Meg Bowden

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Best-selling author Emily Giffin brings us a new novel about a pair of sisters engaged in classic sibling rivalry—with a twist.

Meredith and Josie Garland couldn’t be more opposite. Josie, a spontaneous, attention-seeking first-grade teacher, is ready to write off men after countless bad dates and a traumatic breakup. Meredith is settled with a husband and four-year-old, and practices law at a notable firm. Years earlier, they experienced an unthinkable tragedy: Their older brother, Daniel, died in a car accident, just three days after his 25th birthday.

The painful loss eventually drove the Garland parents to divorce, and strained the sisters’ bond. Though both live in their hometown of Atlanta, Meredith and Josie only see each other out of necessity or at family gatherings. Both women are finally taking a long, hard look at the lives they’ve created since Daniel’s death, and realizing that neither one knows how they got here.  Ironically, they both want what the other one has. People-pleaser Meredith starts exploring what it means to live life on her own terms, something she hasn’t done since Daniel’s death. Meanwhile, Josie, now in her late 30s, is weighing her options for starting a family without a husband. While they navigate their complicated relationships with others and themselves, a secret is uncovered about the night of Daniel’s accident. Suddenly, the Garland sisters are forced to face the realities of grief, forgiveness and putting love first.

Much like her other novels, which include Something Borrowed and Babyproof, First Comes Love is a classic “beach read,” but this time Giffin digs deeper. With strong, relatable characters, she manages to address a myriad of challenges that women face as they enter adulthood, while also keeping with her familiar, light-hearted dialogue that Giffin’s readers know and love. She cleverly shines a light on the nitty-gritty of marriage, motherhood, and sibling relationships without going too dark. Though the novel is full of “what ifs,” we’re certain that First Comes Love is this summer’s must-read.

Best-selling author Emily Giffin brings us a new novel about a pair of sisters engaged in classic sibling rivalry—with a twist.
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They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.

Poet Stacey Lane is grieving the recent death of her husband, Michael. Grad-school sweethearts, Michael and Stacey built a life and were raising two young sons in his hometown of Omaha. After his death, her future has become a big question mark.

Then Stacey gets the last email she ever expected to receive: A studio is interested in taking her provocative novel-in-verse, Monsters in the Afterlife, to the big screen, and they want her to consult on the adaptation. Stacey is whisked away to a remote island to meet with a team of actors, producers and writers. Once there, the prickly, acerbic Stacey finds herself drawn to the movie’s A-list star, Tommy DeMarco: To her surprise, the notorious playboy is the one who fell in love with Stacey’s very cerebral, feminist book. Amid high-stakes Hollywood meetings, screenwriting sessions and after-work nightcaps, Stacey and Tommy find themselves in a passionate, secret relationship. Soon enough, Stacey must choose between stability and taking the risk of discovering whether her connection with Tommy will survive everyday life.

Like Stacey’s novel-in-verse, poet Liz Kay’s debut novel feels like a natural book-to-film adaptation. The all-too-human protagonists are undeniably dysfunctional—both fond of drinking and, in Stacey’s words, “a little slutty”—but there is something appealing about them that makes the reader root for their success. Kay has created a heartfelt, sometimes dark but ultimately romantic story about what happens when two broken people come together.

They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.
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If you’re looking for a typical story in which two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after—this is not it. Theresa Rebeck’s comedic and heartbreaking love story, I’m Glad About You, is anything but predictable. From Hollywood red carpets to Midwestern mansions, Rebeck takes us on a wild ride through the lives of two high-school sweethearts who just can’t seem to get it right.

Alison Moore and Kyle Wallace’s romance was complicated from the start. They fell in love in high school, but went their separate ways after realizing their future ambitions didn’t quite align. Alison wanted to escape Cincinnati and become a movie star, while Kyle hoped to practice medicine. Years pass as they build their lives independently, but when fate brings them back to Cincinnati, they’re forced to face past regrets and the magnetic connection that remains despite the time and distance. Will they put their careers and families on the line to finally be together?

A seasoned playwright and producer—she was the creator of the TV drama “Smash”—Rebeck gives readers a behind-the-scenes peek into show business and the price of fame. Whether at a Hollywood movie set or a Midwestern cookout, her characters are faced with the (sometimes ugly) truth of what happens when life isn’t unfolding exactly how you thought it would. I’m Glad About You is a refreshingly honest character study that explores how flawed people attempt to build a love that thrives in a messy, complicated world.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

If you’re looking for a typical story in which two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after—this is not it. Theresa Rebeck’s comedic and heartbreaking love story, I’m Glad About You, is anything but predictable. From Hollywood red carpets to Midwestern mansions, Rebeck takes us on a wild ride through the lives of two high-school sweethearts who just can’t seem to get it right.
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Life looks bleak for Mattie Wallace. Penniless and three months pregnant, she has just walked out on her deadbeat boyfriend with six trash bags in the trunk of her ’78 Malibu. With no friends, no family and now no boyfriend, she heads to the only place she can even barely call home: her ex-stepfather’s doublewide in a Pensacola trailer park. Reluctantly, he takes her in, and just as their father-daughter bond begins to rekindle, Mattie learns that her grandmother has died and the inheritance is hers to claim. She and her trash bags hit the road again, bound for her late mother’s hometown of Gandy, Oklahoma.

