What a year, huh? Thank god this flaming tumbleweed made of discarded trash has finally come to a close. And while I don’t think that the world just magically improved the moment the clock struck 12:01am on January 1, 2021, at least we have some things to look forward to, like all the good books that are coming out. From highly anticipated debuts to new works from fave authors, here’s what we’ll be reading in 2021.
‘Be Dazzled’ by Ryan La Sala (January 5, 2021)
This Queer YA romance is like Project Runway meets ComicCon. Raffy has a passion for fashion design and is determined to win the cosplay competition at ComicCon. He has some stiff competition, though: Luca, his ex, who broke his heart. Which would be bad enough to deal with, except the two end up partnered together for the contest. This is gonna get messy.
‘The Push’ by Ashley Audrain (January 5, 2021)
The Push just might be the book of 2021. Its TV rights have already been sold, if that tells you anything. Blythe Connor survived a traumatic upbringing, which has left her unsure if motherhood is the right path for her. When her daughter Violet is born, it only brings Blythe’s fears to the surface—especially since, from the moment Violet enters the world, bad things start happening. Blythe struggles to love and understand her daughter, who keeps pushing them away. When tragedy strikes her family, Blythe is forced to finally come to terms with who her daughter really is.
‘What Could Be Saved’ by Liese O’Halleran Schwarz (January 12, 2021)
Alternating between Bangkok, 1972 and present-day Washington, D.C., What Could Be Saved follows Laura and Bea Preston, two sisters dealing with their mother’s dementia, who are contacted by a stranger who claims to be their brother who vanished 40 years earlier. Laura flies to Thailand to meet him and ends up with a lot more questions than answers.
‘Wings of Ebony’ by J. Elle (January 26, 2021)
Elle’s debut fantasy is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Rue, a Black teenager in Houston, has her entire world turned upside down when she finds out she’s half-god. And just in time, too, because evil forces are trying to take over the world. Naturally.
‘Do Better’ by Rachel Ricketts (February 2, 2021)
Need another book for your anti-racism education? Pick up a copy of Do Better, which offers mindful and practical steps to dismantle white supremacy on a personal and community level. Ricketts combines her experiences as an attorney, grief counselor, and anti-racism educator with her certifications in yoga, Reiki, and mindfulness to provide heart-centered and spirit-based practices.
‘Finlay Donovan Is Killing It’ by Elle Cosimano (February 2, 2021)
This is part fun read, part suspense. Finlay Donovan is newly divorced, barely making ends meet after her husband ran off with his secretary (so cliche). She’s behind on her book deal and dodging calls from her agent. Until one day when she meets her agent to discuss progress on her new novel, about a hit man, and a rich housewife overhears and thinks she’s actually a murderer for hire. Finlay would chalk it up to a misunderstanding and go on her way… but the money the woman’s offering might be too good to pass up.
‘Girl A’ by Abigail Dean (February 2, 2021)
Lexie is known to the world as Girl A, after escaping a horrific childhood of abuse and rescuing her siblings from her parents’ house of horrors. She’s fine with that and prefers to leave her past in the past, which is usually easy since she relocated to the other side of the world, her father died, and her mother was sentenced to life in prison. But when her mother dies and Lexie is named the executor of her will, she’s forced to return and unbury her past, which means coming to terms with the fact that she and her siblings don’t remember their childhood the same way.
‘The Kindest Lie’ by Nancy Johnson (February 2, 2021)
It’s Chicago in 2008. Barack Obama is ushering in a new wave of hope. Enter: Ruth, Ivy League graduate and Black engineer, who’s about to start a family with her smart, successful husband. There’s one problem: Ruth can’t let go of feeling like she needs to make peace with the baby she abandoned as a teenager. She returns home to start digging into the past and befriends Midnight, a white teenager. When a traumatic event brings the town’s simmering racial tensions to a boiling point, Ruth and Midnight’s friendship—and lives—get pushed to the breaking point.
‘The Project’ by Courtney Summers (February 2, 2021)
Fans of Courtney Summers and Sadie can finally breathe now that her new novel is coming out. Just like Sadie, The Project has a true crime element, though this time we’re not just dealing with a missing sister, but a sister who’s run off to join cults. The cult in question is a group called the Unity Project, which has undeniably done a lot of good in the community. Some, in fact, don’t even think it’s a cult. Lo Denham, though, is determined to uncover The Project for what it really is. When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works at claiming the Unity Project killed his son, Lo just might have the chance to prove to everyone what she’s been saying all along.
‘The Removed’ by Brandon Hobson (February 2, 2021)
Ever since Ray-Ray was killed in a police shooting 15 years ago, the Echote family hasn’t been the same. They rarely talk about Ray-Ray and each member of the family muddles along in their own silo of grief. Their annual family bonfire is the one opportunity they get to talk about his memory. As this year’s bonfire approaches, each family member finds the line between the normal and spirit worlds blurring—to bizarre ends.
‘The Gilded Ones’ by Namina Forna (February 9, 2021)
I’ve literally been waiting for this book since 2019, so yeah, it deserves a spot on the “most anticipated” list. The first book in the Deathless series, The Gilded Ones follows Deka, a 16-year-old who lives in fear of the blood ceremony that will decide whether she can become a member of her village. But the blood ceremony doesn’t go her way, and Deka knows she faces a fate worse than death. That is, until a mysterious woman presents her with the choice to leave the village to fight the emperor with an army of girls who are just like her.
‘Quiet In Her Bones’ by Nalini Singh (February 23, 2021)
When socialite Nina Rai disappeared one night, everyone assumed she’d just grown tired of her life and run away. Until 10 years later when her bones turn up in the forest surrounding her tony neighborhood. Nina’s son, Arav, is determined to find out the truth—but suddenly nobody wants to talk.
‘The Lost Apothecary’ by Sarah Penner (March 2, 2021)
The past and the present meet in Penner’s debut novel. In 18th century London, a female apothecary secretly doles out poison to women who need permanent solutions for the toxic men in their lives. She has two rules: every recipient must be carefully tracked in her logbook, and she will never do harm to another woman. In present day London, Caroline takes a solo trip to London after learning of her husband’s infidelity, and ends up discovering a vial from the apothecary.
‘Too Good To Be True’ by Carola Lovering (March 2, 2021)
I could not be more excited that the author of Tell Me Lies is back, this time with a psychological suspense. Skye Starling seems to have it all: beautiful, smart, a doting boyfriend who proposes. What she doesn’t show is that she’s battled crippling OCD since childhood. And what she doesn’t know is that her devoted fiancée is anything but. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, Lovering will throw another curve ball at you.
‘The Jigsaw Man’ by Nadine Matheson (March 16, 2021)
Matheson is a criminal defense attorney-turned-author whose debut tackles race and sexism in the legal system. In Jigsaw Man, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is her unit’s sole Black female detective. She’s racing to catch an infamous serial killer and his copycat before more people turn up dead.
‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ by Pip Williams (April 4, 2021)
Based on actual events, The Dictionary of Lost Words is set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement. As a group of male scholars puts together the first Oxford English Dictionary, one of the scholars’ daughters decides to collect the “objectionable” words they deem not suitable for the dictionary. The result is her own dictionary of lost words.
‘The Last Exiles’ by Ann Shin (April 6, 2020)
Inspired by true events, The Last Exiles is a portrait of a young couple, Jin and Suja, who fell in love in university and whose relationship is put to the test by Kim Jong-il’s regime. Suja is an aspiring journalist from a well-off family, and Jin is from a humble family in a small village. When Jin returns home to find his family starving, he makes a split-second decision that will change the course of his life forever. Suja, knowing nothing about what Jin has done, risks her family, her privilege, and her life to find him.
‘You Love Me’ by Caroline Kepnes (April 6, 2021)
The third book in the Joe Goldberg series opens with Joe leaving city life behind and moving to an island in the Pacific Northwest to be one with nature. He gets a job at the library and that’s where he meets Mary Kay, the librarian. This time, Joe tells himself he won’t obsess or impose. But this is Joe Goldberg, so we all know what’s really going to happen.
‘Dial A for Aunties’ by Jessie Q. Sutanto (April 27, 2021)
What do you get when you accidentally kill your blind date? Well, most of us would probably get arrested, but Meddelin Chan’s aunties come to the rescue to help her, um, dispose of the evidence. All would be well except the body is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the billionaire wedding all the ladies are working. As if pulling off the wedding of the century isn’t hard enough, now the Chans have to do it without getting discovered in the process.
‘The Woman With The Blue Star’ by Pam Jenoff (May 4, 2021)
In Krakow 1942, an unlikely friendship forms. 18-year-old Sadie Gault was living in the Krakow ghetto until the Nazis liquidated it, forcing its residents to live in the sewers. Well-to-do Eliza Stepanek wanders the streets aimlessly after her fiancé goes off to war. When she spots Sadie hiding beneath a grate in the street, she decides to help her, and the two form a friendship that faces the most difficult of tests.
‘People We Meet on Vacation’ by Emily Henry (May 11, 2021)
If you loved Emily Henry’s aptly named Beach Read, get ready for another sizzling romance that will thaw your cold heart. Poppy and Alex are total opposites and best friends. They have a tradition of taking a trip together every summer, until two years ago, when it all went to sh*t. With her life going downhill, Poppy decides to throw one final Hail Mary and convinces Alex to take another vacation with her. Is a week long enough to fix everything that went wrong with them?
‘The Hunting Wives’ by May Cobb (May 21, 2021)
ATTN anyone who loves Big Little Lies, Mean Girls, and Desperate Housewives: May Cobb’s upcoming suspense novel is for you. Sophie O’Neill moves from her big-city life in Chicago to a small town in east Texas with her husband and young son. Looking for a little more excitement, Sophie meets Margot Banks, who is a part of an elite clique known as the Hunting Wives. She immediately feels drawn toward Margot and her mysterious world full of late-night adventures and reckless partying… until she lands in the middle of a murder investigation. Suddenly this group is not so fun.
