Explore the most hilarious, lush, and atmospheric new feel-good books of 2023. Read heartfelt and immersive stories that feel like hugs in book forms and will surely put you in a good mood.
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Must Read Atmospheric Feel-Good Books
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These riveting and warm novels are not only beautifully written but are capable of fully immersing their readers into their well-crafted and atmospheric worlds. Readers can explore new and exciting worlds, read historical novels, inspiring sci-fi and fantasy stories, as well as romance books that’ll surely make them feel uplifted and inspired.
Thanks to these wonderfully feel-good books all book lovers can be immersed in thought-provoking and inspiring books about friendship, love, family, nature, history, and even what humanity’s future might hold.
RELATED: Best New Funny Books To Read
These deeply atmospheric new novels take their readers on unforgettable adventures through space and time to prove that despite all the differences we all want the same things in life. No matter what your preferred genre is because you’ll find here a motivating and feel-good book that’ll stick with you long after you finished reading.
There are many amazing benefits of reading and a good book can be especially helpful and anxiety soothing if the story feels like a warm blanket. If you want to check out even more book lists filled with some of the most highly rated new fiction books, fantasy, novels, classics, and lesser-known gems from around the world then check out our online book nook.
24| Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah
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An unexpected friendship saves a young man’s life in this moving, utterly charming debut about chosen family, the winding road to happiness, and the grace of second chances.
Could I one day inspire happiness in others, the same way he seemed to do in me?
It’s 2005 and Harley has dropped out of college to move home, back to rural England, where he works a dead-end job at a movie theater.
Estranged from his father and finding every attempt at happiness futile, Harley is on the verge of making a devastating final decision. Fortunately for him, things don’t go according to plan, and his attempt on his own life is interrupted by his new roommate, Muddy.
Muddy is everything Harley is not: ostensibly heterosexual, freewheeling, confident in his masculinity. Despite their differences, a deep friendship blossoms between them when Muddy takes Harley under his wing and shows him everything that, in his eyes, makes life worth living: bird-watching, karaoke, rugby, and the band Oasis.
But this newfound friendship is complicated. It has enormous repercussions for the pair’s romantically entangled friend group–for Chelsea, an overbearing striver whose generosity they begrudgingly rely on; for Finlay, her raffish and uncouth boyfriend; and for Noria, who despite her simmering confidence is smarting from a series of unreturned affections.
And then there’s the violent affair with an older man that Harley finds himself slipping back into . . .
As secrets and jealousies endanger all that Harley has come to depend on, he finds himself faltering once again, even though he finally has something–and someone–to live for.
Soul-stirring and witty, full of hope and peopled with characters who feel like close friends, Small Joys explores a young man’s turbulent journey toward happiness and announces the arrival of an exciting voice in fiction.
Small Joys is one of the most heartwarming and uplifting feel-good books about the transformative power of an unexpected friendship, chosen family, and self-discovery.
23| The Stargazers by Harriet Evans
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Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling author Harriet Evans returns with an unputdownable tale of the infinite possibilities of familes – how they can anchor you or unseat you – and why unconditional love holds the key to true freedom. A must-read for lovers of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley and Santa Montefiore.
How can you ever know yourself when you were deprived of love as a child?
It’s the 1970s, and Sarah has spent a lifetime trying to bury her disjointed childhood, the loneliness of her school days, and Fane, the vast and crumbling family home so loved – and hated – by her mother, Iris, a woman as cruel as she is beautiful. Sarah’s solace has been her cello and the music that allowed her to dream, transporting her from the bleakness of those early years to a new life now with Daniel, her husband, in their noisy Hampstead home surrounded by bohemian friends and with a concert career that has brought her fame and restored a sense of self.
The past, though, has a habit of creeping into the present, and as long as Sarah tries to escape, it seems the pull of Fane, her mother, and the secrets of the generations hidden there, are slowly being revealed, threatening to unravel the fragile happiness she enjoys in the here and now. Sarah will need to travel back to Fane to confront her childhood and search for the true meaning of home.
Deliciously absorbing and rich with character and atmosphere, The Stargazers is the story of a house, a family, and the legacies of childhoods fractured through time and inheritance.
The Stargazers is a beautiful and warm story about family, self-discovery, and the power of unconditional love.
22| Earth’s the Right Place for Love by Elizabeth Berg
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This beautiful new novel by the beloved author of Open House and Talk Before Sleep tells the story of two young people growing up in Mason, Missouri, and how Arthur Moses, a shy young man, becomes the wise and compassionate person readers loved in The Story of Arthur Truluv.
