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Read-Alikes for ‘21st Birthday’ by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro | LibraryReads

Novels of War, Identity, and Power | Fiction Roundup

The Personal Librarian

This fictional account of Greene’s life feels authentic; the authors bring to life not only Belle but all those around her. An excellent piece of historical fiction that many readers will find hard to put down.
PREMIUM

Plot Twist

Turner’s (Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish) humorous latest has an enjoyable New Adult vibe. However, the convoluted ending will force readers to reread to figure out what exactly happened and how. There is a happily ever after, but not the one most readers will be expecting.

Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost

Fans of Jane Eyre who enjoyed Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs will appreciate this equally enjoyable retelling from Marcott (The Producer’s Daughter).

City of Dark Corners

This gritty stand-alone deals with Phoenix’s rough-and-tumble past and its questionable police force in the 1930s. Talton excels at creating the ambiance of historic Phoenix. Suggest for fans of realistic historical mysteries or Phoenix Noir.
PREMIUM

The Last Thing He Told Me

For readers who like a resilient, resourceful heroine and a compelling domestic suspense story.
PREMIUM

Playing the Palace

Carter’s humorous inner monologue and absurd mishaps will have readers giggling, but those making the inevitable comparison to Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue might close the book wishing for more emotional depth.
PREMIUM

The Bennet Women

Appiah-Kubi’s unique retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice gives it a modern spin with surprising twists and empowering storylines.
PREMIUM

Capture the Crown

Estep’s new series takes readers back to the world she built in “Crown of Shards,” filled once again with exciting machinations and a slow burn of romance.
PREMIUM

Maybe We Will

At times, the characters seem too good to be true, and the dialogue is a bit strained. A last-minute conflict doesn’t really add to the story. Best for fans of heartwarming easy reads with familiar characters.
PREMIUM

My Kind of Perfect

This cookie-cutter, will-they-or-won’t-they romance plods along according to formula, with love then marriage then a baby as the rule. Lilly’s narration can be quite mean at times, and the saccharine plot prompts a sugar rush. Skip it unless your romance collection is desperate for feel-good stories.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

Historical fiction fans will love this novel and its perfectly detailed descriptions of a long-gone era. This is another slam-dunk from Cleeton (Next Year in Havana).

The Soulmate Equation

With the laugh-out-loud voice that Lauren’s die-hard fans adore, this sweet, charming, and humorous book is a perfect match for readers looking for a low-stakes, high swoon-factor romance, but some readers may have concerns about the ethical implications of DNA-based matchmaking.

Pug Actually

There’s no big reveal, and (predictably) the right boy gets the girl and the villain is vanquished, but this amusing little novel is still a rollicking good time that will tickle readers’ funny bones with some lovely, laugh-out-loud moments. A word of caution: Reading this in public may cause uncontrollable laughter and create a scene.
PREMIUM

The Glorious Guinness Girls

This book’s title is mildly misleading, since the novel focuses less on the Guinness sisters and more on Fliss and the political turmoil raging outside the privileged walls of wealth and class. The tragedy that haunts them is palpable, but the story is unfortunately bogged down by too many characters and shallow society parties, and by Fliss’s overplayed guilt complex. After a promising start, the story quickly loses steam, eventually ending on a flat note.
PREMIUM

Blood Moon: A Wolves of Wolf Point Novel

An intriguing premise about menopausal women and (super)natural change, mixed with a touch of romance and mystery, make for a fun and grounded story. Definitely pair this book with its predecessor, Silver Moon, to understand the characters’ back stories.
PREMIUM

Too Good To Be Real

A setting that readers will undoubtedly wish to visit, a relatable hero and heroine, and a flock of feathered and furry sidekicks make this story memorable. It’s sure to please fans of romantic comedies, whether of the in-print or on-screen variety.

