Laura Dave's latest novel is a winning family comedy set in Napa Wine Country. Just one week before her wedding, Georgia Ford finds out her fiancé has been keeping a 4-and-a-half-year-old secret from her. Distraught, she flees her final dress fitting for the refuge of her family home, The Last Straw winery. But it turns out her parents—and her brothers, Finn and Bobby—might have some more surprises in store for her.
Coming out of my parents' bedroom was a large man. Two hundred and fifty pounds large. With hair and skin I didn't recognize. In a towel.
My mother, in a matching towel, was standing close to him.
This man, who was not my father.
I dropped the phone. "Oh my God!" I screamed at the top of my lungs.
"Oh my God!" My mother screamed back.
The man moved away, backward into my parents' bedroom, which he apparently knew all too well.
He reached out his hand. "Henry," he said. "Henry Morgan."
I was stuck in place, right at the top of the stairs. I reached, as though it made sense, for this man's hand.
My mother covered her mouth in abject horror. I thought it was her disgrace at being caught. But then she reached for me, touching my cheek with the front of her hand, then with the back.
"What did you do to your wedding dress?" she asked.
What are you reading this week?
Teens already have plenty to read in preparation for the next school year, so nonrequired reading should be majorly entertaining. From big laughs to creepy thrillers, we've selected the best new YA books to keep teens reading all summer long:
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Hillyer's debut is perfect for a super-lazy summer day. When four friends reunite after drifting apart for years, a novelty photobooth sends the girls back in time to their last summer at camp, where they relive those sunkissed days and get a second chance at saving what has been lost. Read more>>>
The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
Konigsberg has a knack for balancing hilarity and real emotion, and his latest novel is no exception. New Yorker Carson and his psychologist mother are spending the summer in Billings, Montana, to care for Carson’s estranged, dying father. Then he meets Aisha, gay and cast out by her own father. Add a road trip plus plenty of quirky jokes, and you've got a great summer read. Read more>>>
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Ugh, sunshine. How about something a little darker? Hardinge's new novel is a fantastic work of horror without skimping on elegant prose. When Triss awakes from an accident, she's insatiably hungry and her parents are terrified of her, and yet she can't remember what happened. Cuckoo Song has creepy dolls and changelings so horrifying it'll make your skin crawl, and then you've got a nuanced exploration of post-WWII grief. This is horror at its best. Read more>>>
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Suma consistently blows us away with her unsettling tales and gorgeous writing, and we were rewarded with everything we wanted from this ghost story. After being convicted of murdering her abusive stepfather, Amber was sent to Aurora Hills, a juvenile detention facility, where she becomes roommates with Ori. Ambitious, Julliard-bound ballerina Vee was once Ori's best friend. The unraveling of these girls' darkest secrets is shocking, suspenseful and so, so good. Read more>>>
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
In this lush romance set in the historical Persian empire of Khorasan and inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, the courageous Shahrzad volunteers to marry the Caliph of Khorasan after her best friend becomes one of his murdered brides. But it seems there's something more to the Caliph—and soon her feelings start to grow. There's so much to enjoy about this kickass heroine. Read more>>>
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Maas kicks off a new series full of faeries and curses and lusty glances. Our heroine here is a bit of a damsel, but she's got an edge to her, and nothing will stop her when love is on the line. It's much spicier than her popular Throne of Glass series, so this one will be best suited to teens ages 14 and up. Read more>>>
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Based on her award-winning webcomic, Stevenson's riotous graphic novel is set in a medieval society with both old-world magic and high-tech gadgets. Nimona wants to be the sidekick to Ballister Blackheart, “the biggest name in supervillainy.” Go ahead—bust a gut. It's hilarious. Read more>>>
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
So you loved John Green and Levithan’s collaboration Will Grayson, Will Grayson (didn't EVERYONE?), and you were especially obsessed with the openly gay character Tiny. Now you can finally read Tiny's musical in its entirety. "Funny" doesn't even begin to describe it. Read more>>>
Undertow by Michael Buckley
Debut author Buckley serves up a major dose of action and entertainment in this sci-fi thriller set on Coney Island, renamed "Fish City" after the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the ocean. Read more>>>
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In the magical, feuding lands of Norta, Red-blooded commoners serve the Silver-blooded elite, who possess superhuman abilities. But when Red-blooded Mare discovers her own powers, the entire rigid class system is thrown into chaos. This will satisfy readers' thirst for dystopia while exceeding their expectations. Read more>>>
Two acclaimed novels (both of which earned slots on our Best Books of 2014 list) and an edgy supernatural thriller are out in paperback today:
The Bone Clocks
By David Mitchell
Random House • $18 • ISBN 9780812976823
The latest novel from the author of Cloud Atlas skips across decades and settings in a fantastical journey that showcases Mitchell's breathtaking skills as a writer.