Nola McCollum is the most desirable girl in Arthur’s class, and he is thrilled when they become friends. But Arthur wants far more than friendship. Unfortunately, Nola has a crush on the wrong Moses–Arthur’s older brother, Frank, who is busy pursuing his own love interest and avoiding the boys’ father, a war veteran with a drinking problem and a penchant for starting fights.
When a sudden tragedy rocks the family’s world, Arthur struggles to come to terms with his grief. In the end, it is nature that helps him to understand how to go on, beyond loss, and create a life of forgiveness and empathy. But what can he do about Nola, who seems confused about what she wants in life, and only half aware of the one who loves her most?
Full of unforgettable characters and written with Elizabeth Berg’s characteristic warmth, humor, and insight into people, Earth’s the Right Place for Love is about the power of kindness, character, and family, and how love can grow when you least expect it.
Earth’s the Right Place for Love is one of the most uplifting modern feel-good books about love, family, and kindness.
21| Promise Me by Jill Mansell
A witty, heartwarming story of love, life and second chances set in the idyllic Cotswolds, from the glorious Jill Mansell.
‘Jill Mansell is the queen of feelgood romance’ Sunday Express
One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has to start over.
The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn’t intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.
Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn’t recovered from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction – and luckily one’s about to turn up.
Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead…
Promise Me is a hilarious new feel-good romance novel for adults set in England.
20| The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa
Four generations of women experience love, loss, war, and hope from the rise of Nazism to the Cuban Revolution and finally, the fall of the Berlin Wall in this sweeping novel from the bestselling author of The German Girl.
Berlin, 1931: Ally Keller, a talented young poet, is alone and scared when she gives birth to a mixed-race daughter she names Lilith. As the Nazis rise to power, Ally knows she must keep her baby in the shadows to protect her against Hitler’s deadly ideology of Aryan purity.
But as she grows, it becomes more and more difficult to keep Lilith hidden so Ally sets in motion a dangerous and desperate plan to send her daughter across the ocean to safety.
Havana, 1958: Now an adult, Lilith has few memories of her mother or her childhood in Germany. Besides, she’s too excited for her future with her beloved Martin, a Cuban pilot with strong ties to the Batista government.
But as the flames of revolution ignite, Lilith and her newborn daughter, Nadine, find themselves at a terrifying crossroads.
Berlin, 1988: As a scientist in Berlin, Nadine is dedicated to ensuring the dignity of the remains of all those who were murdered by the Nazis.
Yet she has spent her entire lifetime avoiding the truth about her own family’s history. It takes her daughter, Luna, to encourage Nadine to uncover the truth about the choices her mother and grandmother made to ensure the survival of their children.
And it will fall to Luna to come to terms with a shocking betrayal that changes everything she thought she knew about her family’s past.
Separated by time but united by sacrifice, four women embark on journeys of self-discovery and find themselves to be living testaments to the power of motherly love.
The Night Travelers is a powerful and deeply atmospheric historical novel with a complex and hopeful story about love and loss.
19| Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
The acclaimed author of Love Lettering weaves a wise and witty new novel that echoes with timely questions about love, career, reconciling with the past, and finding your path while knowing your true worth.
Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.
But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.
Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest.
As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.
Honest and deeply emotional, Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away . . .
Georgie, All Along is a laugh-out-loud funny new feel-good novel for adults who love chick-lit and contemporary romance stories.
18| The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel
A wise and joyful novel that celebrates love, hate, and all of the glorious absurdity in between.
In the heart of Greenwich Village, three women form an accidental sorority when a baby—belonging to exactly none of them—lands on their collective doorstep.
Lauren and her family—lucky bastards—have been granted the use of a spectacular brownstone, teeming with history and dizzyingly unattractive 70s wallpaper. Adding to the home’s bohemian, grungy splendor is the bar occupying the basement, a (mostly) beloved dive called The Sweet Spot.
Within days of moving in, Lauren discovers that she has already made an enemy in the neighborhood by inadvertently sparking the divorce of a couple she has never actually met.
Melinda’s husband of thirty years has dumped her for a young celebrity entrepreneur named Felicity, and, to Melinda’s horror, the lovebirds are soon to become parents.
In her incandescent rage, Melinda wreaks havoc wherever she can, including in Felicity’s Soho boutique, where she has a fit of epic proportions, which happens to be caught on film.
Olivia—the industrious twenty-something behind the counter, who has big dreams and bigger debt—gets caught in the crossfire. In an effort to diffuse Melinda’s temper, Olivia has a tantrum of her own and gets unceremoniously canned, thanks to TikTok.
When Melinda’s ex follows his lover across the country, leaving their squalling baby behind, the three women rise to the occasion in order to forgive, to forget, to Ferberize, and to track down the wayward parents. But can their little village find a way toward the happily ever afters they all desire? Welcome to The Sweet Spot.