‘Malibu Rising’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid (May 25, 2021)
Author of the sensation Daisy Jones and the Six is back with a new novel about four famous siblings who throw an end-of-summer party where the roof is on fire… literally. Told over the span of one unforgettable night in August 1983, this novel has it all: love stories, secrets, sacrifices, and much more.
‘The Maidens’ by Alex Michaelides (June 1, 2021)
From the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes the latest tale of suspense from Alex Michaelides. Mariana Andros knows the charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge, Edward Fosca, is a murderer. Except he’s untouchable—he even has a secret society of female admirers called The Maidens. When another body turns up, Mariana becomes determined to expose who Andros really is, no matter the cost.
‘The Other Black Girl’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1, 2021)
When two young Black women get jobs in publishing, the resulting novel is like The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out. 26-year-old Nella is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner books, and when Hazel starts working next to her, it seems like a dream come true—until Hazel is promoted and Nella is left behind. Then Nella starts getting notes on her desk urging her to leave Wagner. It seems like obvious sabotage from Hazel, but as Nella starts investigating, she realizes there’s a lot more at stake than just her job.
‘Razorblade Tears’ by S.A. Cosby (July 6, 2021)
On the surface, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee have little in common. They’re both ex-cons, and when their sons get married, they become in-laws (who struggle to accept their sons’ relationship). When their sons are murdered, Ike and Buddy must move past their differences in order to figure out what happened.
‘Mona at Sea’ by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (June 30, 2021)
Mona Mireles is a millennial perfectionist who nonetheless finds herself unemployed, living with her parents, and single at the height of the recession in 2008. This isn’t a gripping page-turner, but it’s a witty and relatable read—perfect for vacation or the beach (provided we can go there in summer 2021).
Images: @laurachouette / Unsplash
When it comes to picking out a new book, sometimes I can be indecisive. I’m about to commit to this for the next 300 or so pages. Do I want something summery? Something dark and twisted? Or maybe more domestic fiction? It can be a real head-scratcher. That is, until I picked up a copy of Someone Else’s Secret by Julia Spiro, out July 1, 2020, which has a little bit of everything.
After graduating Bowdoin with a degree in art history, no job prospects, and no trust fund or rich parents to fall back on, Lindsey takes a job as a nanny for Carol and Jonathan, a well-to-do and well-connected couple on Martha’s Vineyard. In her care are 5-year-old Robert aka Berty, and 15-year-old Georgina aka Georgie. Lindsey, who comes from a working-class family, doesn’t exactly fit in with the types of people who summer on Martha’s Vineyard (and use “summer” as a verb), like her fellow Bowdoin alum Joanna and her friends. Over the course of the summer, Lindsey and Georgie develop a sort of friendship (or at least, an understanding), until an act of violence shatters their bond. Someone Else’s Secret is Julia Spiro’s first novel, and Betches readers can get an exclusive excerpt right here, before it comes out on July 1.
When her alarm went off at seven thirty, Lindsey was already awake. She had woken up a few minutes earlier and stayed still in bed, staring at the warm sunlight streaming in through the shutter slats, painting the room in bright stripes.
She’d decided not to tell her mom, or Rose, or anyone, about her strange encounter with Jonathan the night before. He was probably just an awkward guy, she told herself. Not everything has to mean something, she resolved. And what was he going to do, really? Hit on her in his own house with his wife and kids there? This was real life, she told herself, not a bad movie.
She thought about Dylan as she rose from bed: the ease of his walk, the way he had gently picked up her bike, the way he had looked at her directly in her eyes when he said goodbye, the way his hand felt on hers, the way her feet seemed to float off the ground when they were together. But in the light of day, she was angry with herself for thinking about him. It was obvious that Dylan wasn’t part of Joanna’s crowd. He was a local, a townie, and even though Lindsey had been on the island for only one night, she knew already that someone like him wasn’t part of her future plans. Where could it possibly go?
She brought her phone with her into the bathroom, skimming through emails as she brushed her teeth. Her phone buzzed with a text from a number she didn’t recognize. Dylan, she thought. She opened the text. Hey, it’s Brian. Nice meeting you last night. Hope to see you around.
Lindsey let the brush hang out the side of her mouth, foam frothing at the corner of her lips. Brian? She had to reread the text again. She had barely spoken to him last night. She hadn’t given him her number. There was no way he would have gotten it from Joanna, she thought.She decided not to respond. And then it occurred to her: Did Brian suspect that she had done something to his car? Was this his way of telling her that he knew?
She remembered then that Brian was a Fitzgerald, that he was part of the family who Jonathan had told her owned the art gallery. She’d been on island one night, and she’d already jeopardized her entire future. She rubbed her eyes with her palms. She knew that she had to walk a tightrope with Brian. She didn’t want to lead him on, but she couldn’t be rude either. She would respond to him later.
For now, she had to focus on her job. It was time to get breakfast ready for Berty. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day, and she could feel the heated sunshine through her window, even in the early hours. Berty had tennis after breakfast, and then Lindsey was taking him over to the beach club. She was looking forward to that. She could see the club from the Deckers’ living room, just across the outer harbor. The club’s shoreline was dotted with red, white, and blue wooden cabanas that made the beach look like a traveling circus. From what Carol and Georgie had told her about the club, it seemed like Berty would have plenty of things to do there to keep him busy. She might even get to relax a little bit.
Downstairs, she heard voices as she rounded the bend into the kitchen. Carol and Jonathan sat at the island, each sipping a mug of coffee. They both looked up as she walked in, and for a moment, Lindsey thought they seemed surprised to see her, like she had accidentally interrupted some intimate moment. She had started to feel that way a lot in the Deckers’ house, like she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Lindsey,” Jonathan said after a second. “Good morning.” He smiled at her, a wholesome, friendly smile that belonged to a father, a doting husband, someone reliable and loyal. He seemed to be an entirely different person than the one she had seen last night. Had he mentioned to Carol that he’d seen her come in? she wondered. For a moment, she considered whether she had been drunker than she’d thought. Maybe she had exaggerated the interaction in her mind as being something more menacing than it actually had been.
“Good morning.” She fidgeted, wishing that she’d worn real clothes over her suit instead of a somewhat translucent cover-up.
“Sleep okay?” he asked. Carol still hadn’t said anything.
“Yes, great.” She felt her voice raise up an octave, sounding too enthusiastic, too eager. “Everything is great.” She felt her stomach rumble.
“Good, good,” Jonathan said, rising. “I’ve got to do a little bit of work, and then I’ve got tennis at ten.”
“What time did we all decide to meet for lunch? Two?” Carol asked him, seeming to ignore Lindsey.
“Yes, two.” Jonathan gave her a kiss on the forehead, quick but gentle; then he turned and left the kitchen.
Lindsey was left alone with Carol, and despite her terrible encounter with Jonathan the night before, she somehow still felt more awkward with Carol. She smiled and exhaled. “Beautiful day, huh?”
Carol nodded. “It is a beautiful day, yes.” She shut her laptop. “Berty is outside, as you can see,” she said. Lindsey looked out onto the lawn. Berty was playing with what looked like a doll. “Georgie is already at work. But she’ll meet us all at the club later for lunch.”
“Great. Sounds good.”
Carol went over some of the logistics with Lindsey again—directions to the tennis club, their account number at the beach club, what kind of sunscreen to use on Berty’s sensitive skin—though Lindsey could tell it bothered Carol to do so. Her words were curt and quick, and she seemed distracted.
“I’ve already registered your name with the beach club. All you have to do is sign in when you get there. You can just put whatever you want on our tab. But Berty only gets one ice cream or treat a day.” Carol stood and carried her coffee mug to the sink. “See you around two, then,” she said and went upstairs. Lindsey felt as though Carol had given her a once-over with her eyes before leaving the room, and she wasn’t sure if her expression implied that she approved of her outfit or not.
She called Berty inside for breakfast and made him a bowl of yogurt with granola and honey. He stirred it repeatedly but didn’t seem interested in eating. After a few bites, he pushed the bowl away.
“I hate tennis,” he whined.
“Well, think about it this way,” Lindsey said, leaning on the counter so that she was level with him. “If you go to tennis this morning, then we can have the entire rest of the day to play at the beach. Doesn’t that sound awesome?”
“I guess so,” he whispered. “Okay.”
The walk to the tennis club was only a few minutes. It was part of the yacht club, which was located on the harbor, Carol had told Lindsey, but there was a separate area just for tennis. Berty was in a tennis clinic with other kids his age. When they got to the club, he ran to his group immediately. They were gathered on one of the courts in back. There was a middle-aged instructor on one side of the net with a basket of balls. The kids lined up on the other side; they knew what to do.
Next to the court was a shaded area with some chairs and a watercooler. Five other nannies were already sitting there. One had a magazine open. They glanced up at Lindsey when she arrived, assessing her, the new girl. Some smiled; others didn’t. Lindsey sat. She knew that none of them was the mother of any of these kids; it wasn’t just that they were slightly too young to be mothers; it was that they looked different from the actual mothers. They weren’t as polished; they all seemed a little bit exhausted. It was clear that they weren’t there to socialize. They were working. They were outsiders. And she was one of them, a fact that she hated.
Looking around at the other women, she noticed that some of them wore outfits that seemed to be emulations of what Carol and other women in Edgartown wore—the flat, Navajo-style leather sandals, seersucker striped skirts, simple shift dresses—yet something about these girls seemed inauthentic to Lindsey, like they were trying too hard. She gazed down at her own clothing, at the silver Tiffany’s charm bracelet that her parents had given her for her sixteenth birthday, and she knew that it was actually her own insecurity, her own feelings of inauthenticity, that bothered her, not theirs. She remembered how out of place she had felt her first week at Bowdoin.
She looked at the text from Brian again, deciding to respond. She started typing something and then deleted it. You too, she finally wrote, hitting “Send” and putting her phone away, deciding that Brian was probably just being friendly.
The club was just up the road on the Chappy side. Members Only read a sign on a white picket fence in front of the entrance. Berty swung the gate door open and barreled in. Lindsey stopped at the reception desk briefly. A young girl in a red swimsuit was manning the desk.
“Hi,” Lindsey said, keeping an eye on Berty, who had gone ahead but was now waiting and looking back at her, annoyed. “I’m with the Decker family; I think Mrs. Decker called in. I’m Lindsey?”
“You’re all set,” the girl said knowingly.
Lindsey followed Berty forward, where the club opened up to a sweeping private beach. It was paradise. There was a long dock, at the end of which was a waterslide and a diving board. “Wow,” Lindsey said to no one. The air smelled of burgers and saltwater, and there was an army of tan teenage lifeguards in red bathing suits parading around the club.
“Come on,” Berty said, tugging her. “I need to get changed.”
In the women’s bathroom, she got Berty changed into his swim trunks. “Let’s go,” he demanded impatiently once they were on. She made him wait another minute while she slathered him in sunblock.
Lindsey found a free spot on the beach, and she put her things down and then took off her cover-up. She was glad that she had worn her one-piece. Everyone at the club—parents, nannies, and kids—were all walking around in their bathing suits, but it was somehow still entirely conservative. Thank God, Lindsey thought to herself, imagining the reactions she would have gotten if she’d worn a string bikini.
Berty liked to go off the waterslide at the end of the dock again and again. A couple of his friends from tennis were there, too, and they all took turns going off the slide, climbing up the ladder, and then waiting for their next turn. A bored lifeguard blew his whistle when one of the kids started to get on the slide before the previous kid had swum out of the way.
After a while, Berty was thirsty, so Lindsey took him to the snack bar. He wanted a lemonade. She got herself an iced tea. Decker was all she had to say. She wondered what the final bill was at the end of every summer. There were no prices on the menu. None of that seemed to matter to anyone there.
She and Berty went to their spot on the beach and sipped their drinks. When he was finished, he went and sat on the shoreline and started building a sandcastle. The club really was the perfect setup, Lindsey thought to herself. She could relax and suntan while Berty was just a few feet away, playing. Lindsey sank into her elbows and let the sun blanket her skin. She could get used to this, if this was what her summer was going to look like.
“Boo!” she heard, and she felt someone’s cold fingers on her shoulders. She turned. It was Joanna. She was wearing a Shoshanna bikini with a pink gingham pattern and structured cups. Lindsey had seen it just yesterday in the store window of Nell. Joanna practically threw herself down onto the beach, stretching out on one of the towels that Lindsey had laid out, and released a dramatic sigh. Lindsey noticed that she was also wearing the exact Ray-Ban aviator glasses that she had wanted for herself. Now she couldn’t get them.
“God, what a night, huh?” Joanna said.
“Yeah,” Lindsey responded. It had been a night, though she wasn’t sure which part had unnerved her the most: keying Brian’s car, meeting Dylan, or the weird conversation with Jonathan. It had all become a surreal blur. “I’m kind of in shock about what”—she paused—“about what we did last night. To Brian’s car.” She wondered if Joanna knew that Brian had texted her. She opened her mouth to tell her but stayed silent. How would she explain it?
Joanna flipped over onto her belly, propping herself on her forearms.
“Don’t worry,” she said, swatting at Lindsey’s thigh. “It’s fine. In fact,” she whispered, pushing her glasses down on her nose and peering out over them, looking around, “nobody will ever know that it was us. Brian totally thinks it was someone else.” She smiled and raised her eyebrows.
Lindsey was relieved. She didn’t like how Joanna had said us. She knew that she had participated in it, but Joanna was the one who’d really done it, in her mind. She just went along with it. Didn’t that make her more innocent? she thought to herself.
“Well, that’s good, I guess,” she mumbled. “Who does he think did it?”
“Some townie guy,” Joanna said, shifting her hips to get more comfortable on the towel. “There’s this guy who has a rivalry with Brian. Something that happened in the fishing derby a few years ago. I don’t know; it’s so stupid. But I guess Whitney saw the guy driving by the party last night on his way back from the beach, so obviously now everyone thinks that guy did it. Makes total sense.” Lindsey’s stomach tightened. Dylan, she thought to herself. As if Joanna knew that Lindsey felt guilty, she continued. “I mean, the townie guy would have done it anyway. I mean, probably.” She paused. “Like, they’re enemies. But whatever, who cares? The point is, Brian got what he deserved, and no one knows that it was us.”
“Joanna,” Lindsey said with caution. “That guy . . .” She paused. She wasn’t sure how much she wanted to tell Joanna. She could sense already that she’d be judged if she revealed that Dylan had asked for her number and she was excited about it. “He gave me a ride home last night. My bike broke, and he saw me and drove me home. He seems really . . . nice.”
Joanna rolled her eyes. “Lindsey!” She pushed her sunglasses down. “You like this guy. It’s so obvious!”
“I don’t even know him . . .” But Lindsey could feel herself smiling. “He does seem like a good guy, though.” She looked around. “You don’t think Brian’s going to, like, retaliate, do you? I mean, Dylan had nothing to do with it.”
Joanna didn’t respond for a few seconds. “Listen,” she said, “Brian and this guy—Dylan, right?” Lindsey nodded. “They already had a beef together. It’s not like we created this. They already had it out for one another. This is just one more thing added to the list. It doesn’t even matter.” Lindsey didn’t agree with that logic. It wasn’t right. Dylan was innocent. They were the guilty ones. How could Joanna just be okay with the fact that they were blaming someone else? “What’s done is done,” Joanna added.
Lindsey’s only hope was that the whole thing might just go away. Maybe Brian wouldn’t even care that much; maybe he’d just forget about it. Though she knew that wasn’t going to happen. Her stomach churned.
“So has Mr. Decker flirted with you yet or what?” Joanna asked with a laugh, changing the subject. “I told you, didn’t I? He’s a little creepy, right?”
“I mean . . .” Lindsey chose her words carefully. She wanted to confide in Joanna, but she also didn’t want to talk badly about her boss, especially when he knew Joanna’s parents. “He does seem a little weird. I saw him last night when I got home. It was just . . . strange.”
“Ew,” Joanna huffed. “I mean, Mr. Decker is kind of hot, but he’s, like, a hard fifty.”
Lindsey shook her head and shrugged.
“Well, whatever. Next week is Brian’s family’s big party,” Joanna said. “It’s going to be so fun.”
“Cool” was all Lindsey could respond. She was too distracted.
Joanna left an hour later. “I’m going home to my pool,” she said, waving the sand off her towel. “It’s so boring here now. All my girlfriends are gone this year. They’re off in the real world, I guess.”
Lindsey smiled, wondering if she should be somewhat offended.
“But thank God you’re here,” Joanna added.
Lindsey watched her as she left the club, her wet hair clinging to her back.
A few hours later, Carol and Jonathan showed up for lunch.
“We’ll get a table,” Carol said. She and Jonathan turned back toward the snack bar. Berty ran behind them. Lindsey tried to towel off as best she could and then threw on her cover-up. Immediately, big wet spots formed around her breasts. She pressed the cover-up over the rest of her stomach, trying to get the whole thing wet so that the spots would blend in.
Jonathan and Carol had put some of their things on a table and were standing in line to order. There was nothing healthy—a cheeseburger, BLT, grilled cheese, chicken salad sandwich. Lindsey wanted to order after Carol. She was curious what she was going to get.
“Hi,” Carol said to the young girl at the counter. “Decker, 7625. Can we please have a cheeseburger, medium, a grilled cheese with tomato, and a garden salad with grilled chicken? Please put the dressing on the side. Jonathan?”
“A BLT, please. Thanks.” It was Lindsey’s turn. She had heard Carol order but didn’t know what was for her or the kids.
“I’ll have the turkey wrap, please. Thank you.” She didn’t really want that. She didn’t want anything. She wasn’t hungry all of a sudden. It felt too uncomfortable to eat lunch with them in the first place. They ordered a few iced teas and went to sit down.
“Georgie should be here soon,” Carol said at the table. “Or at least that’s what she told me.”
Berty told Jonathan that he’d been off the slide a hundred times that morning. Lindsey was grateful that Berty talked so much. She didn’t have anything to say.
A few minutes later, Georgie arrived. She was wearing her work clothes—jean cutoff shorts and a Picnic Basket shirt. She dumped her bag on the ground and sat down, looking around her as if she was trying to avoid someone or trying to find someone.
“Are you going to change?” Carol asked her before saying anything else. “Did you bring a suit?”
“Of course I brought a suit,” Georgie said, annoyed. “I’ll go change now.” Lindsey shifted in her seat. She didn’t see what was wrong with Georgie’s outfit or why she needed her swimsuit on to eat lunch. It was as if Carol was ashamed of her in those clothes. Work clothes.
Georgie emerged from the bathroom in a white eyelet print dress. Lindsey couldn’t tell what kind of bathing suit she had on underneath, but she had transformed from a normal teenager into a younger version of Carol—elegant, well groomed, and sophisticated. It didn’t seem like her.
“So how was work today?” Jonathan asked.
“Good,” Georgie responded, sipping an iced tea. “I saw Brian Fitzgerald.”
Lindsey nearly choked. Did Georgie know something about what she’d done last night? Did she know that Brian had texted her? Had Georgie given Brian her number?
“How is he doing these days? I just saw his father at the club last week. Said Brian was working on some start-up idea. He always was a smart kid.”
“Yeah” was all Georgie said. “He’s really smart.” Over the loudspeaker, their name was called, and Jonathan got up to go get their lunch. He came back with the food on two shiny red trays. Berty dove toward the grilled cheese.
