The Tall Poppies had a busy year publishing books for smart readers like you! Look over these titles to see what to add to your 2018 Reading Challenges!
Laguna Dreams, Kaira Rouda: Phillip Kensington has been a lucky man. His wine business is booming, he’s engaged and about to marry a woman he thought he loved. But she has changed since he slipped the ring on her finger. When Amanda, a beautiful stranger needs his help, he jumps into action. In the process, she helps him realize his future must change.
Forever is the Worst Long Time, Camille Pagan: When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.
As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.
When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
The Tiger in the House, Jacqueline Sheehan: Delia Lamont has had it. Though she loves her job at Portland, Maine’s child services agency, its frustrations have left her feeling burned out and restless. She’s ready to join her carefree sister Juniper and start a seaside bakery, celebrating and serving life’s sweetness for a change.
Then the call comes: a five-year-old girl has been found at the side of the road. She reveals that her first name is Hayley, but little more. The only clues to her family lead to a shadowy web of danger that reaches closer to Delia herself than she would ever guess.
As she seeks to discover where Hayley belongs, Delia is forced to reexamine her own painful history. With no guide but her own flawed instincts, Delia must decide how deep to venture into the unknown, whether in shaping the destiny of the child who has no one else to turn to—or in exploring the fierce dark corners of her own soul.
White Sand, Blue Sea, Anita Hughes: Set on St. Barts, the jewel of the Caribbean, Anita Hughes’s WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA is a heartwarming story about romance and adventure, and most important, about knowing yourself, and what makes you happy.
Olivia Miller is standing on the porch of her mother and stepfather’s plantation style villa in St. Barts. They have been coming here every April for years but she is always thrilled to see the horseshoe shaped bay of Gustavia and white sand of Gouverneur’s Beach. This trip should be particularly exciting because she is celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday and hoping that Finn, her boyfriend of four years, will propose.
The only person who won’t be here is her father, Sebastian, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He’s a well-known artist and crisscrosses the globe, painting and living in exotic locations like Kenya and China. When Sebastian unexpectedly walks through the door and floats back into Olivia’s life like a piece of bad driftwood she never knew she wanted, she starts to wonder if her world is too narrow. She questions the dreams and the relationship she’s always thought she wanted. But there seems to be more to the story than an innocent fatherly visit, and Olivia must decide if love is more important than truth.
The Secret Room, Sandra Block: Her patients are dying. Some are apparent suicides and others possible accidents, but rumors are flying that Dr. Zoe Goldman is an angel of death- intentionally helping hopeless cases go to a “better place”- or, worse yet, a dangerously incompetent doctor.
As a new psychiatry fellow at the local correctional facility, Zoe is still learning the ropes while watching her back to avoid some dangerous prisoners. As the deaths mount up, Zoe is wracked with horror and guilt, feverishly trying to figure out what is going wrong and even questioning her own sanity.
What Zoe doesn’t realize is that someone is targeting her patients to get to her. Someone who has access to her deepest secrets and fears. Someone who will stop at nothing to take everything Zoe has, even her life.
Slightly South of Simple, Kristy Woodson Harvey: Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.
Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.
All the Best People, Sonja Yoerg: Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.
But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.
The Distance Home, Orly Konig: Sixteen years ago, a tragic accident cost Emma Metz her two best friends—one human and one equine. Now, following her father’s death, Emma has reluctantly returned to the Maryland hometown she’d left under a cloud of guilt.
Sorting through her father’s affairs, Emma uncovers a history of lies tying her broken family to the one place she thought she could never return—her girlhood sanctuary, Jumping Frog Farm.
Emma finds herself drawn back to the stable after all these years. It’s easy to win forgiveness from a horse, but less so from her former friend Jillian, their once strong bond destroyed by secrets and betrayals. But despite Jillian’s cold reception, for the first time in years, Emma feels at home.To exorcise the past, Emma will have to release her guilt, embrace an uncertain future, and trust again in the healing power of horses.
The Simplicity of Cider, Amy E. Reichert
Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.
Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.
Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
In this Moment, Karma Brown
Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she’s able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.
After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.
Meg can’t help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy’s family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy’s father.
Soon Meg’s picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she’s been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?
Emerald Coast, Anita Hughes
Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.
Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.
Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?
The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay, Kelly Harms (Paperback Release)
Lily Stewart has reached a crossroads in her life. Her painting career hasn’t taken off, her best friend has changed beyond recognition, her relationship is a constant disappointment, and now she can’t keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. From ten years ago!
Lily decides it’s time to gather up the pieces of her life, and the first item on her list of things to fix is that annulment… but you can’t just send a text ten years later reading, “Hey BTW we are still married.” This is something that must be addressed in person, so Lily decides to track down her husband – the charming, enigmatic man she connected with all those years ago.
Ben Hutchinson left a high-profile dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small lake town he loves, Minnow Bay. He’s been living off the grid with the express purpose of making it hard to be found―so the last thing he expects is a wife he didn’t know he had making her presence known.
By chance, Lily finds her way to the magical Minnow Bay Inn. There she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, new inspiration, and maybe even a new chance to fall in love.
Where the Sweet Bird Sings, Ella Olsen
People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don’t move at all. A year after her young son’s death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah’s suggestion that they try to have another child.
As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family’s past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son’s disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle. Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at–a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last.
No Place I’d Rather Be, Cathy Lamb
Two years ago, Olivia Martindale left behind her Montana hometown and her husband, Jace, certain it was the best decision for both of them. Back temporarily to protect her almost-adopted daughters from their biological mother, she discovers an old, handwritten cookbook in the attic. Its pages are stained and torn, their edges scorched by flame. Some have been smeared by water . . . or tears. The recipes are written in different hands and in different languages. In between the pages are intriguing mementos, including a feather, a pressed rose, a charm, and unfamiliar photographs.