The Sweet Spot is one of the most charming and hilarious feel-good chick-lit books for adults.
17| Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler
For twenty-six-year-old Adelaide Williams, an American living in dreamy London, meeting Rory Hughes was like a lightning bolt out of the blue: this charming Englishman was The One she wasn’t even looking for.
Is it enough?
Does he respond to texts? Honor his commitments? Make advance plans? Sometimes, rarely, and no, not at all. But when he shines his light on her, the world makes sense, and Adelaide is convinced that, in his heart, he’s fallen just as deeply as she has.
Then, when Rory is rocked by an unexpected tragedy, Adelaide does everything in her power to hold him together—even if it means losing herself in the process.
When love asks too much of us, how do we find the strength to put ourselves first?
With unflinching honesty and heart, this relatable debut from a fresh new voice explores grief and mental health while capturing the timeless nature of what it’s like to be young and in love—with your friends, with your city, and with a person who cannot, will not, love you back.
Adelaide is a powerful contemporary feel-good romance novel with meaningful themes and positive messages.
16| The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane
From the beloved author of the triumphant New York Times bestseller Ask Again, Yes comes a magnificently told novel about the complexities of marriage, family, longing, and desire.
Malcolm Gephardt, the handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss is finally ready to retire, Malcolm is inspired to buy the place.
He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success—but quickly realizes that his customers don’t like change and that making a profit won’t be easy.
Malcolm’s wife Jess is smart, confident, and dedicated to her law career. But after years of trying to have a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her.
Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away, and while her hopes and expectations fall short of the current reality, she wonders how to reshape her life.
Taking place over the course of one tumultuous week, The Half Moon shows off Mary Beth Keane’s skilled storytelling and generous spirit as she carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.
The Half Moon is a deeply atmospheric and emotional new historical fiction novel that’s perfect for adults who are looking for meaningful and complex feel-good stories.
15| The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
Mikki Brammer’s The Collected Regrets of Clover is a big-hearted and life-affirming debut about a death doula who, in caring for others at the end of their life, has forgotten how to live her own, for readers of The Midnight Library.
What’s the point of giving someone a beautiful death if you can’t give yourself a beautiful life?
From the day she watched her kindergarten teacher drop dead during a dramatic telling of Peter Rabbit, Clover Brooks has felt a stronger connection with the dying than she has with the living.
After the beloved grandfather who raised her dies alone while she is traveling, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process.
Clover spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own, until the final wishes of a feisty old woman send Clover on a trip across the country to uncover a forgotten love story––and perhaps, her own happy ending.
As she finds herself struggling to navigate the uncharted roads of romance and friendship, Clover is forced to examine what she really wants, and whether she’ll have the courage to go after it.
Probing, clever, and hopeful, The Collected Regrets of Clover turns the normally taboo subject of death into a reason to celebrate life.
The Collected Regrets of Clover is a feel-good contemporary romance book for adults who love hopeful and clever stories.
13| Tress of the Emerald Sea (The Cosmere) by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Lyon (Illustrator)
#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson expands his Cosmere universe shared by The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn with a new standalone novel for everyone who loved The Princess Bride.
The only life Tress has known on her island home in an emerald-green ocean has been a simple one, with the simple pleasures of collecting cups brought by sailors from faraway lands and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie.
But when his father takes him on a voyage to find a bride and disaster strikes, Tress must stow away on a ship and seek the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea.
Amid the spore oceans where pirates abound, can Tress leave her simple life behind and make her own place sailing a sea where a single drop of water can mean instant death?
Tress of the Emerald Sea is one of the most beautiful new feel-good fantasy/fiction books for adults and teens with an enchanting romance story.
12| Maame by Jessica George
It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s.
At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living.
A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating.
But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils—and rewards—of putting her heart on the line.
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George’s Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship.
Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
Maame is one of the most emotional and beautiful new feel-good books about family and first love.
11| The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
When bookish young American Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company on a quiet street in Paris in 1919, she has no idea that she and her new bookstore will change the course of literature itself.
Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore and lending library: Many of the prominent writers of the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway, consider it a second home. It’s where some of the most important literary friendships of the twentieth century are forged–none more so than the one between Irish writer James Joyce and Sylvia herself. When Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Beach takes a massive risk and publishes it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company.
But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous and influential book of the century comes with steep costs. The future of her beloved store itself is threatened when Ulysses‘ success brings other publishers to woo Joyce away. Her most cherished relationships are put to the test as Paris is plunged deeper into the Depression and many expatriate friends return to America. As she faces painful personal and financial crises, Sylvia–a woman who has made it her mission to honor the life-changing impact of books–must decide what Shakespeare and Company truly means to her.
