#1 The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
Mia Fredrickson, the wry, vituperative, tragic comic, poet narrator of The Summer Without Men, has been forced to reexamine her own life. One day, out of the blue, after 30 years of marriage, Mia's husband, a renowned neuroscientist, asks her for a "pause." This abrupt request sends her reeling and lands her in a psychiatric ward. The June following Mia's release from the hospital, she returns to the prairie town of her childhood, where her mother lives in an old people's home. Alone in a rented house, she rages and fumes and bemoans her sorry fate. Slowly, however, she is drawn into the lives of those around her -- her mother and her close friends, "the Five Swans," and her young neighbor with two small children and a loud angry husband -- and the adolescent girls in her poetry workshop whose scheming and petty cruelty carry a threat all their own.
Bottom line: A provocative, witty and revelatory novel about women and girls, love and marriage, and the age-old question of sameness and difference between the sexes.
#2 The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum
While growing up, Karena Jorge had always been the one to look out for her brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder. Always obsessed with severe weather, Charles began chasing storms, and his behavior grew increasingly erratic until a terrifying chase with Karena ended with deadly consequences, tearing the twins apart and changing their lives forever. Two decades later, Karena, now a reporter for the Minneapolis Ledger, gets a call from a mental health ward in Wichita, Kansas, to come pick up her brother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for 20 years. She soon discovers that Charles has lied to the doctors, taken medication that could make him dangerously manic and disappeared again. Having exhausted all her reporter's resources to track him down, Karena realizes she has only one last chance of finding Charles: the storms. Karena joins a team of professional stormchasers -- passionate adventurers who will transform her life and offer her a chance for love and redemption -- and embarks on an odyssey to find her brother before he does more damage to himself -- or to somebody else.
Bottom line: An electrifying summer read that will have you chasing through to the end.
#3 Hotel No Tell by Daphne Uviller
Hotel No Tell follows Zephyr Zuckerman, on the verge of 31, a junior investigator with New York City's Special Investigations Commission (SIC). She's undercover as a concierge at the Greenwich Village Hotel, trying -- and failing -- to track down a missing 100,000. Her detective boyfriend has moved out because of their disagreement about reproducing (he wants kids, Zephyr doesn't), and she's left with her Holland Lop bunny named after a famous atheist, an old friend who's married and miserable in suburban motherhood, and one new friend who's a wedding planner in dire need of an exorcist. It soon becomes clear that the trouble at the hotel goes much, much deeper than a little old-fashioned laundering. Before Zephyr can master the reservation system, she is yanking at the threads of a multi-million dollar egg donation scandal and re-examining her own motives for opting out of mommyhood.
Bottom line: A zany, loveable heroine and whip smart chick lit mystery/caper, what's not to love? This is the second novel featuring Zephyr, though it's not a sequel. If you fall in love with her, try Super in the City, the first book to feature this unforgettable character.
#4 Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright
A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage and freedom. There are consequences for Elyse, her family and her circle of close friends, all of whom have an investment in her life continuing as normal. But is normal what she really wants after all? In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find -- and follow -- her own path to happiness.
Bottom line: We raved about this book when it was in hardcover last year (it was a SheKnows Book Club pick), and now that it's in paperback (July 14) with a fabulous new cover, we can't wait to read this intelligent, sexy, absorbing novel about modern-day marriage all over again.
#5 Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
On the day she was abducted, Annie O'Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals -- sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor of the day pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as a captive of a sadistic psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape -- her struggle to piece her shattered spirit back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.
Bottom line: Mesmerizing, thrilling and not easy to read. But also very hard to put down. If you love a good thriller, this is the book for you.
More SheKnows Sizzlin' Summer Book Guide
Hot in hardcover: 7 Great books of summer
Hot eBook of summer: Twang
YA rules: 5 Hot young adult books