The House Guests

Fans of suspenseful domestic drama will love Richards’s (A Family of Strangers) tale of secrets, lies, and the ties that bind people.
PREMIUM

The Wrong Marquess

Recommended to fans of historical romance looking for plots driven by interpersonal conflict as opposed to outside forces.
PREMIUM

The Woman in Valencia

In this promising debut novel, Canadian author Perreault creates an unsettling world by digging deeply into her characters’ motivations and complexities.
PREMIUM

Heartbreak for Hire

A first pick for libraries where contemporary romance is popular.
PREMIUM

The Plot

Fans of slow-burn, character-driven thrillers will enjoy this story of an author who has a secret he is desperately trying to keep. Recommended for fans of secrets-fueled suspense writers like Jennifer Hillier, Clare Mackintosh, and Gilly Macmillan.
PREMIUM

The Other Me

Jeng’s debut is a page-turner with well-developed characters, and an accessible, comprehensible plot, but readers who don’t care for sci-fi or computer geekery might find parts of it challenging. A good pick for fans of modern women’s fiction about controlling one’s destiny.

Unsettled Ground

A gripping, unsettling narrative that ultimately offers a journey of resilience and hope, with unforgettable results.
PREMIUM

The Mothers

Heartstrings are pulled to the breaking point in this story of desperate desire for a child. With two couples and a terrible choice to make, there are plenty of ethical and emotional issues involved. This novel will appeal to readers interested in the topics of IVF or childbearing, though it may prove emotionally taxing for those readers as well.

The Turnout

Abbott (Give Me Your Hand) has a top-notch ability to reveal the dark undercurrents of women’s relationships and sexuality. Her taut, unsettling writing creates tension through the slightest actions and phrases, and keeps the pages turning. This is clever, chilling psychological suspense at its best.
PREMIUM

Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife

Weir creates a believable portrait of a savvy woman able to hold her own despite often having her life shaped by forces outside her control. A solid choice for Tudor enthusiasts looking for a well-researched, entertaining novel.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Chambers (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet) begins a delightful new series full of familiar themes: heart, hope, and purpose.

Our Woman in Moscow

Williams has a sure hand in this deceptively quiet novel, told from the perspective of three different women. She expertly shifts between family drama and a suspenseful espionage plot, and makes every word and note count. Fans of Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff will be looking for this one.

The Lost Girls

Readers who enjoy true crime, especially podcasts, as well as thrillers featuring unreliable narrators, will appreciate Chiarella’s (And Again) haunting story of lost girls, lost women, and revenge.
PREMIUM

Thirty-One Bones

Writing as Cry, Scottish author Gordon Brown (“Craig McIntyre” series) has created a darkly humorous adventure with a cast of exaggerated characters and a heroine who is smarter than all of them. Fans of capers with twisted plots might want to try this one.
PREMIUM

The Prodigal Daughter

Harrison follows Not of This Fold with a believable story about teen runaways, violence, sexual assault, and her ongoing examination of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the ending might not satisfy some readers, it is realistic. Readers of Betty Webb’s books may want to try this series.

The Hunting Wives

Cobb (Big Woods) writes a clever twisty plot in this alcohol-infused, sexually charged thriller. Gossipy, scandalous housewives behaving badly might make this the juiciest read of the season. For fans of Liane Moriarty.

The Russian Key

When Kate says “I was in my element, one lie following another, some good, some not so good,” she is so convincing that the author’s persona never intrudes. Spring-loaded with surprises, this debut from eightysomething Laber plumbs the depths of the USSR’s brutality, in a devious tale that matches the best of the TV series The Americans and Jason Matthews’s “Russian Sparrow” trilogy.

Find You First

Barclay (Elevator Pitch) deftly twists and turns all these characters into a taut and engrossing thriller that will keep readers guessing until the end. A definite must-read for fans of Harlan Coben, Jason Pinter, or Christopher Swann.
PREMIUM

One Half Truth

After Between Two Evils, this sixth police procedural in Dolan’s award-winning series combines current British social issues with a step-by-step investigation. Readers of Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James books may want to try this carefully plotted series.
PREMIUM

Incense and Sensibility

Dev’s latest is a deeply emotional story of responsibility and impossible love that will appeal to fans of Austen’s classic. It also provides an incisive look at a current political landscape of division and violence, while adding an ultimately hopeful spin. The book’s subjects are often serious, but its ultimate focus on being true to oneself and one’s principles makes this a satisfying and uplifting romance.
PREMIUM

We Have Always Been Here

An exciting debut that delves into themes of corporate conscription, the definition of humanity, and the complexity of relationships. This science fiction thriller will keep readers guessing and wondering past the final page.
PREMIUM

I Don’t Forgive You

In crime reporter Thompson’s gripping fiction debut, Allie is welcomed to her wealthy new neighborhood by being framed for murder. The spot-on depictions of modern parenthood and suburban life make this story even more suspenseful, as Allie tries to find the real murderer before her entire life is destroyed.