“I took the liberty of ordering you a salad, Gigi,” Carol said.
“Thanks.” Georgie was pissed, that was obvious, but she didn’t say anything else. Lindsey watched Carol dissect her cheeseburger. She ate the patty with a fork, ignoring the bun.
The rest of lunch went by quickly, and Carol and Jonathan left when they were finished. They gave Georgie and Berty pecks on the head and then walked out. Lindsey sensed a common feeling of relief between her and the kids when they were gone.
“We got a pretty great spot down the beach,” she said to Georgie as they cleared the table.
“Cool. It’s still pretty hot out. I need to get a tan.”
Berty returned to his sandcastle on the shore. Georgie rolled out her towel next to Lindsey’s and then took off her white dress. She was wearing a string bikini underneath, to Lindsey’s surprise. Georgie looked around again, and this time, her eyes lingered on a group of girls down the beach. She dropped to her towel, lying on her stomach, and turned her head the other way.
“Cute suit,” Lindsey said to her.
“Thanks.” Georgie didn’t lift her head. It was clear she didn’t want to talk. Lindsey watched Berty for a few minutes, not saying anything.
Georgie released a sigh and flipped over, leaning back on her elbows. She turned her head toward the group of girls down the beach, her gaze settling on them. Maybe those girls had been Georgie’s friends, and something had happened, Lindsey thought. Georgie hadn’t mentioned any friends since Lindsey arrived.
“Everything okay?” Lindsey finally asked.
“Yeah, it’s fine,” Georgie said, turning to stare straight ahead at the water. “There’s just, well, there’s this guy.”
Lindsey was surprised; she had assumed that Georgie was having issues with friends, not with guys. “Oh,” she said, “guy stuff. What’s going on?”
Georgie turned toward Lindsey so that she was on her side, as though to welcome the conversation and to keep it contained between the two of them.
“I mean,” she whispered, “he’s too old for me. I guess. Maybe not in a few years. I don’t know. I just really like him.”
“Well, how old is he?” Lindsey asked. She was thinking about how Georgie had mentioned Brian at lunch.
“I think he’s, like, twenty-four?” she said. “Basically your age, I guess,” she added.
Before Lindsey could even respond and tell her that twenty-four was too old for her, that she should find a nice guy her own age, Georgie interjected.
“He was flirting with me,” she said defensively. “Anyway, it’s dumb,” she continued. “He used to teach me sailing when I was younger, and I think I’ve always liked him.”
So maybe it wasn’t Brian, Lindsey thought to herself, remembering that Joanna had said something about Brian being on Wall Street. Must be some local kid, she thought.
“I understand,” she said, “but I think you’re right. He’s probably a little bit too old. At least for now. But you never know where life will take you. Maybe in a few years, when you’re older, when you’re eighteen, you’ll be in similar places in life.” Lindsey didn’t really mean it; she was lying to Georgie, somewhat, but it felt like a kind lie and the right thing to do.
Georgie nodded. “You’re right,” she said. “Maybe it’s just not the right time.”
“Exactly.” Lindsey couldn’t believe how fast Georgie had come around.
“I mean,” Georgie continued, “I’ve known Brian my whole life, basically, since I was a kid. Our parents are friends. I’m sure I’ll still know him in a few years. Maybe later on it will be the right time.”
Lindsey’s ears pricked at the sound of Brian’s name. What was it about this guy that everyone was so drawn to? He was charming, sure, and cute, in a way, but he seemed ordinary to her and somewhat arrogant. She didn’t understand the magnetic pull he seemed to have on women.
“Well,” she said, trying to figure out what to tell Georgie. She knew that there was nothing anyone could tell a teenage girl to convince her that a guy wasn’t right for her. Georgie had a crush, and there was no going back. But she had to try. “Sometimes you think a guy is right for you, and he ends up being wrong for you.” She started rambling then, telling Georgie about her own high school crush that had ended in heartbreak. Georgie nodded but didn’t say anything. She took out a copy of Glamour from her bag and started reading.
In front of them on the beach, Berty knocked his sandcastle down with his feet, running through it with a slight scream. Lindsey looked at her cell phone but had no new messages. The phone itself felt like a duplicitous piece of evidence that she needed to bury deep down in her bag, like a forbidden weapon. She hadn’t meant to, but already she had basically lied to Joanna, Georgie, and, in a way, to Dylan, and all the lies were somehow connected to Brian. She hadn’t asked Brian to reach out to her, but he had. And now, not telling Joanna and Georgie that information somehow felt like she was actively lying to both of them. She hated the feeling of carrying secrets that she’d never wanted in the first place. She wished that she could extricate herself from the web she’d crawled into last night. But it was too late.
“Excerpted from SOMEONE ELSE’S SECRET by Julia Spiro. Copyright © 2020 by Julia Spiro. Published and reprinted by permission of Lake Union Publishing. All rights reserved.”
Oh, hi. Didn’t see you there. It’s me, your friendly Betches Vanderpump Rules recapper and occasional book reviewer, here to talk about what I’ve been reading. Now, truthfully, I’ve been reading a lot less since quarantine started, since I’m one of those psychos who gets all her reading in during her daily subway commute. Now that I have to actually make time to sit down and read a book, I usually end up accidentally watching true crime documentaries instead. Oops!
Anyway, I’ve heard that reading is making a comeback—only took a little pandemic to get people to read things other than their phone screens. So in the spirit of books being a thing again, and also us not really having a summer so I don’t want this to be my summer reading list, here are the best books that came out during quarantine that you should read while in quarantine.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen (March 3, 2020)
This is a thriller, but it’s not a typical thriller. It is a cool thriller, but really, I would describe it more as a writer’s thriller. The focus is more on the striking prose and crafting vivid scenes than about having a fast-paced, action-packed read. Picture this: it’s Atlantic City, circa whatever year Atlantic City went to sh*t (I could Google it, but I’m not a historian). Two unlikely women meet and become friends: Clara Voyant, a teenage psychic, and Lily, an aspiring art curator who moves back to her hometown after being chewed up and spit out by the Manhattan art scene. Throughout all this, sex workers are being murdered and dumped in AC, and no one even notices. Told through multiple perspectives, including the “Janes” who are murdered, it’s an extremely compelling read.
BLACK WIDOW: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title by Leslie Gray Streeter (March 10, 2020)
We’re all going through a sort of grief right now, and this “sad-funny journey through grief” just might be what we all need. Leslie Gray Streeter lost her husband to a sudden heart attack, and finds herself slapped with a label she doesn’t want: a widow. She doesn’t want pitying looks or whispered sympathies, she doesn’t want to wear a black dress and a big hat to her husband’s funeral. Black Widow takes readers through the more unexpected aspects of grief, “from coffin shopping to day-drinking, to being a grown-ass woman crying for your mommy, to breaking up and making up with God.”
The Herd by Andrea Bartz (March 24, 2020)
Yes, I know I’ve written about The Herd before, but I’m covering it again because it’s just that good. (But actually, if you remembered that I have covered it before, DM me @sarafcarter because you deserve recognition for your photographic memory of useless facts.) This thriller takes place in a famed all-female coworking space… no, not the one you’re thinking of, this one’s fictional. When the beloved founder is found dead, her best friends have to figure out who killed her, without compromising the future of the coworking space. And if you can’t get enough of Andrea Bartz’s writing, check out her articles for Betches.
A Mother’s Lie by Sarah Zettel (April 7, 2020)
Beth has spent her entire adult life running away from her past, ever since she narrowly saved her daughter from being abducted. But the thing about the past is that it, and the people from it, don’t really like to stay buried. And when those people from Beth’s past include her two grifter parents, whom she never told her daughter about, let’s just say, sh*t goes off the rails. Just a warning if you do buy this book: you may finish it in a day (speaking for myself).
The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (April 7, 2020)
It’s the adult debut from the author of the Divergent series, and if that didn’t sell you right there, I don’t know what to tell you. Okay, I do. An evil force called the Dark One tried to end humanity as we know it, and a group of elite teenagers called the Chosen Ones were called into battle to save the world. (Tbh, would be great if we oculd get a couple of supernatural teens to save us right about now.) Fast-forward 10 years, and the Chosen Ones are trying to resume normal lives—that is, until one of their own winds up dead, and they quickly realize the world still needs saving. Told through narrative and enhanced with magazine articles, government briefs, scholarly papers, and even stand-up comedy routine transcripts, the format is really fun and inventive.
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle (April 7, 2020)
Need something lighthearted? You Deserve Each Other is like Bride Wars meets How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. In it, Naomi Westfield is about to get married to her picture-perfect fiancé, Nicholas Rose. The only problem? She can’t stand him. Oh, and that they have an agreement that whoever calls off the engagement has to foot the entire bill. So when Naomi finds out that Nicholas wants out too, they are forced to go head-to-head in a battle of wits, emotional warfare, and pranks to see who will crack first.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan (April 14, 2020)
Tilly was a bright, carefree little girl, and when her father suddenly disappeared, she and her mom moved into Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel in Brighton. She eventually falls in love with all the other quirky people there, including Queenie. But when Tilly’s mom sends her away to boarding school without warning or explanation, Tilly is betrayed and heartbroken to leave her makeshift family. As a woman, and after her mother’s death, she returns to the Paradise Hotel, determined to find out what really happened to make her leave the hotel, and the type of person her mother really was.
The House Of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland (April 21, 2020)
While most residents of River Bend, Michigan, never imagine leaving, it’s precisely the place three women were desperate to escape. Linda Williams is perpetually dissatisfied. Her mother, Paula, is the opposite—always too sure. Beth DeWitt is one of the town’s only black daughters, now a mother of two. Linda, Paula, and Beth’s paths collide and a scandal forces Beth to deal with her past. If you just binged Little Fires Everywhere, you’ll want to pick up this debut that examines family ties, racial microaggressions, and the power of intergenerational trauma.
Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster (May 5, 2020)
Heddy Winsome is a working class girl from Brooklyn who wants nothing more than to live among the wealthy. She gets a taste of that life in the summer of 1962 when she lands a gig as a nanny for a rich family out on Martha’s Vineyard. But as she falls in love with someone on the island, she’s forced to reckon with the fact that what you see on the outside (glitz, glamour, nice houses, perfectly coiffed hair) isn’t always what’s going on on the inside.
The Paris Hours by Alex George (May 5, 2020)
Sicily, 1912 Paris, 1927, between the two World Wars. While the city teems with artists and creatives, four regular people are searching for what they’ve lost. Camille, Marcel Proust’s maid, who was supposed to burn all his notebooks but hid one for herself. Souren, an Armenian refugee, who performs puppet shows for children. Guillaume, a lovesick artist who’s hounded by debt until Gertrude Stein walks into his studio. And Jean-Paul, a journalist who tells others’ stories so he can avoid telling his own. The Paris Hours is told over the course of one day in 1927, when all four characters’ stories collide.
Images: David Lezcano / Unsplash; Amazon (10)
Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.
If you’ve read one thriller, you start to feel like after a certain point, you’ve read them all. We get it: the main character had amnesia all along. Two sisters switched places. It gets repetitive. So if you are getting a little fatigued of the same old twists, Emily Liebert’s new novel, Perfectly Famous, out June 2, 2020, will be a breath of fresh air, because it’s honestly kind of meta: after famous crime novelist’s Ward DeFleur’s daughter goes missing, the author is in the wind. But one journalist isn’t content with letting Ward remain in obscurity, and she becomes obsessed with finding her. This harrowing tale of one woman’s infatuation and another woman’s fear is full of explosive surprises, perfect for fans of The Night Olivia Fell and Then She Was Gone.
Emily Liebert is the USA Today bestselling author of Pretty Revenge, and Perfectly Famous will be her sixth novel. Perfectly Famous doesn’t come out until June 2, but Betches readers can get an exclusive first look at this gripping novel right now.
Fame is like a flame. A small flourish of light that’s ignited with good intentions and kindled with aggressive aspirations. But as those dreams are stoked, the flame grows fiercer, often too hot to pass your finger through. Fame can spread like a blazing rash, infecting everything and everyone in its path. The flame is inexorable. It can’t be stopped. It won’t be stopped. Until it’s extinguished.
Of course, some notoriety cannot be snuffed out. The force of it is too robust. People covet that fame. They envy it.
Those people become increasingly resentful as their small spark remains just that. No one—they think—deserves to shine forever, to eclipse all the others who are just as worthy of recognition.
Because only one other outcome is possible when a flame refuses to be choked.
It will explode.
CHAPTER 1: WARD
SIX MONTHS AGO
The smooth rhythm of jazz music drifted from the radio as I gazed out the window at the cookie-cutter McMansions with their rambling green lawns, glistening blue swimming pools, and soaring oak trees in a kaleidoscopic of colors. This time of year, the air is crisp but not cold. Children frolick outside until just before bedtime. Doors are left unlocked.
It’s safe here in Connecticut.
Ten minutes passed, as we traveled out of the suburban cocoon and through town, until the car pulled to a stop. I checked my reflection in the makeup compact I’d slipped into my purse at the last minute and allowed myself one final swipe of red lipstick, to match the cover of my new novel, Mysterious Stranger. Then I took a deep breath, trapped the air in my lungs for a few seconds longer than usual, and exhaled before the driver came around to open my door.
“Ready, Ms. DeFleur?” He extended his hand, and I accepted it, grateful for the support.
“Yes,” I spoke softly and stepped onto the glossy pavement, as pellets of rain struck the umbrella he was holding. One foot in front of the other, I reminded myself. I’ve done this before. Twelve times. And I’ll do it again. I hope.
“Here we go.” He hoisted me to standing, and I noticed that a bead of water had tainted my red silk flats like an inkblot in the Rorschach test. I never wear heels. When you’re five foot ten, it’s hard enough to go unnoticed. “I’ll keep you dry.”
“Thank you.” I nodded and raked my fingers through my thick, tumbling waves of auburn hair.
The line was already wrapped around the side of the building, a buzzing procession of anticipation. Instinctively, I looked behind me. As expected, the parking lot was crowded with sedans and SUVs jockeying for an open spot. To see me. Even after so many years, it’s still hard to believe.
Once we were inside, fear rose in my chest. I scanned the troop of men and women, mostly women in dark elastic jeans, stiletto boots, and flowy blouses cut to expose just enough of their assets. The landscape was dizzying. I thought about a quick pivot. I could make it back to the town car before anyone reached me. But I didn’t move.
“Hello, everyone,” I said louder than I’d expected. I sounded confident. Unlike myself. I smiled appreciatively at the light applause.
“Fabulous, you’re here.” My publicist, Gwen, swooped in, placed one hand on the small of my back, and cupped my elbow with the other. “Let’s get you settled. The signing doesn’t officially start for another twenty minutes. We can go over some important items.”
“Okay, sure.” I allowed her to cart me off.
“In here.” She thrust me into a small room with a green tweed couch and a cluttered wooden desk. “Make yourself comfortable. How are you feeling?” She motioned to the couch, dragged the metal desk chair over, and sat down on the edge of it, facing me. Her dark brown eyes were dogged. She’d rimmed them with far too much black eyeliner. And her knee was trembling. Probably from that high-octane coffee-in-a-can she drinks all day.
“Good,” I lied.
“Great, I mean. Definitely great,” I qualified.
“That’s better. Because tonight has to go seamlessly.” She maintained eye contact. “This is the first appearance in your fifteen-city tour.”
“I know.” Between my agent, my publisher, my editor, my editor’s assistant, Gwen, Gwen’s assistant, and all the other people at Lyons & Wilder responsible for launching my books, I’ve heard fifteen-city tour more times than my brain can metabolize.
“What I’m saying is that tonight sets the tone.” She leaned in closer and searched my face for mutual understanding. “There can’t be any . . .” She paused, careful to select the least offensive word. “Issues.”
“I get it.” It wasn’t hard to decipher what she meant by issues. I chose not to mention that it felt like the walls were closing in on us or that I was sweating through my blouse. “Don’t worry, it’s not my first rodeo.”
“Exactly. So here’s the plan.” Gwen lifted her chin and checked her watch. “I’m going to head out there now and make sure everything is under control and that everyone’s ready to roll. You’re going to stay here, have some water, have some fruit.” She signaled to a platter of neatly arranged slices of pineapple, mango, and cantaloupe, and a few bottles of Evian on the desk. “Then I’m going to come back and get you, and we’ll go in together. As always, there’s a table set up for you to sign at. There are plenty of Sharpies. We’re doing red for this book, as discussed. And clearly your fans are here in droves.”
“They never disappoint.” I smiled, pleased by my readers’ unwavering support.
Anxiety aside, I do realize what a gift that is. There are plenty of authors who write well-received novels, one-hit wonders that skyrocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and sell millions of copies. Unfortunately, their sophomore efforts frequently pale in comparison. There are other authors who write five, ten, fifteen books that all do adequately enough to turn a profit and keep their contracts coming. And then there are authors like me, whose audience has doubled, tripled, quadrupled with each new release. Thankfully, so have my advances. But above all that, I feel truly fortunate because my readers are the best readers. They communicate with me, and I communicate with them, from the very safe haven of my home office. Unseen. For that reason, among many others defined by my publishing house, I feel it’s my duty to show up for them. In this case, fifteen times over.
“And they never will disappoint,” Gwen assured me. “Just keep on being you. That’s all you have to do. They love you. Happy, authentic, engaged you.”
“Thank you.” I’ve worked with a lot of “Gwens” over the years, some grittier than others. This Gwen is a straight shooter, which I like. We both know that her little pep talk was a warning not to screw things up tonight. “I’ve got this.”
“Excellent.” I thought she was going to exhale, possibly reveal a hint of relief that her star thoroughbred was ready to race. But she’s still terrified I’ll break a leg.
She can’t be blamed for that. It has happened before, so to speak. It’s lore among the young girls who’ve passed through the halls of Lyons & Wilder. I’ve seen the way they size me up. They think I’m fragile.
Ward DeFleur sat on a wall.
Ward DeFleur had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men.
Couldn’t put Ward together again.
Not on Gwen’s watch, though. I guarantee she’s got an Ace bandage and a tube of Krazy Glue in her purse. She’ll repair me if it’s the last thing she ever does.
“Sit tight. I won’t be gone long.” She stood up and clipped her walkie-talkie to her belt.
“One question.” I raised my index finger.
“Shoot.” Gwen barely looked up from her cell phone. She was already sending a text, probably to my agent, Stephanie, who couldn’t be here tonight because her sister is getting married. Apparently, she asked her sister to switch the date and was horrified that she wouldn’t. In turn, I was horrified that Stephanie even asked in the first place.
“Is there security?”
“There are guards at all three doors. We’re in constant contact.”
“Just in case,” I added, so as not to seem dramatic.
“Ward,” Gwen said with intention. “You’re completely covered. Absolutely nothing will go wrong.” We locked eyes. “This is your night. Enjoy it.” She walked toward the door, turned the knob, and paused. Then she glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “Lucky number thirteen.”
“Lucky number thirteen.”
Copyright © 2020 by Emily Liebert. From the forthcoming book PERFECTLY FAMOUS to be published by Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.
The obsession with Little Fires Everywhere started in 2017 with the release of the novel by Celeste Ng—a book that just about every book club had at the top of their reading list. Filled with drama, strong leading ladies and small-town suburban drama, it was no surprise that it quickly became one of the biggest books of the decade. Now, the queens Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are bringing it to life with their new Hulu series based on the book. If you can’t get enough of this enticing storyline, and need something to read while you’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future, you’ll live for these 10 unforgettable novels.
