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.
The seasons are changing, and you know what that means: it’s time for another list of books to read this season. And I have to pat myself on the back over here for being ahead, for once. As in, it’s not midway through the summer by the time I’m putting this together. Progress is progress!
The romance queen herself is back with another perfect beach read, set in a small town. Nora Stephens is a hard-working literary agent who doesn’t leave much time for herself, unless it comes to her Peloton rides. Her sister Libby drags her to the picturesque town of Sunshine Falls for a sister’s trip, where she keeps running into brooding book editor Charlie Lastra from back home. Ugh, why is it always the ones you don’t want to run into? Chance encounter after chance encounter, these two bookworms just might become the main characters of a love story. (I say “just might” when really, we know they will.) Pub Date: May 3
Who doesn’t love a body positive rom-com? Crystal Chen is a curvy fitness influencer who doesn’t let any man get in her way, especially at the gym. That is, until one man literally gets in her way at the gym, when a handsome firefighter steals her squat rack (and maybe her heart?). A relationship starts to take off, until a picture of the couple goes viral and trolls come after them, threatening to tear their budding relationship apart. Pub Date: May 3
It’s a supernatural Big Little Lies set on Long Island—need I say more? Ok fine, we’ve got a trio of women whose lives intersect. One of them can communicate with the dead. One’s life has just imploded. And one starts channeling her menopausal hot flashes. And then they discover the body of a dead teenager whom the police have written off, and suddenly find themselves solving not one, but multiple murders.
It’s giving Lizzie McGuire Movie, and I’m obsessed. Gracie Reed’s life changes when, one day, an SUV pulls up alongside her with Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Chinese cinema’s power couple, inside. Wei wants Gracie to be her (you guessed it) stand-in, and she’ll get paid to pretend to be the A-list actress—and be escorted everywhere by her gorgeous husband. Yep, can’t foresee any shenanigans with this plan. Pub Date: May 3
This debut love story is the perfect beach read. Persephone and Sam spent six summers together practically joined at the hip, until Percy made a choice that changed everything. Ten years later, her mother’s funeral puts her back in the town where everything went right, and then wrong—and this time, Percy has a chance to change the ending of her and Sam’s love story. Pub Date: May 10
Inspired by a true story, The Murder Rule centers around a Virginia-based chapter of The Innocence Project and its efforts to free a man who’s been convicted of murder. But little do they know, their efforts are being thwarted by newcomer Hannah, a law student who infiltrated the Innocence Project with one goal: to keep their client in prison for the rest of his life. Hannah’s efforts to thwart the exoneration eventually lead her to uncovering the truth, which causes her to question everything she’s ever known. Pub Date: May 10
The three main characters are sitting on a jury for a murder case—one with no body, no weapon, and no eyewitnesses. They must decide a man’s fate, all while they try to be unbiased and not let their own experiences with the justice system influence their judgment. All the while, an ambitious young prosecutor’s career is resting on a guilty verdict, while a public defender has an explosive piece of evidence up his sleeve… if only the judge will admit it. Pub Date: May 17
Morgan Flowers is struggling to navigate their gender identity and fill the gap left by their mother, who abandoned Morgan and Morgan’s neurodivergent father. When a breakup causes Morgan’s mother to try to come back into their life, her presence threatens to disrupt everything. Pub Date: May 23
Post-apocalyptic but with a sense of humor, City of Orange’s protagonist is nameless. He wakes up one day with only hazy memories, trying to piece together how he found himself in the apocalyptic landscape he wakes up in. Not to mention, he’s trying to survive by himself. A chance meeting causes the man to realize that nothing is as it seemed. Pub Date: May 24
Lucas Forester married for money. He just wanted to get his hands on his uber-rich wife Michelle’s money, divorce her, and disappear into the night. But an ironclad prenup made that impossible, so he had to resort to a drastic measure: having her killed. Lucas was meticulous, careful; he planned the perfect murder. Or did he? When mysterious postcards keep showing up, he starts to think there may be someone out there who knows something, as impossible as that seems. Will he get away with it after all? Pub Date: May 24
