In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a romantic comedy, a mystery, a historical novel, a guide to creative success, and an essay collection about aging and maturity.
★ When They Were Young
By Steven W. Horn
Synopsis: In this mystery, a gifted photographer discovers the corpse of a girl who went missing months earlier. Tests later reveal the presence of a date-rape drug in her body.
PW’s Takeaway: The investigation into Lilly’s fate builds toward a powerful, unexpectedly moving conclusion.
Comparable Title: Tony Hillerman’s A Thief of Time
Sample Line: “Her face was frozen to the icy ground. Her decomposing scalp had slipped forward in wrinkles above the dark sockets of her recessed eyes.”
★ Your New Best Friend
By Jayne Denker
Synopsis: During a chance encounter with a distraught young woman, 29-year-old real estate agent Melanie Abbott hands out some well-meaning suggestions and soon finds herself in a thriving business as a professional friend, advice giver, and matchmaker.
PW’s Takeaway: Good intentions go awry in this delicious romantic comedy by Denker.
Comparable Title: Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Match Me if You Can
Sample Line: “He kisses me hungrily, like I have the only supply of air he needs to breathe.”
★ Over the Hill and Gaining Speed
By Kay G. Rock.
Synopsis: Rock reflects on aging and retirement in this delightful essay collection.
PW’s Takeaway: Though aging can bring its demands, the author shows how the journey can be exciting and invigorating.
Comparable Title: Donald M. Murray’s My Twice-Lived Life
By Jessica Abel
Synopsis: Abel delivers a guide for people who have trouble finishing creative projects.
PW’s Takeaway: Abel’s tone is straightforward and encouraging as she promotes self-reflection and self-understanding as the keys to productivity.
Comparable Title: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic
The Painter’s Apprentice
By Laura Morelli
Synopsis: A story rich in art and love, tempered by sacrifice in Venice in 1510.
PW’s Takeaway: Period detail is woven seamlessly throughout...a vivid, transportive novel.
Comparable Title: Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring