THE FROZEN RIVER by Ariel Lawhon

THE FROZEN RIVER is a gripping blend of historical fiction, thriller, and women’s fiction. From the first few minutes of the audiobook, I was immersed in a brutal Maine winter, the harsh realities of frontier life, a gruesome murder, and one of history’s unsung heroines: Martha Ballard, an 18th-century healer and midwife. An author’s note…

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THE TIGER IN THE HOUSE by Jacqueline Sheehan

THE TIGER IN THE HOUSE is a compelling, emotional read that dives into two separate worlds: schizophrenia and the opioid crisis. It’s part family drama, part thriller, and 100% page-turner. Plus there’s a subtle romantic thread and a dog you wish you could meet in real life. Add the characters, and this novel has everything.…

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SHARK HEART by Emily Habeck

SHARK HEART, a stunning debut unlike anything I’ve ever read, might be my favorite novel of 2023. The unique structure, the beautiful writing, and the powerful emotions make this love story unforgettable. Imagine a world in which humans can be inflicted with an illness that means they metamorphosize into birds, animals, or reptiles. There is…

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TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by Yaa Gyasi

TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM is a novel to savor. Full of beautiful, powerful sentences, it explores the impact of grief and mental illness on an immigrant family seeking a new life in America. That dream disintegrated quickly into a failed marriage, racism, poverty, and addiction. The story is told through the perspective of the daughter. Gifty is…

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THE OTHER PRINCESS by Denny S. Bryce

As a history major, I love fiction that breathes life into history’s forgotten figures. From page one of THE OTHER PRINCESS, I was gripped by the story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the princess from Yoruba, West Africa, who became Queen Victoria’s ward. We meet Sarah as five-year-old Aina. She’s strong-willed and destined—according to Yoruba tradition—for…

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THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune

I’m not a fantasy fan, but THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA has everything I love in a novel: laugh-out-loud moments, quirky characters, a lush setting, and the triumph of empathy and acceptance over prejudice and judgment. At the heart of the story is Linus Baker. Forty years old, overweight, and out-of-shape, Linus lives alone…

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WONDER DRUG by Jennifer Vanderbes

This book blew my mind, people. With a huge cast of characters that spans the globe and many decades, WONDER DRUG is a compelling, must-read page-turner. It’s a tale of corporate greed, corruption, malfeasance, gaslighting, lack of oversight, cover-ups, fraudulent advertising, negligent testing, and lies upon lies. (Seriously.) But it’s also a story that reveals…

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CHARM CITY ROCKS by Matthew Norman

I adored this laugh-out-loud love story about how a cardigan-wearing piano teacher steals the heart of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll chick who was once his celebrity crush. Billy is happy (happy enough). He likes his job and his students, his Baltimore neighborhood, his rented apartment over a record store, his Steinway piano, his complicated…

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THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN by Susanna Hoffs

Since I fell for my future husband on a transatlantic flight, how could I resist a love story about a couple who meet on a plane to London? Or ignore the promise of parallels to Jane Eyre, my favorite novel? Jane Start is a talented musician. Music is her oxygen and singing is a transformative…

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HAPPY PLACE by Emily Henry

I’m a huge fan of Emily Henry’s writing. Here’s one sentence I pulled at random from HAPPY PLACE: “I drain my soda like it’s my last shot of moonshine before an 1800s doctor pries a bullet from my arm.” Fab! As with her previous novels, HAPPY PLACE is a love story with heart and humor…

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