This much-anticipated novel is inspired by Emezi’s own love for romance novels. Five years after the love of her life died in an accident, Feyi Adekola is piecing her life back together. She’s living in a studio in the same building as her best friend and painting again. She’s not ready for a serious relationship, but when Feyi meets a hot stranger at a party, they begin a whirlwind romance—one with fancy trips, indulgent meals, and serious connections for Feyi. The only thing threatening to put a damper on her new life? The fact that she can’t keep her eyes off her new beau’s father. Pub Date: May 24
I’ve been waiting for this one for what feels like forever—it’s been described as Hitch meets The Sun Is Also A Star. It’s about a teen DJ who’s a total romantic, who meets (and falls for) an aspiring novelist who couldn’t care less about all that mushy stuff. Pub Date: May 30
The American Royal family (no, not the Kardashians) are back in the third installment of this beloved series. Queen Beatrice gets drawn into the inner circle of a glamorous foreign princess, which presents complications. Speaking of complicated, so is Sam’s relationship with Lord Marshall Davis. And Nina and Daphne team up to take down the scheming Gabriella Madison. It’s all coming to a head in the next part of this saga. Pub Date: May 31
We’ve got crime, we’ve got estranged friends reuniting, we’ve got an interrogation of the model minority myth. Former BFFs Ava Wong and Winnie Fang reunite when Winnie needs Ava’s help running her lucrative counterfeiting scheme. Pub Date: June 7
Written by the author of Last Tang Standing, you’re in for a funny and relatable ride. After suddenly bursting into tears at a baby store (relatable), Lucie realizes she wants kids. Only problem? She’s nowhere close to being in a relationship. But that’s not really a problem since it’s 2022 and there’s an app for everything, which is how Lucie finds herself on a site that’s basically Match.com, but for co-parenting. She and her match, Colin, agree to raise a baby together without a romantic relationship. Sure, what could go wrong with that plan? Pub Date: June 21
In the sequel to Dead, Dead Girls, Louise Lloyd is back, but still haunted by her first case. She reconnects with a woman whom she was kidnapped alongside as a teen, and they (along with Louise’s girlfriend) spend the night drinking and catching up. The next morning, Louise’s girlfriend wakes up covered in blood, with the other woman lying dead. Knowing there’s a target on her back, Louise has no choice but to solve the murder before she gets wrapped up in it. Pub Date: June 28
It’s rare that a thriller actually catches me by surprise these days, which is why I can’t recommend Look Closer enough. It opens with the brutal murder of Lauren Betancourt, a beautiful young housewife living in a ritzy suburb of Chicago, who’s killed on Halloween night. Then, we meet Simon Dobias, a super smart law school professor who’s married to Vicky, a domestic violence counselor, who has a connection to Lauren. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that down to the very last page, nothing is what it seems. Told through diary entries, text messages, and multiple POVs, this will keep you guessing until the end. Pub Date: July 5
If you like period pieces and mysteries, or are a fan of Passing or Death on the Nile, you’ll love the first in a new series by Louise Hare. Miss Lena Aldridge is a multiracial jazz singer and actress who occasionally passes for white. While singing in a dingy club in London, she’s approached by an American businessman with the opportunity to become a Broadway star. Once across the pond, she meets an American family who take her under their wing… until members of the family start dropping like flies, and suddenly Lena is the number one suspect. Pub Date: July 5
This historical novel tells the stories of two real figures, Gran Toya and Marie-Claire Bonheur, and how their lives intertwine as both women play an important role in the Haitian Revolution: Toya as a warrior at the forefront, and Bonheur as the spouse of revolutionary and later, general, Jean-Jacques Desaslines. Pub Date: July 12
From the author of The Jigsaw Man comes another Detective Anjelica Henley novel. DI Henley is called to investigate the murder of a well-liked preacher, and discovers a ritualistic killing in the process. Looks like the members of this church forgot the “Thou shalt not kill” commandment. As the victim count grows, the stakes get higher, since DI Henley might be next if she doesn’t solve it. Pub Date: July 12
I wish that was the title of my autobiography, amiright? Anyway, this body-positive rivals-to-lovers rom-com is going to make you feel allll the feelings. When two competing photographers get contracted to work together on a body-positive campaign, they quickly go from butting heads to… nvm. Pub Date: July 19
