Lady Tan’s Circle of Women, by Lisa See
From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose and they vow to be forever friends. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom. But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife — embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights. How might a woman break free of these traditions and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women.
Love, Theoretically, by Ali Hazelwood
The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. In another life, Elsie offers her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people-pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs. It’s a pretty sweet gig — until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and arrogant older brother of her favorite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job. She’s prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but . . . those long, penetrating looks? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice?
The Quiet Tenant, by Clémence Michallon
Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life. When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his 13-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Rachel recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.
Liberty Biscuit, by Melanie Sue Bowles
Katherine Pearl Baker — Kip for short — is the only child on her family’s rural peach farm. She longs for a pet to ease the loneliness. Hiding in the woods on the Fourth of July, Kip encounters a bedraggled donkey with one eye and a floppy ear. Immediately smitten and compelled to protect him, she feeds him biscuits and takes him home. When it is discovered that the donkey fled an abusive owner, Kip’s father reluctantly allows him to stay. Kip is elated when her grandfather agrees to help her foster the donkey, who she names “Liberty Biscuit,” along with two emaciated horses removed by the local sheriff from the same home, as the cruelty case goes to court. A court order to return the horses, and even worse, Kip’s beloved Liberty Biscuit, to the owner who had starved and beaten them throws Kip’s world into turmoil. Proceeds from his book support Bowles’ charity, Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary.
What Were You Expecting? First Words for New Parents, by Cameron Spires
This little gem will have sleep-deprived new parents laughing until they cry (or crying until they laugh). The absolute perfect first read-aloud bedtime book, the striking art is for baby while the simple text is all grown up. (Ages infant-adult.)
Daddy & Me, Side by Side, by Pierce Freelon
Camping, fishing, trekking over rocks and through the woods is fun, but even more fun when Daddy is there. Daddy & Me celebrates family traditions and shared experiences and is perfect for Father’s Day or any day. (Ages 2-6.)
Pluto! Not a Planet? Not a Problem!, by Stacy McAnulty
Outer space comes alive in McAnulty’s “Our Universe” series. Fun facts and out of this world trivia will make any reader an expert on Pluto, a unique celestial orb. (Ages 4-8.)
Monster Camp, by Sarah Henning
Ghost stories around the fire are requisite activities at most summer camps, but what if you realize the monsters at your camp are actually your fellow campers? That’s what happens in this hilarious, slightly spooky summer sleepaway tale that is the perfect read for a long summer night. (Ages 9-12.)
The Storyteller, by Brandon Hobson
Ziggy is just a regular kid, well, a regular kid who encounters talking coyotes, singing frogs, prophesying snakes, truth-telling horses, a very interesting grandma, and Cherokee spirit people, the Nunnehi. Funny, sad, wise, and jam-packed with adventure, The Storyteller may be the very best book you’ll read in 2023. (Ages 10-14.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.