The Paris Bookseller is a charming and feel-good historical fiction book set in Paris and is a must-read for all bookworms.
10| The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.
When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.
For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.
Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.
Romance is most certainly dead… but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.
The Dead Romanticsis one of the most unique and atmospheric feel-good supernatural romance books about family, loos, and finding ones way back home.
9| Violeta by Isabel Allende
Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. . . .
She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy.
Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.
Told through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Violeta is a sweeping and wonderfully feel-good magical realism novel about one woman’s experiences during her lifetime that spanned over a hundred years.
8| Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party.
He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty.
Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended:
The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe
Sea of Tranquility is one of the most exciting new feel-good sci-fi books about love, art, and time.
7| Wild Is The Witch by Rachel Griffin
Iris Gray knows witches aren’t welcome in most towns. When she was forced to leave her last home, she left behind a father who was no longer willing to start over. And while the Witches’ Council was lenient in their punishment, Iris knows they’re keeping tabs on her.
Now settled in Washington, Iris never lets anyone see who she really is; instead, she vents her frustrations by writing curses she never intends to cast.
Otherwise, she spends her days at the wildlife refuge which would be the perfect job if not for Pike Alder, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist who interns with them.
Iris concocts the perfect curse for Pike: one that will turn him into a witch. But just as she’s about to dispel it, a bird swoops down and steals the curse before flying away.
If the bird dies, the curse will be unleashed―and the bird is a powerful amplifier, and unleashing the curse would turn not just Pike, but everyone in the region, into a witch.
New witches have no idea how to control their magic and the consequences would be dire. And the Witches’ Council does not look kindly on multiple offenses; if they found out, Iris could be stripped of her magic for good. Iris begs Pike to help her track the bird, and they set out on a trek through the Pacific Northwest looking for a single bird that could destroy everything.
It’s one of the most atmospheric new fantasy romance books that’s a great read for adults and YA readers alike.
Wild is The Witch is a magical and feel-good book about a young witch, first love, and finding redemption.
6| Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera
The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years.
When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos.
Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.
Neruda on the Park is a beautiful and sometimes heart-breaking but ultimately feel-good novel about family, friendship, community, and ambition.
5| Booth by Karen Joy Fowler
In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years.
Junius Booth–breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one–is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability.
One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.
As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families.
But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.
Booth is a beautiful and emotional novel about family ties and what holds them together.
4| Birds of California by Katie Cotugno
Former child actor Fiona St. James dropped out of the spotlight after a spectacularly public crash and burn. The tabloids called her crazy and self-destructive and said she’d lost her mind.
Now in her late twenties, Fiona believes her humiliating past is firmly behind her. She’s finally regained a modicum of privacy, and she won’t let anything–or anyone–mess it up.
Unlike Fiona, Sam Fox, who played her older brother on the popular television show Birds of California, loves the perks that come with being a successful Hollywood actor: fame, women, parties, money.
When his current show gets cancelled and his agent starts to avoid his calls, the desperate actor enthusiastically signs on for a Birds of California revival. But to make it happen, he needs Fiona St. James.
Against her better judgment, Fiona agrees to have lunch with Sam. What happens next takes them both by surprise.
Sam is enthralled by Fiona’s take-no-prisoners attitude, and Fiona discovers a lovable goofball behind Sam’s close-up-ready face. Long drives to the beach, late nights at dive bars… theirs is the kind of kitschy romance Hollywood sells. But just like in the rom-coms Fiona despises, there’s a twist that threatens her new love. Sam doesn’t know the full story behind her breakdown. What happens when she reveals the truth?
Birds of California is a sexy and hilarious feel-good romance novel set in modern-day Hollywood.
3| Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob.
As Luz navigates 1930’s Denver on her own, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished and how they were threatened.
She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.
Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga.
Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love, filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.
Woman of Light is a brilliant and immersive feel-good book about love, fate, and betrayal that follows the story of an Indigenous Chicano family through many generations.
2| Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up.
Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium.
Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Remarkably Bright Creatures is a wonderfully weird feel-good novel about a widow and her unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus.
1| Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
In the summer of 1995, ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s violence, seeking refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis.
Half a century ago, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass–only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in Memphis. This wasn’t the first time violence altered the course of Joan’s family’s trajectory, and she knows it won’t be the last.
Longing to become an artist, Joan pours her rage and grief into sketching portraits of the women of North Memphis–including their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who seems to know something about curses.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of voices, Memphis weaves back and forth in time to show how the past and future are forever intertwined. It is only when Joan comes to see herself as a continuation of a long matrilineal tradition–and the women in her family as her guides to healing–that she understands that her life does not have to be defined by vengeance. That the sole weapon she needs is her paintbrush.
Memphis is one of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written new feel-good books about family and society.
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