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Literary Love Children

LoveLogoAt the beginning of each month, we start the process of collecting titles for consideration for the next month's best Books Books of the Month, scouring reviews and industry news while swapping advance reading copies to arrive at an initial list usually over a hundred books long. So when we meet to begin hashing it out, we often apply a shorthand to our discussions, just to move the proceedings along. Sometimes they're useful, if predictable: "It's like Gone Girl crossed (or criss-crossed) with Strangers on a Train." They're also occasionally (frequently) ridiculous: "It's like Carrie, but if Nicholas Sparks wrote it." Once in a while, it just gets weird, but you'll just have to take my word on it.

Here are the conjectural genealogies for a few of our favorite new and upcoming books.


Parents: The Waltons, Bright Lights, Big City

Love Child: The Nest (Amazon's Best Books of March 2016, Debut Spotlight)

The Nest is a debut novel about a dysfunctional New York family. That's a pretty common subject for a novel and not very interesting in itself. But there's magic that happens when you pick up a book, start reading and realize that what the author has chosen to write about—the places, the characters, the dialogue, the set pieces—they're all just right. That's how I felt reading this book. The Nest is not populated with characters who are entirely lovable, but I felt each was uniquely human and identifiable, and I especially wanted to know where life would take the four 40-something Plumb family siblings (particularly that rapscallion Leo). Some will take issue with the Plumbs and their upper middle class problems. Some will detest Leo and his family and find harsher descriptions than "rapscallion." But for my money, The Nest is a great read. This book will be among my favorites of 2016, as I suspect it will be for many readers. --Chris Schluep


Parents: Little Red Riding Hood, Escape

Love Child: The Girl in the Red Coat (Amazon's Best Books of February 2016, Debut Spotlight)

It's every parent's nightmare: Beth, a single mother, takes her 8-year-old daughter, Carmel, to a local festival for some fun and frivolity and she vanishes. What follows is an unusual and terrifying journey for them both. Kate Hamer's sophisticated debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, is no ordinary whodunit, nor does it resort to over-the-top prurience to get under your skin. In many ways, this makes it even more chilling, as Hamer masterfully manipulates the reader into anticipating the worst with each (frantically) turned page. But ultimately it's two parallel tales of survival: How does Beth press on in the face of paralyzing shame and worry? How does Carmel keep her wits about her in a frightening and complex situation beyond her comprehension? What gives this novel unexpected power and heart are the ways in which they find to hold onto themselves. --Erin Kodicek


Parents: The Talented Mr. Ripley, 50 Shades of Grey

Love Child: Maestra

We're getting a little ahead of ourselves here, because Maestra isn't scheduled to be released until April 19. But the buzz is strong with this book. L.S. Hilton's debut seemingly has the makings of a VERY BIG THRILLER: A femme fatale protagonist with an ambiguous past and a present full of secrets, a twisty and twisted plot, and generous doses of sex and suspense.

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