This novel, inspired by Hokeah’s experience and Native American and Mexican heritage, tackles issues like financial instability, imprisonment, alcoholism, and the search for a familial identity, told through multigenerational POVs. It follows Ever Geimausaddle as he navigates hardships throughout his life, such as his father being brutalized by police and his mother’s issues with employment. As an adult, he’s faced with the choice to relocate and, in contemplating that, must decide the type of person he wants to become. Pub Date: July 26
Megan Miranda fans, the wait is over. The Queen is back with another twisty thriller. This one takes place in a North Carolina town near the Appalachian trail whose major attraction is a quaint inn called Passages Inn… and whose claim to fame is a series of disappearances that go back decades. Newcomer Abigail Lovett starts rubbing people the wrong way when she starts asking questions about what happened. Pub Date: July 26
Sivak’s debut is a historical fiction novel about a biracial and bisexual woman, Sylvie de Rosiers, who lives a relatively comfortable life in Saint-Dominque (later Haiti). Her life is uprooted when she flees to Paris during the uprising in the 1700s, only to connect with the minds behind the French Revolution. Pub Date: August 2
With an over 4.5 star rating on GoodReads, this novel is one you won’t want to skip. It’s about two sisters who are polar opposites and living with an abusive mother. Both sisters leave the home, but under vastly different circumstances, which changes the course of their upbringings. When they’re reunited, they are forced to reckon with how much their paths have diverged. Pub Date: August 9
14-year-old Alma is set to be married, even though her parents are worried she’s too young. It’s Delhi, 1946, and political unrest threatens to throw the city into chaos. Alma’s grandmother meddles in the engagement, which sets off a series of events that divide the family. Pub Date: August 9
After receiving rave reviews for My Sweet Girl, Jayatissa returns with another gripping thriller about a bride who disappears, and her best friend, who might know more than she lets on. Amaya is surprised to receive an invitation to her former best friend Kaavi’s wedding in Sri Lanka, since she’s only gotten radio silence from Kaavi for the past few years. She’s even more surprised to find out who the groom is: her ex. Amaya knows then that she has to stop the wedding from happening. Told in alternating POVs from Amaya’s perspective leading up to the wedding and interviews with guests afterwards, you’ll have to try to piece together what happened and figure out just how reliable of a narrator Amaya really is. Pub Date: August 9
Image: Les Anderson / Unsplash
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.
Do we need another lofty introduction or are you all familiar with the concept of my reading lists at this point? I feel like we get it. Here’s a (actually on time for one) spring reading list, full of romance, fantasy, thrillers, and all that good stuff. The first day of spring isn’t technically until March 20th (ouch), but that means you have plenty of time to get your hands on these reads.
Nobody’s Magic by Destiny O. Birdsong (February 8, 2022)
This novel, which was recognized by the likes of Bustle, the Washington Post, and NYLON, follows three Black women in Shreveport, Louisiana: Suzette, Maple, and Agnes. It’s told in three parts. Suzette is a sheltered 23-year-old who begins a relationship with a mechanic, much to her loved ones’ dismay. Maple is still grieving her mother’s murder and shuts herself off from the world until she meets a man who may know what she’s going through more than she realizes. Agnes is working a soul-crushing job far away from home, where she meets a security guard who thinks she has some “magic” within her. When she unleashes that magic, she is forced to confront her family, past, and herself.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (February 22, 2022)
Jess arrives at her brother Ben’s (you guessed it) Paris apartment needing a fresh start. She’s broke, single, and just left her job under suboptimal circumstances. When she gets to the apartment, Ben is nowhere to be found. As she starts investigating what happened to her brother, Jess starts realizing his neighbors are a weird, unfriendly bunch (and not just because they’re Parisian). All of the neighbors had secrets, and they had opportunities. The real question is, which one knows what happened to Ben?
On A Night Of A Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark (March 1, 2022)
You know you’re getting some good historical fiction with a title like that. This one toggles back and forth between New York in the 1990s and Argentina in the 1970s, in the years leading up to the military dictatorship. Paloma Larrea is the daughter of a wealthy Argentine diplomat who’s living a charmed life—until a figure from her father’s past resurfaces and causes Paloma to go digging. What she finds changes her view of her family and puts their lives in danger.