Open Water

In lovely, rhythmic prose that flows like poetry, photographer and debut novelist Nelson has written a brave and beautiful ode to love, to the importance of self-love, and to the joy of being seen and understood in a world that’s still set on denying Black personhood. An incandescent read that perfectly illuminates this moment in time.
PREMIUM

The Fiancée

White (The Secrets You Keep) creates a twisty family drama that maintains subdued tension as Summer seeks answers. While the novel is not exceptional, and the conclusion takes too long to wrap up dangling details, it is a welcome addition to popular fiction collections.
PREMIUM

A Special Place for Women

Fans of clever, witty women’s fiction with some family matters and a touch of romance will appreciate this unique story.

Immunity Index

This dystopian biothriller reads like a 21st-century version of Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, crossed with George Orwell’s 1984. The clone sisters and their creator each provide alternating perspectives of a chaotic world and evince that individuals can make a difference. The story they tell is hopeful, heartbreaking, and compelling at every turn. Highly recommended for readers of dystopian science fiction or political technothrillers.

The Atmospherians

A droll tale of self-examination and self-help run amok, culminating in an unexpected conclusion. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Nantucket Penny

Kennis is hard on himself in this follow-up to Nantucket Counterfeit. The mystery has a nail-biter of a climax that will appeal to most audiences, but its many story lines and large cast will be appreciated only by regular readers of the series.

Son of the Storm

Highly recommended for fans of epic fantasy based on non-European mythologies, like The Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse; readers who enjoy protagonists on troubled journeys, like in Jenn Lyons’s The House of Always; or anyone who likes to chew on stories with complex shenanigans.
PREMIUM

Out of Character

The romance builds gradually, since Jasper must overcome his distrust of Milo, but Milo’s growth as a character and his and Jasper’s earnest romance is worth the wait. Characters and events from Conventionally Yours, the first in the “True Colors” series, are sprinkled throughout, so readers may want to start at the beginning.
PREMIUM

The Clover Girls

Shipman’s (The Heirloom Garden) evocative novel is a love letter to Michigan summers, past and present, and to the value of lifelong friendships. A blissful summer read sure to please the author’s many fans, and fans of writers like Elin Hilderbrand or Kristin Hannah.
PREMIUM

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb

Despite some pacing issues (a rather slow beginning and a hurried, action-packed end), readers will still enjoy the tussles between the high-class Percy and the Robin Hood–like Kit.
PREMIUM

Seven Days in June

With funny, snappy writing and a strong eye for detail, Williams (The Perfect Find) builds a compelling, glamorous Black literary world for the protagonists to inhabit. The book balances a second-chance romance with themes of motherhood, childhood trauma, and life with chronic pain.
PREMIUM

Witch Please

There are laugh-out-loud moments, hot sex scenes, and shocking revelations, all of which will keep readers turning pages till the end. Recommended for general purchase.
PREMIUM

The Girl in His Shadow

With its strong woman protagonist and authentic period detail, this is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting readers to a place and time peopled with memorable characters. Readers who enjoy medical drama will gravitate to this book.
PREMIUM

A Recipe for Daphne

Good reading for all.
PREMIUM

Under the Magnolias

While Pa and Austin’s faith plays a large part in the book, the novel will likely have readership outside of Christian fiction fans. Recommended for fiction collections.