1. The New Husband by D.J. Palmer
Out April 14, 2020
Picture this: your husband goes missing on a fishing trip, is presumed dead, and then you find out he was having an affair. Tragic. For the main character in The New Husband, Nina Garrity, this is her reality and she’s doing her best to move on a year and a half after the strange disappearance that left her a widow. Trying to move on with a new man, Simon Fitch, everything seems like smooth sailing. But when her daughter raises concerns about him, Nina begins an investigation into Simon that will send her reeling—we’re talking Dirty John level secrets.
2. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Grey
Released January 14, 2020
No matter how close sisters Althea, Violet and Lillian are, they never imagined that one of them would be arrested and put on trial for stealing money from a charity (who does that?!). Now left to care for Althea’s twin daughters and wrestling with the idea that the woman who raised them is a criminal, the family begins to fall apart, member by member. With plenty of family drama, a fire, and difficult mother-daughter relationships, this book gives us serious Little Fires Everywhere vibes.
3. The Opposite of Fate by Alison McGhee
Released February 18, 2020
Mallie Williams was feeling on top of the world until a terrible assault left her in a coma. The worst part? Her attacker got her pregnant. By the time she regains her strength and comes out of the coma, her family will have made a decision that will change her life forever. Filled with hopeful messages about life and the decisions that alter the way we look at the world, Mallie Williams proves to be the ultimate badass in Alison McGhee’s latest novel The Opposite of Fate.
4. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Released December 31, 2019
Alix Chamberlain is a certified boss, living a life full of success and confidence (So… can we all be Alix?). Living a predominantly great life, she’s completely caught off guard when her babysitter, a young black woman named Emira, is accused of kidnapping her child at their high-end grocery store. When a video is released of the horrific incident, Alix knows she has to do something to make the situation right. But the video brings someone from Alix’s past back into her life, forcing all of her plans out the window and putting her completely out of control for the first time in a long time.
5. Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Out April 7, 2020
When college professor Elizabeth innocently poses for nude photos, the only thought in her mind is how these photos will bring her one step closer to her hero Georgia O’Keeffe. Instead, the seriously creepy photographer who took the photos exploits Elizabeth, publishing them for the world to see. Unable to persuade him to take the photos down, Elizabeth does her best to embrace the situation and help others understand why she did it in the first place. If you’re trying to get in touch with your inner feminist spirit this spring, you’ll love Elizabeth and Queen of the Owls.
6. The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
Released July 2, 2019
Said to be the book “that predicted the college-admissions scandal,” (The Wall Street Journal) you better believe The Gifted School is full of juicy private school drama. Four families have known each other for over a decade, raising their children together and happily living side-by-side in their quaint community. But then an exclusive new school for gifted children opens up and suddenly, the parents of these four families turn against one another, doing whatever it takes to get their children into the most prestigious school in town—and setting a horrible example for their kids in the process.
7. Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
Out April 21, 2020
College sweethearts Marin and Derek were living the dream before their son Sebastian was taken. Over a year later, the police no longer have any leads in the case, leaving Marin to hire a private investigator to continue digging. But unfortunately for Marin the plan backfires as the PI learns Derek is having an affair with a woman… a much younger woman. Like any reasonable woman who’s been betrayed, Marin begins to contemplate what it would take to break them up for good and it isn’t long before she begins to explore ways of getting her out of Derek’s life permanently. Yikes!
8. Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West
Released February 4, 2020
Isobel Johnson has never claimed to be a perfect teacher and tries her best to fly under the radar, avoiding the sometimes-crazy class parents. But all of that hits the fan when she introduces a fairly liberal lesson to her class and she begins getting threatening calls from her students’ parents. Simultaneously, helicopter mom Julia has just been trashed by her fellow moms for making an error while casting the school’s winter musical. Banding together, Isobel and Julia quickly find out just how toxic privileged schools like Liston Heights High can really be.
9. A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe
Out April 7, 2020
Ever wonder what Little Fires Everywhere would look like as a historical fiction novel? We’ve got you covered! Moving to Vietnam with her husband in 1933, American Jessie Lesage has absolutely no idea what to expect. With scandal surrounding her husband and his connection to the Michelin rubber fortune, she knows she needs to keep up the visage of the perfect wife. Determined to make a real life for herself in Vietnam, she befriends local woman Marcelle de Fabry. What Jessie doesn’t know is that Marcelle is in support of giving the Michelin plantations back to their rightful owners, a secret that will severely threaten Jessie, her husband, and their success.
10. A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
Released March 10,2020
Good neighbors can be hard to come by, and no one knows this better than single mother Valerie Alston-Holt in A Good Neighborhood. A professor of forestry and ecology, Valerie has everything she could ever want: a bright son headed to college soon, a tight-knit community, and a beautiful home. Things are obviously too good to be true for Valerie (or else this wouldn’t be a novel) and soon, the Whitman family moves in next door and immediately starts to disrupt her life. First, the family completely demolishes the house they bought, building a monstrosity, then they find themselves arguing over a historic tree in Valerie’s yard. But worst of all, Valerie’s son has fallen for the Whitman’s daughter, causing all Hell to break loose. If you think you have bad neighbors, this book will reassure you of how good you have it!
Images: Courtesy of Hulu; Amazon (10)
Maybe you watched The Stranger or The Five on Netflix, or saw the movie Tell No One. Or maybe you just read one of his many New York Times bestselling books, like Run Away, Fool Me Once, Don’t Let Go, or the renowned Myron Bolitar series. Either way, if you’re into thrillers, you’ve definitely heard of Harlan Coben, and you’ve probably been waiting on the edge of your seat for the release of his newest book (which will be his 32nd), The Boy From The Woods, out March 17.
Wilde is a man who is a mystery to everyone, including himself, having been found 30 years ago living as a feral boy in the woods with no memory of who he was or how he got there. Fast-forward three decades: A local girl goes missing in those same woods, and Wilde is tapped to help find her. He works with Hester Crimstein, a famous TV lawyer (with big Nancy Grace energy) with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection. Along the way, they’ll go head-to-head with corrupt politicians (never heard of ’em), powerful media moguls, long-lost relatives, and so much more. The Boy From The Woods comes out March 17th, but if you just can’t wait to get a sneak peek of the book, we have the second chapter right here. So check it out, get hooked, then preorder The Boy From The Woods.
The hipster pundit said, “This guy should be in prison, no questions asked.”
On live television, Hester Crimstein was about to counterpunch when she spotted what looked like her grandson in her peripheral vision. It was hard to see through the studio lights, but it sure as hell looked like Matthew.
“Whoa, strong words,” said the show’s host, a once-cute prepster whose main debate technique was to freeze a baffled expression on his face, as though his guests were idiots no matter how much sense they made. “Any response, Hester?”
Matthew’s appearance—it had to be him—had thrown her.
Not a good time to let the mind wander, she reminded herself. Focus.
“You’re gross,” Hester said.
“You heard me.” She aimed her notorious withering gaze at Hipster Pundit. “Gross.”
Why is Matthew here?
Her grandson had never come to her work unannounced before—not to her office, not to a courtroom, and not to the studio.
“Care to elaborate?” Prepster Host asked.
“Sure,” Hester said. The fiery glare stayed on Hipster Pundit. “You hate America.”
“Seriously,” Hester continued, throwing her hands up in the air, “why should we have a court system at all? Who needs it? We have public opinion, don’t we? No trial, no jury, no judge—let the Twitter mob decide.”
Hipster Pundit sat up a little straighter. “That’s not what I said.”
“It’s exactly what you said.”
“There’s evidence, Hester. A very clear video.”
“Ooo, a video.” She wiggled her fingers as though she were talking about a ghost. “So again: No need for a judge or jury. Let’s just have you, as benevolent leader of the Twitter mob—”
“Hush, I’m talking. Oh, I’m sorry, I forget your name. I keep calling you Hipster Pundit in my head, so can I just call you Chad?” He opened his mouth, but Hester pushed on. “Great. Tell me, Chad, what’s a fitting punishmentfor my client, do you think? I mean, since you’re going to pronounce guilt or innocence, why not also do the sentencing for us?”
“My name”—he pushed his hipster glasses up his nose—“is Rick. And we all saw the video. Your client punched a man in the face.”
“Thanks for that analysis. You know what would be helpful, Chad?”
“Rick, Chad, whatever. What would be helpful, super helpful really, would be if you and your mob just made all the decisions for us. Think of the time we’d save. We just post a video on social media and declare guilt or innocence from the replies. Thumbs-up or thumbs-down. There’d be no need for witnesses or testimony or evidence. Just Judge Rick Chad here.”
Hipster Pundit’s face was turning red. “We all saw what your rich client did to that poor man.”
Prepster Host stepped in: “Before we continue, let’s show the video again for those just tuning in.”
Hester was about to protest, but they’d already shown the video countless times, would show it countless more times, and her voicing any opposition would be both ineffective and only make her client, a well-to-do financial consultant named Simon Greene, appear even more guilty.
More important, Hester could use the few seconds with the camera off her to check on Matthew.
The viral video—four million views and counting—had been recorded on a tourist’s iPhone in Central Park. On the screen, Hester’s client Simon Greene, wearing a perfectly tailored suit with a perfectly Windsored Hermès tie, cocked his fist and smashed it into the face of a threadbare, disheveled young man who, Hester knew, was a drug addict named Aaron Corval.
Blood gushed from Corval’s nose.
The image was irresistibly Dickensian—Mr. Rich Privileged Guy, completely unprovoked, sucker-punches Poor Street Urchin.
Hester quickly craned her neck toward Matthew and tried, through the haze of the studio spotlights, to meet his eye. She was a frequent legal expert on cable news, and two nights a week, “famed defense attorney” Hester Crimstein had her own segment on this very network called Crimstein on Crime, though her name was not pronounced Crime-Rhymes-with-Prime-Stine, but rather Krim-Rhymes-with-Prim-Steen, but the alliteration was still considered “television friendly” and the title looked good on the bottom scroll, so the network ran with it.