Like many mother-daughter relationships, Mattie and Genie’s was a complicated one. With no a biological father in the picture, her mother was the only family Mattie knew. A tight-lipped alcoholic, Gertie never divulged many details about her upbringing, which never bothered Mattie—until now. When she arrives at the unfamiliar home of a grandmother she never met, Mattie finds her mother’s old room has been untouched for nearly 35 years. In fact, Genie’s room looks just like she vanished from it without a trace, which—to Mattie’s surprise—is exactly what happened.

Much to her annoyance, Mattie finds herself unable to cash in on her inheritance as planned. She’s stuck in Gandy and forced to rely on its quirky citizens, most of whom are anything but charming. From a drunken priest to a Goth teenager, Mattie befriends some unexpected characters who help her survive until the money comes in. Soon enough, she learns that these small-town folks are more than just weird—they hold the secrets of her mother’s elusive past.

Grief, laughter, sarcasm, heartache, sadness—Melissa DeCarlo’s debut novel has it all. Starting out with light-hearted humor thanks to the narration of its spunky protagonist, The Art of Crash Landing evolves into a compelling, genuine story about a woman’s search for her identity. Though DeCarlo recounts Mattie’s many failures, regrets and yes, even a few crash landings, our heroine ultimately demonstrates an art that every human hopes to master: the art of letting go.  

Life looks bleak for Mattie Wallace. Penniless and three months pregnant, she has just walked out on her deadbeat boyfriend with six trash bags in the trunk of her ’78 Malibu.

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They say that with every loss comes a gain, but in Charlie Cates’ case, that seems unimaginable. Her 5-year-old son’s sudden death from a brain aneurysm has turned her world upside down. A divorced single parent, Charlie put Keegan at the center of her world. Well-intentioned attempts from neighbors and colleagues to help Charlie get back on her feet only remind her of her dreaded new normal. When her old editor at Cold Crimes magazine calls with an unusual opportunity, Charlie—ready for a change—boldly seizes it, heading to Chicory, Louisiana, to write about a long-cold missing-persons case.

In 1982, 3-year-old Gabriel Deveau disappeared from his bedroom in the middle of the night. Although the case was highly publicized and ruthlessly investigated, no one was ever convicted, and no body was ever found. Charlie hopes to find a new angle—and she also thinks that the psychic visions she’s been having of children in danger since Keegan’s death may help her solve the mystery. But once she is inside the gates of the Deveaus’ luxurious plantation home, Charlie realizes there is more than one skeleton in the closet.

Hester Young’s debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline, is a thrilling Southern Gothic mystery. Full of family secrets, betrayals and unexpected romances, it pulls readers along on a dark, twisted ride through the Louisiana swamp.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

They say that with every loss comes a gain, but in Charlie Cates’ case, that seems unimaginable. Her 5-year-old son’s sudden death from a brain aneurysm has turned her world upside down. A divorced single parent, Charlie put Keegan at the center of her world. Well-intentioned attempts from neighbors and colleagues to help Charlie get back on her feet only remind her of her dreaded new normal. When her old editor at Cold Crimes magazine calls with an unusual opportunity, Charlie—ready for a change—boldly seizes it, heading to Chicory, Louisiana, to write about a long-cold missing-persons case.
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“The secret, they say, is to not regret—but that, I have found, is impossible. The most one can hope for is to forget.” Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10. Daughter of the affluent Bonet family, Cesca spent her summers at the family home in East Hampton, where she and Wylie briefly met during a round of childhood games with her siblings. Wylie, shy and introverted, was immediately enamored with Cesca’s magnetic charm and fearless nature. To him, she was perfect, even at such a young age.

Years pass before Wylie crosses paths with the Bonet family again. Throughout his adolescence, he romanticizes the idea of a life with Cesca, hoping for an opportunity to see her. It isn’t until Cesca’s grandfather’s 80th birthday party that his opportunity arrives. After brooding over every possible scenario, 16-year-old Wylie spots college-aged Cesca at the party, even more luminous and sensual than he remembered. However, Cesca barely looks in his direction, providing an opportunity for him to bond with her younger brother, Aurelio, a free-spirited painter. The two boys bond share an interest in art, and Aurelio agrees to foster Wylie’s artistic ambitions. As the night continues, Cesca finally acknowledges Wylie, entertained by his innocence and youthful modesty. Sparks quickly ignite, leading to a night of unexpected passion that will change their lives forever.

