Readerly Top Picks In Paperback – August 2015

Many of wonderful titles we’ve loved and recommended are now out in paperback. Enjoy!

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles (William Morrow Paperbacks)  The explosive first installment of a new trilogy, Natchez Burning whisks readers into the deep South where the crimes, secrets, and lies of the Civil Rights era still burn deep, only to resurface when least expected. Iles does not disappoint with his first novel in five years, successfully mixing a languid Southern atmosphere with a dizzying plot pace certain to keep readers riveted. —Michele Jacobsen

The Secret Place by Tana French (Penguin Books) The Secret Place is the latest installment of French’s highly­ regarded Dublin Murder Squad Series. A brutal murder at a prestigious boarding school offers two rookie detectives a chance to establish themselves. Maneuvering the byzantine world of teenage secrets proves to be dangerous and the case reveals more than just murder. French’s plotting is meticulous and the clever use of a binary narrative and timeline is utterly compelling. —Michele Jacobsen

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (Random House Trade Paperbacks) Anna is an American, an outsider living with her husband and two sons in Zurich. Despite having a near­perfect life, she’s lacking emotional connections. Desperate for closeness and approval, she becomes involved in numerous emotionless sexual affairs. Still, nothing evokes any sort of emotion until one singular action sends her life on a downward spiral. Brilliant in its uniqueness, an emotionally tolling exploration of love, marriage, sexuality, and the oftentimes devastating trek individuals take to discover themselves.—Jenn Lawrence

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Crime) If you haven’t delved into the world of Maisie Dobbs, the start of summer would be a perfect time. Jacqueline Winspear’s heroine was a nurse in World War I and must navigate a crumbling England in the war’s aftermath as she sets up shop as a detective. Although the second in the series, Birds of a Feather is still a great entrance point as Maisie tries to find a runaway heiress whose friends keep showing up dead. Though it isn’t immediately apparent, the echoes of the war have reached 1930, and this tale of grief and revenge will have you reaching for the next book in the series.—Jenn Ravey

So Much a Part of You by Polly Dugan (Back Bay Books) Polly Dugan’s collection of stories, So Much A Part Of You, focuses on families and relationships, and particularly how the relationships we develop in our formative years continue to play a big role in our lives as we age. Dugan’s writing is spare and unemotional, but the collection is full of emotion. Her characters experience love, loss, grief and anxiety, and she conveys those emotions beautifully through their actions and dialogue. The stories that focus on the college and post-college years are particularly accurate in capturing those confusing years of loneliness and feeling untethered. No one in these stories is perfect, and there is no neat bow at the end. But isn’t that how life is?—Gayle Weiswasser

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Berkley) People say it takes a village to raise a child, but the kindergarten parents of Moriarty’s Big Little Lies need a homicide detective. Little lies and ugly truths result in murder as Moriarty perfectly encapsulates modern parenting at its worst and most absurd. Readers will frantically turn the pages wanting to know whodunit and what other nasty little secrets are behind this upscale seaside town.—Alison Skap

The Martian by Andy Weir (Broadway Books) When a storm hits Mars, the crew of the Hermes is forced to abort their mission without fellow astronaut Mark Watney, who they believe was killed during the storm. Alive and stranded, Watney must use every ounce of resilience and strength to survive. Balancing technology and a thrilling storyline, The Martian is an intense and riveting story of endurance.—Jenn Lawrence