What Is Visible
By Kimberly Elkins
Twelve • $15 • ISBN 9781455528950
Elkins' compelling debut is based on the life of a fascinating but almost forgotten historical figure: Laura Bridgman, who mastered language despite being deaf and blind and became one of the most famous women of the 19th century. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
By Lauren Beukes
Mulholland • $16 • ISBN 9780316216814
A serial killer is preying on victims in downtrodden Detroit, the most violent city in America. Even hardened Detective Gabrielle Versado is shocked by the sight of the first body—the torso of a boy, somehow fused with the legs of a deer. BookPage called it "one of the very best books of its kind," the New York Times called it "enormously satisfying" and Stephen King called it "scary as hell." Adventurous book clubs take note: The paperback includes a reading group guide.
June is Audio Month, and whether you're a lifelong fan of audiobooks or are interested in a pitch-perfect reading to keep you entertained during a summer road trip, we've rounded up five of our favorite and highly-acclaimed audios from the past year. Put your earbuds in and listen up to a great book!
Falling in Love
By Donna Leon
Leon's highbrow and worldy Commissario Guido Brunetti series continues with a classically noir investigation in Venice. Famous soprano Flavia Petrelli is set to sing Tosca at renowned opera house La Fenice, but an obsessive and relentless admirer soon turns vicious, and Brunetti must wind through the ancient streets and canals to track down this deranged villain. David Colacci brings this fast-paced mystery—and the achingly beautiful world of the Venetian opera—to vivid life.
H Is for Hawk
By Helen Macdonald
Macdonald's unusual and poetic memoir, H Is for Hawk, seamlessly weaves the story of her intimate struggle with grief following her father's unexpected death along with her fascinating attempt at training a wild and often vicious goshawk. Her passion for falconry and her ensuing relationship with goshawk Mabel unexpectedly gives her the strength and inspiration to rejoin the world.
Our Souls at Night
By Kent Haruf
Haruf's masterful, elegaic and final novel coupled with Mark Bramhall's flawless reading is a wonderful choice for those still, quiet summer evenings. Addie Moore, a lonely widow makes a "kind of proposal" to her neighbor, a longtime widower himself, Louis Waters: If he would be interested in sleeping with her each night—not for sex, but for companionship and human connection. The two develop an intensely close and poignant relationship, but not everyone in their small Colorado town sees the benefits, and the two friends must work to overcome the obstacles to their happiness in their "precious few" remaining days of life. Listen to this with a box of tissues at the ready, and prepare to have your own soul moved and changed.
By Lily King
Simon Vance and Xe Sands read King's lush and highly detailed historical novel, Euphoria. Named one of The New York Times' 10 Best Books of the Year, the story follows a fictionalized version of acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead, recast as Nell Stone, during her field work in 1933. When Stone and her husband meet a group of fellow scientists and intelluctuals, sexual and emotional tensions arise, and King's keen insight into the relationships between three very different ethnologists is beautifully transporting and touching.