From Paris to Barcelona to New York, Girl in the Moonlight takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the complicated lives of Wylie, Cesca and the Bonet family. Much like author Charles Dubow’s first novel, Indiscretion, the setting feels very Gatsby-que, full of summer parties and depictions of New York social life. Narrated by protagonist Wylie, the story does not offer one big climax, but instead small explosions throughout, keeping the reader guessing from chapter to chapter. Dubow’s second novel is a passionate story that explores the capacity of love—and its unyielding ability to control us.

Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10.
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M.D. Waters provides even more suspense and revelations as she returns to the complicated dystopian world that she set up so brilliantly in her debut novel Archetype. Equal parts science fiction and romance, this two-book series follows our heroine Emma as she attempts to define herself in a futuristic world where cloning is an everyday affair.

At the end of Archetype, Emma had escaped her controlling husband, Declan Burke, after discovering that she is a clone of the resistance member Emma Wade. Now months have passed, and Emma has fled to Mexico to search for her parents in hopes that they can help her start a new life. When Declan appears on the news, offering a sizable reward for Emma’s return, she realizes that it is impossible for her new life to begin until her past is settled—including her feelings for Noah, the fellow resistance fighter she married before the cloning.

Much of the struggle in Prototype is internal, as Emma tries to overcome her past trauma. Archetype found Emma in a confused, fragile state, searching for answers and then discovering that she is a clone. By the conclusion of Prototype, Emma has transformed into a brave and determined woman who knows what she wants, and will fight hard to get it. With every turn of the page, Emma achieves the respect that comes from having loved, lost and fought every step of the way.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

M.D. Waters provides even more suspense and revelations as she returns to the complicated dystopian world that she set up so brilliantly in her debut novel Archetype. Equal parts science fiction and romance, this two-book series follows our heroine Emma as she attempts to define herself in a futuristic world where cloning is an everyday affair.
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Emma Burke wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how she got there. Her husband, Declan, tells her that she is recovering from an accident that nearly killed her. Disoriented and confused, Emma can’t recall any firm details about what happened to her or who she is. Physically, Emma slowly regains her strength, but her memory is not as quick to recover. Declan stays by her side, helping to fill in the blanks. He tells her how in love they once were, and Emma begins to fall head over heels all over again. That is, until she begins experiencing frequent nightmares and hears a woman’s voice in her head—both warning her that Declan is not who she thinks he is. 

The voice advises her to keep her dreams a secret, and soon enough, Emma learns why. When Emma ventures outside of the hospital, the mystery of her accident and her old life begins to unfold.

Maryland author M.D. Waters has made a memorable debut with Archetype. The story is carefully paced, slowly doling out clues about Emma’s situation, until, like Emma, the reader is smacked with a bombshell of a twist (or two!). Futuristic and suspenseful, it ends with a big question mark that is sure to be addressed in the sequel, Prototype, to be published in July. Combining elements of science fiction, romance and mystery, Archetype is a novel that will appeal to almost everyone.

Emma Burke wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how she got there. Her husband, Declan, tells her that she is recovering from an accident that nearly killed her. Disoriented and confused, Emma can’t recall any firm details about what happened to her or who she is. Physically, Emma slowly regains her strength, but her memory is not as quick to recover.

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One sweltering summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Val and her best friend June take their inflatable raft onto the bay—but only one of them returns home. Searching for answers and pertinent evidence, their neighborhood is shaken as residents attempt to solve the biggest mystery they’ve ever witnessed. Ivy Pochoda’s second novel, Visitation Street, uncovers Red Hook’s secrets, delving deep into a girl’s disappearance and the ghosts that arise in its wake.

As summertime wanes, 15-year-olds June and Val are craving adventure. Lanky and fair-haired, Val is timid and demure compared to June, her gregarious best friend. Much to Val’s dismay, June has developed into a buxom young woman seemingly overnight, and her priorities are shifting to a place where Val may no longer fit. Aiming to keep their friendship alive, Val suggests the two take a late-night ride out on the bay. A reluctant June agrees, and the girls set out in the unlit, humid streets of Red Hook. Moments after their raft is afloat, the two girls disappear. Only Val washes up on shore, badly bruised and semi-conscious.