Her grandson stood in the shadows. Hester could see that Matthew was wringing his hands, just like his father used to do, and she felt a pang so deep in her chest that for a moment she couldn’t breathe. She considered quickly crossing the room and asking Matthew why he was here, but the punch video was already over and Hipster Rick Chad was foaming at the mouth.
“See?” Spittle flew out of his mouth and found a home in his beard. “It’s clear as day. Your rich client attacked a homeless man for no reason.”
“You don’t know what went on before that tape rolled.”
“It makes no difference.”
“Sure it does. That’s why we have a system of justice, so that vigilantes like you don’t irresponsibly call for mob violence against an innocent man.”
“Whoa, no one said anything about mob violence.”
“Sure you did. Own it already. You want my client, a father of three with no record, in prison right now. No trial, nothing. Come on, Rick Chad, let your inner fascist out.” Hester banged the desk, startling Prepster Host, and began to chant: “Lock him up, lock him up.”
“Cut that out!”
“Lock him up!”
The chant was getting to him, his face turning scarlet. “That’s not what I meant at all. You’re intentionally exaggerating.”
“Lock him up!”
“Stop that. No one is saying that.”
Hester had something of a gift for mimicry. She often used it in the courtroom to subtly if not immaturely undermine a prosecutor. Doing her best impression of Rick Chad, she repeated his earlier words verbatim: “This guy should be in prison, no questions asked.”
“That will be up to a court of law,” Hipster Rick Chad said, “but maybe if a man acts like this, if he punches people in the face in broad daylight, he deserves to be canceled and lose his job.”
“Why? Because you and Deplorable-Dental-Hygienist and NailDa-Ladies-69 on Twitter say so? You don’t know the situation. You don’t even know if the tape is real.”
Prepster Host arched an eyebrow over that one. “Are you saying the video is fake?”
“Could be, sure. Look, I had another client. Someone photoshopped her smiling face next to a dead giraffe and said she was the hunter who killed it. An ex-husband did that for revenge. Can you imagine the hate and bullying she received?”
The story wasn’t true—Hester had made it up—but it could be true, and sometimes that was enough.
“Where is your client Simon Greene right now?” Hipster Rick Chad asked.
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“He’s home, right? Out on bail?”
“He’s an innocent man, a fine man, a caring man—”
“And a rich man.”
“Now you want to get rid of our bail system?”
“A rich white man.”
“Listen, Rick Chad, I know you’re all ‘woke’ and stuff, what with the cool beard and the hipster beanie—is that a Kangol?— but your use of race and your easy answers are as bad as the other side’s use of race and easy answers.”
“Wow, deflecting using ‘both sides.’ ”
“No, sonny, that’s not both sides, so listen up. What you don’t see is, you and those you hate? You are quickly becoming one and the same.”
“Reverse this around,” Rick Chad said. “If Simon Greene was poor and black and Aaron Corval was rich and white—”
“They’re both white. Don’t make this about race.”
“It’s always about race, but fine. If the guy in rags hit the rich white man in a suit, he wouldn’t have Hester Crimstein defending him. He’d be in jail right now.”
Hmm, Hester thought. She had to admit Rick Chad had a pretty good point there.
Prepster Host said, “Hester?”
Time was running out in the segment, so Hester threw up her hands and said, “If Rick Chad is arguing I’m a great attorney, who am I to disagree?”
That drew laughs.
“And that’s all the time we have for now. Coming up next, the latest controversy surrounding upstart presidential candidate Rusty Eggers. Is Rusty pragmatic or cruel? Is he really the most dangerous man in America? Stay with us.”
Hester pulled out the earpiece and unclipped the microphone. They were already headed to commercial break when she rose and crossed the room toward Matthew. He was so tall now, again like his father, and another pang struck hard.
Hester said, “Your mother… ?”
“She’s fine,” Matthew said. “Everyone is okay.”
Hester couldn’t help it. She threw her arms around the probably embarrassed teen, wrapping him in a bear hug, though she was barely five two and he had almost a foot on her. More and more she saw the echoes of the father in the son. Matthew hadn’t looked much like David when he was little, when his father was still alive, but now he did—the posture, the walk, the hand wringing, the crinkle of the forehead—and it all broke her heart anew. It shouldn’t, of course. It should, in fact, offer some measure of comfort for Hester, seeing her dead son’s echo in his boy, like some small part of David survived the crash and still lives on. But instead, these ghostly glimmers rip at her, tear the wounds wide open, even after all these years, and Hester wondered whether the pain was worth it, whether it was better to feel this pain than feel nothing. The question was a rhetorical one, of course. She had no choice and would want it no other way—feeling nothing or someday being “over it” would be the worst betrayal of all.
So she held her grandson and squeezed her eyes shut. The teen patted her back, almost as though he were humoring her.
That was what he called her. Nana. “You’re really okay?”
Matthew’s skin was browner than his father’s. His mother, Laila, was black, which made Matthew black too or a person of color or biracial or whatever. Age was no excuse, but Hester, who was in her seventies but told everyone she stopped counting at sixty-nine—go ahead, make a joke, she’d heard them all—found it hard to keep track of the evolving terminology.
“Where’s your mother?” Hester asked.
“What’s the matter?” Hester asked.
“There’s this girl in school,” Matthew said.
“What about her?”
“She’s missing, Nana. I want you to help.”
Excerpted from THE BOY FROM THE WOODS. Copyright © 2020 by Harlan Coben. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
The author of 2019’s My Lovely Wife, Samantha Downing, is back with her second book, He Started It. Her first thriller was hailed as “a dark and irresistible debut” by PEOPLE and “Gone Girl, except better” by yours truly. He Started It follows a family of grifters on the road trip of a lifetime (and I mean that quite literally), out April 28 by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, but you can start reading He Started It right now, exclusively on Betches.
Three siblings. Their spouses. Dear old Grandad’s dead body in the trunk. Such begins He Started It, a fast-paced novel about a dysfunctional family on a road trip—only things are a lot darker and more twisted than your average family vacation. That’s because instead of a feel-good getaway, this family of three grifters, liars, and cheats (plus their spouses) are on a quest to scatter their grandfather’s ashes so they can collect his inheritance. But exactly like on your family road trips, nobody wants to share.
Samantha Downing’s debut novel, My Lovely Wife, earned her a nomination for an Edgar Award—a big f*cking deal in the thriller world. Her follow-up doesn’t come out until April 28, but it’s already generating buzz, and you can read an exclusive look at the first chapter below.
You want a heroine. Someone to root for, to identify with. She can’t be perfect, though, because that’ll just make you feel bad about yourself. A flawed heroine, then. Someone who may break the rules to protect her family but doesn’t kill anyone unless it’s self-defense. Not murder, though, at least not the cold-blooded kind. That’s the first deal breaker.
The second is cheating. Men can get away with that and still be the hero, but a cheating wife is unforgivable.
Which means I can’t be your heroine.
I still have a story to tell.
It begins in a car. Rather, an SUV. We sit according to our rank, the oldest in the driver’s seat. That’s Eddie. His wife sits next to him, but I’ll get to her.
The middle seat is for the middle child, and that’s me. Beth. Not Elizabeth, just Beth. I’m two years younger than Eddie and he never lets me forget it. I’m okay to look at, though not as young or thin as I used to be. My husband sits next to me. Again, later for that, because our spouses weren’t supposed to be here.
One seat left, way in the back, and that’s Portia. The surprise baby. She’s six years younger than me and sometimes it feels like a hundred. With no spouse or significant other, she has the whole seat to herself.
In the very back, our luggage. Stacked side by side in a neat single row because that’s the only way it fits. I told Eddie that the first time. Our handbags and computers bags go on top of the roller bags. You don’t have to be a flight attendant to figure that out.
Under the bags, there’s the trunk compartment. One side has the spare tire. In the other, a locked wooden box with brass fittings. This special little box in this special little place, all by itself with nothing else around, is to hold our grandfather. He’s been cremated.
We aren’t talking about him. We aren’t really talking at all. The sun beams through the windows, landing on my leg and making it burn. The A/C dries out my eyes. Eddie plays music that is wordless and jazzy.
I look back at Portia. Her eyes are closed and she has headphones on, probably listening to music that is neither wordless nor jazzy. Her black hair is long and has fallen over one eye. It’s dyed. We all have pale skin, and we were all born with blond hair and either blue or green eyes. My hair is even lighter now because I highlight it. Eddie’s is darker because he doesn’t. Portia’s hair has been black for a while now. It matches her nails. She’s not goth, though. Not anymore.
The music change is abrupt. I didn’t even see Krista move. That’s Eddie’s wife. Krista, the one with olive skin, dark hair, and brown eyes with gold flecks. Krista, the one he married four months after meeting her. She used to be the receptionist at his office.
I continue to stare out the window. Atlanta is long gone. We aren’t even in Georgia. This is northern Alabama, past Birmingham, where the population is sparse and skeptical. If we were trying to rush, we’d be further along by now. Rushing isn’t part of the equation.
That’s Portia, her voice groggy from her nap. She’s sitting up, headphones off, wide-eyed like a child.
She’s been milking that baby-of-the-family shit for a long time.
“You want to stop?” Eddie says, turning down the music.
“Let’s stop,” Krista says.
My husband shrugs.
“Yes,” Portia says.
Eddie looks at me in the rearview mirror, like I get a say in the matter. I’m already outnumbered.
“Great,” I say. “Food is great.”
We stop at a place called the Roundabout, which looks just as you imagine. Rustic in a fake way, with the lasso and goat on the sign, but naturally rundown with age. Authentic but not—like most of us.
We all climb out and Portia is first to the door; Krista isn’t far behind. Eddie is the one who takes the most time. He stands outside the car, staring at the back. Hesitating.
