The Visitors by Sally Beauman

The VisitorsThe Visitors by Sally Beauman (July 8, Harper)

Based on a true story of discovery, The Visitors is New York Times bestselling author Sally Beauman’s brilliant recreation of the hunt for Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings—a dazzling blend of fact and fiction that brings to life a lost world of exploration, adventure, and danger, and the audacious men willing to sacrifice everything to find a lost treasure.

In 1922, when eleven year-old Lucy is sent to Egypt to recuperate from typhoid, she meets Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist. The friendship draws the impressionable young girl into the thrilling world of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, who are searching for the tomb of boy pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.

A haunting tale of love and loss, The Visitors retells the legendary story of Carter and Carnarvon’s hunt and their historical discovery, witnessed through the eyes of a vulnerable child whose fate becomes entangled in their dramatic quest. As events unfold, Lucy will discover the lengths some people will go to fulfill their deepest desires—and the lies that become the foundation of their lives.

Intensely atmospheric, The Visitors recalls the decadence of Egypt’s aristocratic colonial society, and illuminates the obsessive, daring men willing to risk everything—even their sanity—to claim a piece of the ancient past. As fascinating today as it was nearly a century ago, the search for King Tut’s tomb is made vivid and immediate in Sally Beauman’s skilled hands. A dazzling feat of imagination, The Visitors is a majestic work of historical fiction.

A compelling coming-of-age story mixed with a splashy historical of 1920s Egypt, this novel centers on the archaeologists made rich, famous, and mad searching for the pharaohs’ tombs.  The narrator – a  motherless girl, observant and ignorant in equal part – has a gripping voice, and the reader is immediately swept into her world of reckless adults, shocking selfishness, and history-making discoveries.  There is fantastic ambiance and detail to make the setting and era pop.—Audra Friend


Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters Of TreasonSisters of Treason  by Elizabeth Fremantle (July 8, Simon & Schuster)

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

Critically acclaimed historical fiction author Elizabeth Fremantle returns with Sisters of Treason, a dazzling account of Catherine and Mary Grey, the sisters of England’s famous nine day queen Lady Jane Grey, who find themselves precariously close to the crown following their sister’s execution in 1554. Fremantle presents a captivating portrait of two young women whose Tudor blood led only to anguish and misery in this finely-tuned novel. —Michele Jacobsen

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

The Hundred Year HouseThe Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai (July 10, Viking Adult)

Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

The Hundred-Year House is the ambitious, rewarding, and captivating tale of the mysterious and cursed Devohr family and the house that tells their story. A reverse generational saga that begins with the present and divulges both house and family secrets as the story makes it way back in time, The Hundred-Year House is full of clever wit and heart-breaking family dynamics that readers will not want to miss.—Michele Jacobsen

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold HandsClose Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (July 8, Random House)

 Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself — an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn’t know she had. But she still can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can. 

A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.

Emily Shepard survived the meltdown of a Vermont nuclear power plant; now only her attachment to a young orphan named Cameron and her love for Emily Dickinson’s poetry are giving her the will to survive. Exquisitely written in an unforgettable voice, Close Your Eyes, Hold Your Hands is another exceptional work from this talented and versatile author.—Beth Nolan Conners

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Summer QueenThe Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (July 1, Sourcebooks Landmark)

Eleanor of Aquitaine, the legendary 12th century queen of France and later of England, is one of the most powerful and irrepressible women in medieval history, and her story of romance, scandal and political intrigue has fascinated readers for centuries.

Young Eleanor (or Alienor as she was known) has everything to look forward to as the heiress to the wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father William X suddenly dies, childhood is over. Sent to Paris and forced to marry Prince Louis VII of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to King and Queen. At the age of just 13, Eleanor must leave everything behind and learn to navigate the complex and vivacious French court. Faced with great scandals, trials, fraught relationships, and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor finally sees what her future could hold if she could just seize the moment.

The first in this highly anticipated trilogy, The Summer Queen follows Eleanor through the Second Crusade to the end of her marriage to Louis VII. The author’s meticulous research (including delving into the Akashic records) portrays the Middle Ages and Eleanor with depth and vivid imagery unparalleled in historical fiction that will keep readers riveted and wanting more.

The Summer Queen is a fascinating look at the early life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Chadwick covers her entire marriage to Louis VII of France, a period typically given little attention compared to her second marriage to Henry II of England. Eleanor’s marriage to Louis is a fascinating part of history full of war, jealousy, and even a crusade and it gives a context to Eleanor’s later life that many stories lack.—Jen Karsbaek

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus OneOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes (July 1, Pamela Dorman Books)

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again. 

