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

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.”

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Your New Best Friend

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.”

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Over the Hill and Gaining Speed

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

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Growing Gills

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

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The Painter’s Apprentice

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

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