are every bit as extraordinary as the ones found in the pages of their beloved books. And by unlocking the secrets of the shelves, they find themselves transported to a world of wonder… where nothing is as it seems.

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