By Eula Biss
To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? Listen up to Eula Biss' personal and probing exploration of this hot-button issue in On Immunity. As a new mother, Biss was faced with an array of anxiety-inducing choices about her child’s health options, but the issue she struggled with the most was vaccines. In this in-depth and well-researched look at our strange fear of vaccines and the lore surrounding them, Biss uncovers fascinating truths about our society as a whole.
Will you be listening in to a book this summer?
Father's Day is this Sunday, so we asked one of the authors featured in our Father's Day feature to suggest three books he loves—and we got a bonus!
In Year of the Dunk, Price takes on the mission of learning how to dunk a basketball, a seemingly straightforward goal that leads to some surprisingly heartfelt moments. Our reviewer writes, "Year of the Dunk, an exploration of what [Asher] calls the 'limits of human talent,' is an informative, inspiring and often moving story of how life’s tough challenges can motivate us." (Read the review.)
Despite, or maybe because of, my being a nonfiction writer, one whose professional career is spent dealing with facts, I like reading fiction in my spare time. I recently read a galley of a forthcoming novel by my brother-in-law, Benjamin Markovits, You Don’t Have to Live Like This. It’s about a group of Yalies who decide to set up a commune in Detroit; things don’t go smoothly. As with his other novels, this one is beautifully crafted and a pleasure to occupy—even when things get uncomfortable. It’ll be published in the U.S. in early July by HarperCollins.
Most of what I read comes to me as gifts; I figure if it was good enough for a dear friend to recommend it, I’ll probably like it. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend gave me A Pale View of the Hills as my birthday gift, and I sped through it. The novel, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first, is a story of isolation and dislocation in Japan, probing at intergenerational and husband-wife relationships after the war. One thing I especially like about Ishiguro’s work is the peculiarities of his narrators; he so fully commits himself to the narrator’s character as the work unfolds.
I read my first Jonathan Lethem novel earlier this year and loved it. Dissident Gardens, largely set in Queens, tells the story of raucous family wrestling with their Communism, Jewishness and American identity over many decades. The book especially resonated with me because my own grandmother lived in Forest Hills in Queens; she was not quite a fellow traveler of the left-wing activists that populate Lethem’s novel, but she was quirky and flinty in some similar ways. I’m sometimes defeated by long novels, but in a sign of the grip this one had on me, I happily spun through to the end.
Finally, it’s not exactly a book, but my bed-side reading each night is the latest issue of American Short Fiction, which—full disclosure!—is edited by wife. I find the stories, each first-class, are just the right length to settle my mind as I drift off to sleep.
Thank you, Asher! See any books you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Rebecca Markovits)
British author William Boyd returns this fall with his most sweeping, ambitious work since 2002's Any Human Heart. Sweet Caress, which Bloomsbury will publish in the USA on September 15, tells the story of the 20th century through the eyes of a remarkable female photographer, Amory Clay, born in 1908.
The novel is punctuated by authentic vintage photos, chosen by Boyd from thousands of images found in "junk shops, estate sales and the like," according to his publicist, Summer Smith. These images make the story feel even more real—blurring the line between fiction and reality.
Anyone else looking forward to this one?
RELATED CONTENT: Read more about this year's fall fiction releases.
From Harry Potter announcements that seem to roll out weekly (this week: American Hogwarts!) to new books, it seems J.K. Rowling never stops—and we're not complaining.
Rowling's mystery-writing alter ego, Robert Galbraith, returns October 20 with the third in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil, published by Mulholland Books.
Following The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, Career of Evil finds Detective Cormoran Strike and his girl Friday, Robin Ellacott, once again tackling a clever and unexpected mystery. From the publisher:
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible—and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them . . .
Readers: If you haven't yet checked out Rowling's traditional mysteries, now is the time. Are you looking forward to this one?