The Nature of Small Birds: A Novel

Finkbeiner (The Stories That Bind Us) has deftly written this narrative of ordinary people finding their way, set against a backdrop of global upheaval and war; the characters are realistic and vibrant. Readers looking for realist family stories with a subtle thread of faith, like Erin Bartels’s All That We Carried or Katie Ganshert’s No One Ever Asked, will want to read Finkbeiner’s latest.
PREMIUM

The Weight of Memory

Smucker (These Nameless Things) crafts beautiful sentences and haunting characters that immerse readers in a world where anything is possible but not everything is real. Recommended for fans of Ted Dekker or Tosca Lee.
PREMIUM

Come Back to Me

Hedlund (An Uncertain Choice) uses time travel, biblical knowledge, and history to create a thriller that will appeal to fans of Dan Brown’s The da Vinci Code. Recommended for libraries where Christian speculative fiction is popular, since this novel might not appeal to Hedlund’s usual readers.
PREMIUM

Day for Night

Set in 2018, on the eve of Brexit, the novel offers a play of light and dark figures as it moves from the art of filmmaking to Benjamin’s sense of stateless and impending doom, which finds an echo in Richard and Joanna’s foreboding about their marriage and the consequences of Brexit. A captivating mix of angst and wry humor.

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

Fans of the delightfully bizarre and quaintly humorous will love Oakley’s (You Were There Too) hopeful tale about the powerful bond of community and how far people will go to protect someone they love.

PREMIUM

The King of Infinite Space

Faye first won fans with an eclectic array of historical novels revisiting Jane Eyre and Sherlock Holmes. Her exciting new work should be especially appealing to readers who were intrigued by the reimaginings of Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, or Jeanette Winterson for the Hogarth Press Shakespeare project.

PREMIUM

The Startup Wife

Drawing on aspects of the author’s life, this tech-oriented novel offers readers a glimpse of the challenges of creating and running a startup. Anam brings the issue of gender equality in work and relationships to the forefront of the narrative. With a mention of the current pandemic woven into the story, Anam’s modern tale has plenty of talking points that will make it a good selection for book groups.

Hold Fast Through the Fire

The second “NeoG” novel (after A Pale Light in the Black) further expands the world of the futuristic coast guard and details the faithful, delightful crew of Zuma’s Ghost.

Songs in Ursa Major

Inspired by the folk rock scene of the late ’60s and early ’70s (and reputedly by the relationship between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell) this superbly crafted debut novel immerses readers in a story of family, love, and music from the first page. Brodie makes a point about the destructive force of drug abuse, and bears witness to unsavory business practices in the music industry. This book would make a wonderful movie; readers will long for an album of Jane’s songs to go with it.

PREMIUM

The Beautiful Things Shoppe

With realistic, though relatively low-key conflicts; quirky, warm-hearted secondary characters; and a believable love story, this will appeal to fans of contemporary enemies-to-lovers romances.
PREMIUM

The Lost Apothecary

This engrossing multi-timeline story should appeal to fans of Lauren Willig or Susanna Kearsley.

Flirting with Forever

This third book in the “Forever Yours” series (after Can’t Help Falling) proves Bastone is a must-read author, especially for the way she deftly weaves topics like grief, aging, and class difference into her contemporary romances. Here, she turns a disastrous first impression into a beautiful happily ever after.

The Bad Muslim Discount

Insightful, entertaining, and warmly recommended.
PREMIUM

Wild Rain

This sensual, captivating romance is highly recommended for all fiction collections.

The Echo Wife

Highly recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

Prodigal Son

Recommended for fans of the thriller genre; certainly a must-read for fans of Hurwitz.

PREMIUM

We Begin at the End

This unforgettable coming-of-age story of love, loss, loyalty, and friendship, along with its unexpected plot twists, will appeal to readers of crime fiction, thrillers, suspense, and fiction.

PREMIUM

Hot Under His Collar

Recommended for libraries where the author circulates well.
PREMIUM

Honey Girl

Listeners will relish this Own Voices debut love story, which focuses on Grace as a young Black woman trying to find a place in her family and in the world.
PREMIUM

A Discerning Eye

Boston-area libraries will want this local audiobook; the premise is clever, and it wraps up the crime. Other libraries may want to purchase on demand.

Great Circle

This new work from the award-winning Shipstead (Seating Arrangements) justifies its length, by its intricately designed plot and by giving its compelling cast of characters room to breathe. As Hadley learns some of Marian’s secrets (the ones that weren’t in the script) readers will wonder how much we can truly know anyone. Highly recommended.