Hoping the recipes will offer a window into her grandmother’s closely guarded past, Olivia decides to make each dish, along with their favorite family cake recipes, and records her attempts. The result, like much of her life to date, involves a parade of near-disasters and chaotic appearances by her doctor mother, her blunt grandma, her short-tempered sister, and Olivia’s two hilarious daughters. The project is messy, real—and an unintended hit with viewers.
Even more surprising is the family history Olivia is uncovering, and her own reemerging ties to Montana, and to Jace. Generations of women have shared these recipes, offering strength and nourishment to each other and their loved ones. Now it’s Olivia’s turn to find healing—and determine where her home and her heart truly belong.
The Fifth of July, Kelly Simmons
Any of the Warners could have been behind the accident. Every one of them had a problem that threatened to tarnish more than their old-money silver.
Having spent the past three decades’ worth of summers on Nantucket, the Warners are as much a part of the island as the crust of salt on the ferry. But this year is different: Tripp is no longer the father he was, and it becomes clear that nothing—not the beams that hold the house together, and not the values the family clings to—can survive the ravages of time. When tradition turns to tragedy, the creaky old house swirls with suspicion. There are just so many reasons to want someone gone.
With no easy answers as to how, why, or who, the Warners must face another frightening question: do they really want to know the truth?
The Future She Left Behind, Marin Thomas
Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.
But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.
How to Stay, Katie Rose Guest Pryal
From the outside, it might seem like Miranda George has the perfect life—a wealthy family, a great education, a good paralegal job after college in her parents’ law firm. But all is not what it seems. When she’s assigned to Matthias Pino, the newest hire of The George Law Firm, she believes that he’ll be just like any other baby lawyer her parents have hired over the years: narcissistic, self-satisfied, and vain
When Matthias Pino meets Miranda George, the princess of Winston-Salem, he doesn’t try to wine and dine her. Instead, he shows her where he grew up, in the trailer parks outside of Winston-Salem. He takes her to his brother’s dog rescue farm instead of to a fancy brunch. If she’s going to choose him, he wants her to choose the real him.
But when a family nightmare threatens to drag them apart, Matthias learns that Miranda isn’t nearly as tough as she seems, and Miranda learns that the hardest thing to do is to—quite simply—stay
Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the vein of The Couple Next Door, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.
Blackbird Season, Kate Moretti
In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.
Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.
And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.
Last Christmas in Paris, Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor
August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…
Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?
Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…
Christmas in London, Anita Hughes
Set during London’s most festive time of year and filled with delicious food Anita Hughes’ Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season’s most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.
It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren’t hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day; so she agrees.
The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge’s. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.
And then there’s Kate, the show’s beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew’s in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.
Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education, Katie Rose Guest Pryal
Academia isn’t an easy place to be if your brain isn’t quite right.
Colleagues carelessly call each other “schizo” and “bipolar.” Another colleague is fired—easy enough to do these days, when most college teachers no longer have tenure—for “instability.” In these ways and many more, psychiatrically disabled people working in higher education are reminded every day that their privilege, their very livelihoods, can be stripped away by the groundless suspicions of others. Their lives can be, in an instant, interrupted.
The essays in this book cover topics such as disclosure of disabilities, accommodations and accessibility, how to be a good abled friend to a disabled person, the trigger warnings debate, and more. Written for a popular audience, for those with disabilities and for those who want to learn more about living a disabled life, Life of the Mind Interrupted aims to make higher education, and the rest of our society, more humane.
The Truth About Thea, Amy Impellizzeri
Will, a recovering heroin addict-turned-counselor for whom truth is a championed element to recovery, has a dark secret — shared with no one outside of his anonymous support meetings. Over twenty years ago, after an ultimatum from his pregnant ex-wife, Will was forced to assume a new identity and to fake his own death to get out from under his dealer and user-friends once and for all.
Now Will is counseling Thea, a young woman who has been diagnosed with a pathological addiction to creating fake social media identities, and who founded a start-up company (“Alibis”) that created false internet identities for clients, many with suspect pasts. Thea’s addiction has landed her in rehab as a condition of her parole — after a plea bargain cut short a court case that would have put both Thea and Alibis on trial for a very high-profile crime.
As Will works with Thea, the truth is put into motion on a collision course. Both Will’s, and his young client’s, secrets start to unravel … and reveal, at long last, the truth about Thea.
Perennials, Julie Cantrell
Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.
When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.
Left to Chance, Amy Sue Nathan
No one knows why Teddi Lerner left her hometown, but everyone knows why she’s back.
Twelve-year-old Shayna— talented, persistent, and adorable—persuaded “Aunt Tee” to return to Chance, Ohio, to photograph her father’s wedding. Even though it’s been six years since Shay’s mother, Celia, died, Teddi can hardly bear the thought of her best friend’s husband marrying someone else. But Teddi’s bond with Shay is stronger than the hurt.
Teddi knows it’s time to face the consequences of her hasty retreat from family, friends, and, her old flame, but when she looks through her viewfinder, nothing in her small town looks the same. That’s when she truly sees the hurt she’s caused and—maybe—how to fix it.
After the man she once loved accuses Teddi of forgetting Celia, Teddi finally admits why she ran away, and the guilt she’s carried with her. As Teddi relinquishes the distance that kept her safe, she’ll discover surprising truths about the people she left behind, and herself. And she’ll finally see what she overlooked all along in Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan.
Little Broken Things, Nicole Baart
I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn’s house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.
Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.
While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.