It’s our grandfather. This is our first stop of the trip, meaning it’s the first time we have to leave him alone.
“You okay?” I say, tapping Eddie’s arm.
He doesn’t look at me, doesn’t take his eyes off the back of the car because Grandpa’s ashes are everything to us. Not for emotional reasons.
“You want to stay out here? I can bring you a doggie bag,” I say. Sarcasm drips.
Eddie turns to me, his eyes wide. Oh, the shock. Like if I had just told him I was leaving my longtime partner for someone I met two months ago.
Oh wait, he did that. Eddie left his live-in girlfriend for the receptionist.
“I’m fine,” he says. “You don’t have to be so bitchy about it.”
Yes. I’m the villain.
Inside the Roundabout, everyone is sitting in a semicircle booth. It’s twice as big as it needs to be. The seats are wine-colored pleather. Krista and Portia have scooted all the way to the center of the booth, leaving Felix on one side. That’s my husband, Felix, the pale one with the strong jaw and white-blond hair with matching eyebrows and lashes. In a certain light, he disappears.
“We probably should get something settled,” Eddie says. He looks like our father. “We’re going to be driving for a while. A lot of gas, food, and motel rooms. I propose we take turns covering the expenses. More than anything else, let’s not argue about it. The last thing we need to do is fight over a gas bill.”
Before I can say a word, my husband does.
“Makes sense,” Felix says. “Beth and I will pay our fair share.”
Only a spouse can betray you like that. Or a sibling.
That leaves Portia. Given that she’s doesn’t really have a career, the deal isn’t fair.
Oh, the irony.
She yawns. Nods. In Portia-speak, she’s agreeing for now but reserves the right to disagree later.
“Great,” Eddie says. “I’ll get this one.”
He takes the check up to the register, because that’s the kind of place this is. Felix goes to the restroom and Portia steps out front to make a call. That leaves Krista and me, finishing those last sips of lukewarm coffee.
“I know this must be terrible for all of you,” she says, placing her hand on mine. “But I hope we can have some good times, too. I’m sure your grandfather would’ve wanted that.”
It’s a nice enough thing for Krista to say, if a little generic. Given the circumstances, I expect nothing less and nothing more.
Still. If everything falls apart and we all start killing each other, she goes first.
You think I said that for shock value. I didn’t.
No, I’m not a psychopath. That’s always a convenient excuse, though. Someone who has no empathy and has to fake human emotions. Why do they do bad things? Shrug. Who knows? That’s a psychopath for you. Or is it the word sociopath? You know what I’m saying.
This isn’t that kind of story. This is about family. I love my siblings, all of them, I really do. I also hate them. That’s how it goes—love, hate, love, hate, back and forth like a seesaw.
That’s the thing about family. Despite what they say, it’s not a single unit with a single goal. What they never tell us is that, more often than not, every member of the family has their own agenda. I know I do.
From HE STARTED IT by Samantha Downing, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright (c) 2020 by Samantha Downing.
Raise your hand if you’re a messy b*tch who thrives on drama and other people’s misfortunes. If you didn’t raise both of your hands and feet, then you might want to get out now because this post is for gossip mongers only. You’ve been warned. Now that that’s been handled, welcome, bottom feeders, to the book round-up you never knew you wanted! Celebrities are literally always trying to sell a memoir about their innermost secrets and are constantly disappointing me and the register girl at Barnes & Noble when she sees me coming to return a book five days after purchase. Most times, these so-called “tell-alls” are just a way to revive a career, promote a new season of their show, or just generally cling to their relevance for another five seconds. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m not shelling out $27 for a hardcover version of information I could’ve tracked down through a semi-intense dive into their social media. So, for those of you craving the real tea and gossip that’s juicier than whatever your Aunt Linda is about to spill at the Thanksgiving dinner table, these are the celebrity memoirs for you.
Inside Out by Demi Moore
We’ve talked about this one before but, y’all, Demi Moore’s new memoir is actually bonkers. Not only does she finally open up about her marriage to Ashton Kutcher (#tbt) and the wild threesomes they used to have to try (in vain) to save their marriage, but she also talks about her meteoric rise to fame and struggles with addiction. She doesn’t just come for her ex Ashton Kutcher, either (though that in itself is messy as hell and way worth the read). She comes for ALL of Hollywood: she dishes on her other ex-husband Bruce Willis and one-time flame Rob Lowe. She even speaks to that one time Jon Cryer publicly declared she took his virginity, claiming he’d been with other women before and that he was just “bad at sex.” HE WAS JUST BAD AT SEX. I’m dead. Deceased. This isn’t just a book, it’s a Hollywood hit list and a petty work of art. Basically, a must-read. We bow down to you, Demi.
My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
In another article I wrote for this site, I made a bold statement when I compared those who are actively not following the Anna Delvey story to mole people, and I still stand by that statement. When news broke about Anna Delvey, the fake German heiress who somehow managed to con $200K out of Manhattan’s elite party scene, I was completely captivated. How did she get away with this? And do any of her friends understand how Venmo works? These were the questions that kept me up at night. My Friend Anna focuses on those friends, the people she scammed, and how she got away with it—one friend in particular, who arguably got hit the worst by Anna’s cons. Written by her former friend Rachel Williams, whom Anna personally scammed out of $62,000 during one lavish vacation, this book reads like a twisty thriller about a sociopath, except everything actually happened IRL. For those looking to familiarize yourself with the story before Shonda Rhimes’ new Anna Delvey Netflix series drops, then I URGE you to pick up this book. Rachel answers probably every single question you’ve ever had about Anna.
Coreyography by Corey Feldman
For those of you who are like “who tf is Corey Feldman” just know that I’m marking you for the youth you so clearly are, and I hope you can feel my shame through this screen. Corey Feldman was one of my FAVORITE child stars and starred in cult classics such as The Goonies and Stand By Me. He was the height of ‘80s fame and also a childhood crush of mine. I still secretly harbor ill wishes towards that trollop Stef for getting to make out with him during The Goonies. I will say, post-child star fame, Corey has not fared well. He’s battled with drug addiction and, to my knowledge, has not landed an acting role since we entered the 21st century. His memoir, Coreyography (great title tbh), sheds light on this. In his book he talks about the dark underbelly of Hollywood for child stars: from getting hooked on drugs at a young age to the rampant sexual abuse he experienced during his time in the lime light and his “innocent” friendship with the late Michael Jackson. This book can be pretty heavy and, at times, even triggering, but it’s definitely worth the read.
It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman
This one is for all you Bachelor Nation fans out there. Andi Dorfman, ex-Bachelorette and Mike Fliess’s worst nightmare, wrote a tell-all back in 2016 about her time as The Bachelorette. Not only did she give us an inside look at what actually happens during the fantasy suite dates, but she wasn’t afraid to talk sh*t about her exes Nick Viall and Josh Murray. You love to see it. It is the ultimate burn book for all things Bachelor and Nick Viall, which should be reason enough to pick this one up.
Darkness to Light by Lamar Odom
I, personally, have been waiting for Jordyn Woods to set her NDA on fire and break the internet by releasing her own tell-all about the Kardashians, but until then I’ll settle for Lamar Odom’s memoir. Former NBA player and ex-husband to Khloé Kardashian, Odom spilled all the tea when his memoir came out at the beginning of the summer. Tbh I feel like the Khloé Kardashian drama is the least exciting of all the bombshells he dropped in this book. Like, for example, did you know that he used a FAKE PENIS to pass a drug test before the Olympics? HOW?? Or that he was a host to multiple orgies when he lived in Miami? For people who Keep Up, or those who just really want a wild read, then you need to binge this one ASAP.
A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston by Robyn Crawford
This book was just released this week, and it’s already everywhere. The author, Robyn Crawford, is the late Whitney Houston’s longtime best friend, and in her memoir she comes clean about the romantic rumors that swirled for a long time regarding her friendship with Houston. Crawford confirms that her and Houston did have a romantic and sexual relationship in the early 1980s, but called things off when Houston started to get famous because Houston said it would “make our journey even more difficult.” It’s been rumored for a while that Houston was bisexual (her ex-husband Bobby Brown made a comment about it in 2016), but nothing has been confirmed, as Houston passed away in 2012. Whitney Houston is an absolute legend and this book shines a light on aspects of her life that have never been released to the public.
Open by Andre Agassi
Even if you’re not a big tennis fan, or your idea of being “sporty” consists of going to a bar on Sunday in your ex-boyfriend’s stolen jersey, you’ll still love Andre Agassi’s memoir if you’re a fan of juicy gossip. Agassi, who was known early in his career for his giant hair, admitted that he actually wore a wig on the tennis court once his hair started to thin. Impossible beauty standards at it again!! Honestly, he looks better with a shaved head anyway. Over in the personal life department, we also get an inside look at his failed marriage to Brooke Shields. He comes clean about testing positive for meth (yikes) in 1997, and basically says he did drugs because he was scared to marry Brooke (double yikes). He also admits that he blamed his assistant to avoid the consequences of said positive drug test. Weird, this reads a lot like my last boyfriend’s explanations for why we broke up.
Ladies Who Punch by Ramin Setoodeh
I haven’t watched The View in years, mostly because I’m not a middle-aged housewife, but I still couldn’t put this book down. Journalist Ramin Setoodeh somehow managed to interview basically everyone involved with the show in its 20-year history, and the behind-the-scenes drama is messier than your Sunday brunch that turns into “one more drink” at a bar nearby. This book has the tea on how basically everyone who has ever left the show was fired, even though they acted like leaving was their choice. You’ll read about how Star Jones used the show to get her entire wedding free, and of course, all the drama with Rosie O’Donnell. But for me, the craziest thing was that Barbara Walters basically had to be pushed out when she retired, and the producers had to forcibly stop her from extending her contract. What a way to go.
Images: Amazon (8)
Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.