Falling

Newman keeps up an extreme pace from the first page—a near-impossible task, considering that the hero is locked in a cockpit, unable to take action himself. This novel is like the films Die Hard and Speed on steroids, creating one of the year’s best thrillers.
PREMIUM

Bath Haus

A sleek, sexy queer thriller for fans of B. A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors.
PREMIUM

It Happened One Summer

This fish-out-of-water story features quirky characters in a charming working-class small town and a steamy, feel-good romance between opposites. Schitt’s Creek fans who just wanted to see Alexis get her happy ending will flock to this title.

Zabor, or The Psalms

An original work for all book lovers.

Brotherhood

Urgent and chilling reading from a multi-award–winning Senegalese author.

The Art of Losing

Highly recommended; from a multi-award–winning French novelist.
PREMIUM

The Book Smuggler

Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, this deeply informed view of the medieval Islamic world will absorb readers of serious historical fiction, and knowledge lovers like Mazid.

Roundabout of Death

Heartbreaking in its matter-of-factness, Khartash’s work delivers a clear sense of life amid war in his book’s brief span.

A Master of Djinn

Although the book is marketed as Clark’s debut novel, readers have been following him for several years (Ring Shout is an LJ 2020 Best Book) and this work builds upon his alternate history Cairo, bringing together several enjoyable characters in a richly detailed, action-packed novel.

Someone To Cherish

A must-read for fans of the series, this installment is a continuation of the high-quality characters and plot that readers have come to expect from Mary Balogh.
PREMIUM

While We Were Dating

Recommend to the author’s many fans, and readers who enjoyed the film Notting Hill.

PREMIUM

The Royals Next Door

Halle (A Nordic King) delivers a romance brimming with tension and fun, while putting mental health and trauma recovery at its center.
PREMIUM

The Promised Queen

Kennedy brings the “Forgotten Empires” trilogy to a gratifying close. Lia and Conrí truly come into their own, tackling hurdle after hurdle, in this nonstop novel.
PREMIUM

The Rooftop Party

Meister’s follow-up to Love Sold Separately is a fast and fun read with an engaging heroine and supporting cast. The author briefly recaps Dana’s backstory, so readers don’t need to read the first installment (although they may want to after reading this). For fans of rom-coms or light murder mysteries.
PREMIUM

City on the Edge

Because Swinson’s (“Frank Marr” series) father served in the U.S. Foreign Service and his family lived all over the world, this book has a particular realism and an almost autobiographical perspective. Readers who enjoy international intrigue, spies, and mystery, or coming-of-age stories, will enjoy this book.
PREMIUM

Twice Shy

Hogle (You Deserve Each Other) keeps this sweet story fast and light with likable main characters and a relatable subplot about anxiety. Best for fans of whimsical, escapist romance.
PREMIUM

Gone Missing in Harlem

Holloway’s impeccable mystery gives voice to the experiences of some Black American families during the early 20th century. Readers who enjoyed A Death in Harlem or Justina Ireland’s “Dread Nation” series will appreciate this book.
PREMIUM

Confessions from the Quilting Circle

As a heartwarming metaphor for families being stitched together out of different and imperfect pieces, this book will suit fans of romance who enjoy flawed but relatable characters.
PREMIUM

Before the Crown

Lovers of historical fiction and romance, fans of The Crown, and readers seeking an undemanding introduction to the intricacies of the British monarchy will enjoy this timely novel. Harding has clearly done her research; while hers is a story mired in supposition, there are some factual touches included.
PREMIUM

Hold Fast

Gelernter’s first novel is a pleasing romp through James Bond territory, set back a century and several decades and moved to Napoleonic France.
PREMIUM

How Not To Drown

Though a bit overly ambitious, Wriston’s (Vanishing Acts) novel contains strong characterizations that carry this peculiar family drama to an unpredictable, but apt and positive conclusion.
PREMIUM

Crying Wolf

Truelove’s dark, gritty prison drama is heavy on angst and light on steaminess. Readers who enjoy intrigue and a new twist on shifters will enjoy this story.
PREMIUM

Storm and Shelter

This anthology will likely appeal most to fans of Harlequin category romances or Regency romances that tend toward the dramatic.
PREMIUM

The Siren

St. John’s (The Lion’s Den) latest will please fans of Hollywood tales full of broken dreams and runaway egos more than traditional thriller readers. Hand it to devotees of quintessential beach reads and those looking to escape into the darker and steamier side of all things Tinseltown.
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