Shocked by this unsettling event, the residents of Red Hook must deal with the aftermath of June’s disappearance. Cree, a friend of the girls who has just faced his own family tragedy, finds himself at the center of the police investigation. Fadi, a local bodega owner, uses his storefront to publicize June’s disappearance in hopes that it will become the neighborhood’s headquarters for news. Jonathan Sprouse, music appreciation teacher and frequent boozer, battles with his personal ties to the tragedy. In the middle of it all, pain-stricken Val buries a dark secret about that night, only revealing it to the one she trusts most.

A literary mystery, Pochoda’s story weaves through the haunting atmosphere of Red Hook, where drugs, drinking and violence dominate the streets. Truths about Red Hook are cleverly hidden throughout the novel, allowing the reader to determine which characters can be trusted. Full of vivid imagery and striking characters, Visitation Street ends with a bang you won’t want to miss.

One sweltering summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Val and her best friend June take their inflatable raft onto the bay—but only one of them returns home. Searching for answers and pertinent evidence, their neighborhood is shaken as residents attempt to solve the biggest mystery they’ve ever witnessed. Ivy Pochoda’s second novel, Visitation Street, uncovers […]
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Be careful what you wish for—this adage rings true for The Edge of the Earth protagonist Trudy, a young, educated girl living in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. Her upbringing is sheltered and traditional: After college, she is expected to marry her childhood friend, Ernst, and enter into a life of security and domesticity. Feeling overwhelmed by these preordained arrangements, Trudy is caught off guard when Ernst’s cousin, Oskar, returns to town. Naïve and vulnerable, she quickly falls for the intelligent and adventurous Oskar, abandoning the safe path that lies before her, and the two marry.

When Oskar takes a job as a lighthouse keeper, the couple moves across the country to Point Lucia, California. Their new home is surrounded by choppy waters, rugged mountains and impenetrable fog. Isolated from all but the other lighthouse keeper and his family, Trudy finds her world quickly changed. Burdened by work, Oskar grows distant and cold, and Trudy relies on letters from her parents and her childhood friend, Lucy, to keep her afloat. She becomes fascinated by the sea and its inhabitants, embarking on a scientific quest that uncovers some of the island’s secrets and alters each character’s fate.

Author of the 2000 bestseller Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz has created a haunting story. While many surprises are revealed within the final chapters, Schwarz slowly and beautifully describes the depths of each character throughout the novel. Set in a murky, isolated portion of the Pacific coastline, The Edge of the Earth paints a rich picture of mountainous landscapes and the aquatic life that Trudy comes to know so well. Told in brilliant detail, this is a memorable tale of an uncommon woman who embarks on the road less traveled.

Be careful what you wish for—this adage rings true for The Edge of the Earth protagonist Trudy, a young, educated girl living in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. Her upbringing is sheltered and traditional: After college, she is expected to marry her childhood friend, Ernst, and enter into a life of security and domesticity. Feeling […]
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Luther Gaunt lives his life on the road. Packed in a muddy brown van with his grandfather’s guitar, Cassie, he and his band mates are in pursuit of success. Searching for cold booze, crowded juke joints and material for their next song, the Long Gone Daddies waste no time hopping from town to town across the East coast. 

But this territory is familiar to Luther. His father and grandfather, John and Malcolm Gaunt, preceded him in this chaotic world: Both were musicians who were slaves to rock n’ roll, women and the open road. In the same circle as soon-to-be-legends like Elvis Presley, Malcolm Gaunt had the pipes, and the guts, to rise to the top. He was on the path to fame until temptation ruined him—and his chance to perform for an exec at Sun Records. He always looked for the next chance, the next feeling or the next adventure.

The novel ebbs and flows between past and present as Luther recalls dark memories of his family’s past. Trying to put the puzzle pieces together, he is plagued by his own father’s absence with each note he plays. He also remembers the tragic deaths of musicians before him, like Patsy Cline and Buddy Holly. What was it about fame that went hand-in-hand with sadness?

Unlike the band’s female counterpart, Delia, Luther isn’t seeking fame or fortune. From smoky dive bars to recording studios, he is chasing family ghosts, hopeful to unravel the secrets of the Gaunt men before him. When the Long Gone Daddies finally make it to Memphis, trust is broken and relationships are tested. Will Luther avoid the temptations of the road, or will his future be shaped by the ghosts of his past?

David Wesley William’s debut novel is heartfelt, full of musical history and honest characters. Just like a blues song, Long Gone Daddies is a lyrical and soulful story that will keep you hooked until the end.

Luther Gaunt lives his life on the road. Packed in a muddy brown van with his grandfather’s guitar, Cassie, he and his band mates are in pursuit of success. Searching for cold booze, crowded juke joints and material for their next song, the Long Gone Daddies waste no time hopping from town to town across […]

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