Donna Grant's Dark Kings series features a race of dragon shifters who have remained hidden in plain sight for centuries. In this guest post, Grant explains what drew her to the alluring mythology of dragons and talks about her next book in the series, Soul Scorched, out June 30.
Why dragons? I get that question a lot when I tell people my series, Dark Kings, is about dragons who have been around since the beginning of time.
I write about dragons because out of all the mythological creatures—and there are thousands—dragons are the only ones that show up in every culture around the world. From Asian and European countries to Native American folklore—everyone has a dragon myth. Some cultures revered the dragons and almost worshiped them. Other societies feared them and thought of them as bad omens.
I’ve always found that things like that don’t occur by coincidence. It got me asking, Why does every culture have a dragon myth? Why not another mythological creature, like fairies or goblins? Why only dragons?
Was it because there were dragons at one time? How else would societies across the globe have the same legends of huge beings, some with wings and some without, some that could breath fire and some that couldn’t? But if there were dragons, where did they go, and who was to blame for their disappearance? The only logical answer? Humans.
We are responsible for the dragons disappearing. It’s how each civilization knew about them, it’s how they passed down stories of the magnificent, huge beasts—or scary man-eaters—who came down from the sky breathing fire.
Was there a war? Did all the dragons leave? Or did some remain behind, sleeping deep underground, waiting for a time when they could rise once more and take to the skies. Could some be able to shift from dragon to human? Perhaps the man passing you on the street is a dragon in human form.
So I started thinking about how I could turn all those questions into a world of my own. I wanted my dragons to be leaders of their people. So I made them kings—Dragon Kings. I wanted them to be the only creatures on this planet for millions of years. Ever since time began, they ruled the skies, the earth and the seas.
Because of all of the different legends surrounding dragons, I knew the dragons’ downfall had to come at the hands of humans. A war perhaps, but how would the humans win over such creatures as dragons? I decided it was because the dragons vowed to protect humans, and dragons don’t break vows.
So the world of dragons faded to myth. Yet they hid in plain sight, living on their land in Scotland where they can take to the skies at night. Their lavish lifestyle is supported by their distilling and selling of whisky. Beings this powerful, however, have enemies—the Fae, as well as one of their own: a banished Dragon King who is looking for revenge.
Soul Scorched, book six in my Dark Kings series, features Warrick, a Dragon King who finds humans extremely interesting, although he detests being with a crowd. He does better on his own—until he’s sent to the dangerous city of Edinburgh to watch over the unusual Druid Darcy as the Fae and other enemies stalk the streets.
Looking for more romance? Sign up for our monthly romance newsletter, Smitten!
Dean McDermott has created a wealth of family-friendly recipes that take picky eaters into mind with The Gourmet Dad. Little ones will gladly eat their greens with this savory, smoky recipe for Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers.
Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers
Chard, like spinach and other earthy greens, is chock-full of nutrients that kids and adults need. In raw form, chard is an acquired taste (that’s a nice way of saying kids will spit it out). But braise or sauté these greens and they come to life. Any leafy greens like this need to be thoroughly rinsed before cooking—otherwise you risk a gritty mouth feel. For young chard, trim just the stems; for mature chard, discard the spines then chop and cook the stems. If larger, more mature chard leaves are all that are available, they are going to be more bitter than young chard. You might want to add about a teaspoon of sugar or agave nectar to the dish to mellow any bitterness and bring out the sweetness in the greens. For the kids, I chop the chard fine, leave out the cayenne and double the bacon.
Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Wash, rinse and dry the leaves and stems thoroughly. Slice the leaves lengthwise into ribbons, and slice the stems crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is crispy, turning occasionally. Transfer the lardons to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
Add the chard stems, garlic and shallots to the skillet, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chard leaves and toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with the black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the reserved lardons, the capers and the lemon zest, and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Reprinted from The Gourmet Dad by Dean McDermott, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Harlequin Publishing. Photography credit: James Tse Photography Inc. Read our review of this book.