Good things happen to good people.  At least this is what single mother, Jess, tries to teach her children, both bullied mercilessly by neighborhood thugs.   Readers will share in Jess’s agony as she desperately tries to find a way out for her children. Luckily, Ed is a naïve software developer looking to escape his own mistakes, and the motley crew sets off on a road trip that is equal parts hilarious and touching. —Alison Skap

Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

Last Night At The Blue AngelLast Night at the Blue Angel by  Rebecca Rotert (July 1, Harper Audio)

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s Chicago jazz scene, a highly ambitious and stylish literary debut that combines the atmosphere and period detail of Amor Towles’ ”Rules of Civility” with the emotional depth and drama of ”The Memory Keeper’s Daughter”, about a talented but troubled singer, her precocious ten-year-old daughter, and their heartbreaking relationship. – - It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is a city of uneasy tensions – segregation, sexual experimentation, free love, the Cold War – but it is also home to one of the country’s most vibrant jazz scenes. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. Finally, her big break arrives – the cover of Look magazine. But success has come at enormous personal cost. Beautiful and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet extremely self-destructive woman whose charms are irresistible and dangerous for those around her. No one knows this better than Sophia, her clever ten-year-old daughter. – - For Sophia, Naomi is the center of her universe. As the only child of a single, unconventional mother, growing up in an adult world, Sophia has seen things beyond her years and her understanding. Unsettled by her uncertain home life, she harbors the terrible fear that the world could end at any moment, and compulsively keeps a running list of practical objects she will need to reinvent once nuclear catastrophe strikes. Her one constant is Jim, the photographer who is her best friend, surrogate father, and protector. But Jim is deeply in love with Naomi – a situation that adds to Sophia’s anxiety. – - Told from the alternating perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, their powerful and wrenching story unfolds in layers, revealing Sophia’s struggle for her mother’s love with Naomi’s desperate journey to stardom and the colorful cadre of close friends who shaped her along the way. – - Sophisticated yet poignant, Last Night at the Blue Angel is an unforgettable tale about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have. It is a story ripe with surprising twists and revelations, and an ending that is bound to break your heart

Rotert’s brilliant, emotional story about a struggling club singer and her daughter explores sexuality, family, and art in the mid-1900s. The novel, told from alternating viewpoints, gains added depth in the audiobook, thanks to the sympathetic performances of the narrators, who flawlessly capture the protagonists’ personalities. Nichols emphasizes singer Naomi’s erratic irresponsibility, whereas Davies picks up on young Sophia’s deep-rooted insecurities as mother and daughter face an uncertain future. [[Narrators:  Andrus Nichols, Caitlin Davies. Unabridged: 9 hr, 42 min]]—Candace B. Levy


S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C. by Ruben Castaneda

S Street RisingS Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C. by Ruben Castaneda (July 1, Bloomsbury)

During the height of the crack epidemic that decimated the streets of D.C., Ruben Castaneda covered the crime beat for the Washington Post. The first in his family to graduate from college, he had landed a job at one of the country’s premier newspapers. But his apparent success masked a devastating secret: he was a crack addict. Even as he covered the drug-fueled violence that was destroying the city, he was prowling S Street, a 24/7 open-air crack market, during his off hours, looking for his next fix. 

Castaneda’s remarkable book, S Street Rising, is more than a memoir; it’s a portrait of a city in crisis. It’s the adrenalin-infused story of the street where Castaneda quickly became a regular, and where a fledgling church led by a charismatic and streetwise pastorwas protected by the local drug kingpin, a dangerous man who followed an old-school code of honor. It’s the story of Castaneda’s friendship with an exceptional police homicide commander whose career was derailed when he ran afoul of Mayor Marion Barry and his political cronies. And it’s a study of the city itself as it tried to rise above the bloody crack epidemic and the corrosive politics of the Barry era. S Street Rising is The Wire meets the Oscar-winning movie Crash. And it’s all true.

S Street Rising is a fascinating account of the DC crack scene, as told by a former Washington Post crime reporter who was addicted to crack. Castaneda’s honest and frank discussion of his own issues juxtapose well against the larger story of a city fighting for its soul. Searing and difficult, but with moments of hope, this book is an absolute must for any nonfiction fan.—Swapna Krishna


How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

How To Tell Toledo From The Night SkyHow to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer (July 1, St. Martin’s Press)

Like a jewel shimmering in a Midwest skyline, the Toledo Institute of Astronomy is the nation’s premier center of astronomical discovery and a beacon of scientific learning for astronomers far and wide. Here, dreamy cosmologist George Dermont mines the stars to prove the existence of God. Here, Irene Sparks, an unsentimental scientist, creates black holes in captivity.

George and Irene are on a collision course with love, destiny and fate. They have everything in common: both are ambitious, both passionate about science, both lonely and yearning for connection. The air seems to hum when they’re together. But George and Irene’s attraction was not written in the stars. In fact their mothers, friends since childhood, raised them separately to become each other’s soulmates. 
When that long-secret plan triggers unintended consequences, the two astronomers must discover the truth about their destinies, and unravel the mystery of what Toledo holds for them—together or, perhaps, apart.

George Dermont knows his soul mate is a brown-haired astronomer who also happens to be a dreamer, but he doesn’t know how he knows, or why he sees ancient gods.  How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is a wonderfully weird blend of science, love and fate set against the trials of family and friendship.—Shannon Nemer


Conversion by Katherine Howe

ConversionConversion by Katherine Howe (July 1, Putnam Juvenile)

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Colleen Rowley and her friends are in their senior year at their prep school in Massachusetts when a mysterious illness strikes, causing girls to fall ill. Inspired by actual events, Conversion is a fast-paced and authentic read for YA lovers. Howe deftly captures the stress and distress of adolescence, played out in the shadow of history’s Salem Witch Trials.—Beth Nolan Conners