Survive The Dome by Kosoko Jackson (March 1, 2022)
Jackson’s having a busy 2022, with the release of his first adult rom-com and now another young adult fantasy coming out within a few weeks of each other. In this YA sci-fi novel, aspiring journalist Jamal Lawson travels to Baltimore to cover BLM protests. He ends up getting stuck in The Dome, a “safety protocol” implemented by the city. It’s basically what it sounds like: a giant dome encasing Baltimore, with no one coming in or getting out. As unrest grows from inside the dome, Jamal teams up with Marco, a hacker, and Catherine, a basic training graduate, to fight the city’s corruption—even if that corruption goes all the way to the top.
The Club by Ellery Lloyd (March 1, 2022)
Everyone’s dying to get into Home—an uber-exclusive (and uber-expensive) club for only the most elite of elites, with clubs in the hottest cities all over the world. Our story starts at the opening of Island Home, a new club on a private island. The opening party is full of glitz, glamour—and secrets coming to light, not just from the rich and famous, but Home’s staff, who have been pushed to their limits by Home’s demanding CEO for years now. Nobody can get on or off the island except for certain times of the day, and cell phones are not allowed. It’s paradise—until people start disappearing and bodies start washing up.
The Night Shift: A Novel by Alex Finlay (March 1, 2022)
On New Year’s Eve 1999, a brutal triple homicide of three teenage girls working at the local Blockbuster shocks a New Jersey town. A fourth victim miraculously survives. The older boyfriend of one of the victims is named a suspect but disappears before police can bring him to justice. Fifteen years later, an eerily similar crime occurs—this time to girls working at an ice cream shop. Again, one victim survives. Different lives intersect—the surviving victims, the brother of the presumed Blockbuster killer—as the police try to solve the current crime and revisit if they had it right back in 1999.
Turning by Joy L. Smith (March 1, 2022)
Turning is Smith’s YA debut, about a former ballerina who, following an accident, becomes a wheelchair user. When protagonist Genie meets Kyle, an aspiring gymnast, until a traumatic brain injury ends his career, she realizes her time at the barre isn’t finished yet. But to get back up on the barre, Genie has to finally confront the difficult things from her past that she’s been trying to bury: her mother’s alcoholism, her overbearing ex-boyfriend, and her fear that the “accident” that ended her career was not actually an accident.
Glory: A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo (March 8, 2022)
This novel is about the unexpected fall of Old Horse, a longtime leader of a fictional country called Jidada, inspired by the shocking coup that displaced Zimbabwe’s president of nearly forty years in 2017. Destiny returns to Jidada from exile to participate in the revolution and amplify the women who’ve been pulling all the strings behind the scenes. A chorus of animal voices narrates the tumultuous tale, and you can expect vivid imagery.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian (March 15, 2022)
Tempest Raj has been resisting working for her father’s staircase construction company, but when a horrible accident throws her life into disarray, she’s forced to move back home and do what she’s been dreading. When Tempest visits one of her dad’s construction sites, things get interesting, and she discovers her stage double, dead inside a wall. Tempest can’t help but fear she was the intended victim, so it’s up to her to figure out what’s going on—and how much danger she’s really in.
The Lying Club by Annie Ward (March 22, 2022)
This book has been compared to Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere, so you can expect a privileged setting, three women with lots of secrets, and a shocking murder. I’m hooked already. Natalie, an assistant at an elite private school, aspires to live the lifestyle the moms at the ritzy school have. Women like Brooke, a gorgeous heiress, and serial cheater, or Asha, an overprotective mom who thinks her husband’s cheating. They have one thing in common, at least: the hot assistant athletic director Nicholas, whom they all want. And then, when two bodies are carried out of the school, they have another thing in common: they each wanted them dead.
A House Between The Earth and Moon by Rebecca Scherm (March 29, 2022)
The Vanishing Half author Britt Bennett called this dystopian novel “inventive and thrilling,” so that’s all the endorsement I need, tbh. Alex, a scientist, has literally risked it all—his friendships, marriage, kids, and professional future—researching super-algae that he believes can reverse the effects of climate change. When a huge tech company gives Alex the chance to work on his research, he jumps on it. Except his research facility will be in outer space. Alex and six other scientists leave everything behind to test their hypotheses and test out Parallaxis, the luxury residential space station. But when they get there, they realize the “luxury” part was definitely an upsell. And that’s not all—not only are the scientists testing out their research, but they’re also unwittingly the test subjects of a separate experiment.
Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto (March 29, 2022)
The follow-up to Sutanto’s hilarious Dial A For Aunties is here, with Meddy Chan and her aunties now taking on organized crime. This time, the wedding is Meddy’s, so instead of working the wedding, her aunts are guests. They find the perfect family-owned vendor… or so they think. When Meddy overhears her photographer talk about “taking out a target”, she realizes they’re not just dealing with any family, but a crime family. It’s time to get the aunties back together to save Meddy’s big day.
Crimson Summer by Heather Graham (April 5, 2022)
Graham’s last thriller gave me serious True Detective vibes, so I’m pumped for her latest, which opens with FDLE agent Amy Larson finding a small horse figurine at the scene of a massacre in the Everglades. She’s seen it before—it’s the calling card of the murderous cult she was hunting with FBI special agent Hunter Forrest. They team back up to solve the case, putting them in the path of a far-right extremist group, a cartel, and a silent puppet master who’s pulling the strings—and who doesn’t care how many people die in the process.
Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang (April 5, 2022)
This historical novel follows Daiyu, a woman smuggled to San Francisco from her native China in 1882. As she travels across the West, Daiyu takes on several different names and personas. Fighting anti-Chinese racism as she tries to find her way back home, Daiyu has to find her own identity while struggling to survive.
Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson (April 5, 2022)
Ruby is a thirtysomething Métis woman whose life is… a bit of a hot mess. She’s trying to sleep with her counselor and trying to get back with someone she knows is no good for her. And there’s something else that’s been gnawing at her: Ruby is indigenous and was adopted by white parents, and she wants to find out who her birth parents are. Told through multiple POVs, Probably Ruby tells the story of a woman unapologetically searching for herself and forging her own identity.
The Shadow House by Anna Downes (April 5, 2022)
The author of A Safe Place is back with yet another twisty thriller in which a mother must ask herself how far she’ll go to protect her children. Alex is a single mother escaping an abusive relationship who settles in a village near huge forests with her baby and teenage son. Everything seems picture-perfect, except when Alex finds a dead bird on her doorstep, so she ignores it. But pretty soon, strange things start happening, and Alex has to figure out what’s really lurking behind this idyllic community.
The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth (April 5, 2022)
I love Sally, so I’m pumped she has another twisty domestic thriller coming out, about two sisters, Heather (a Kim Kardashian lookalike) and Tully (a lovable kleptomaniac), who are determined to uncover their family’s skeletons, all days before their father is set to divorce their mother (who is in a long-term care facility because she has dementia) and marry a (you guessed it) much-younger woman.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (April 12, 2022)
Seven years after her critically acclaimed second novel Balm, Perkins-Valdez returns with her much-awaited third novel. Set in 1973 Montgomery and inspired by the actual case Relf v. Weinberger, Perkins-Valdez’s latest deals with anti-Black racism in the medical community and forced sterilization. Protagonist Civil Townsend decided to become a nurse to make a difference. Still, when she finds out that two of her patients—aged 11 and 13—underwent forced sterilization, Civil has to make a choice that could change all their lives forever.
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann (April 12, 2022)
Fake dating, friends-to-maybe-lovers, and an asexual #OwnVoices novel? This rom-com truly has it all. Joy is thirty, flirty, and… in love with her best friend, Malcolm. When Malcolm tells her he’s met the love of his life—and spoiler alert, it’s not Joy—she’s crushed. An upcoming weekend getaway is Joy’s last chance to shoot her shot. But she needs a little help, so she teams up with Fox to pretend-date to make Malcolm jealous. The only thing is, the more she fake-dates Fox, the more Joy thinks she might want to date him for real.
Happy For You by Claire Stanford (April 19, 2022)
Evelyn Kominsky Kumamoto is four years into a yet-to-be-finished philosophy dissertation, awaiting a marriage proposal from her Midwestern boyfriend and questioning just about everything in her life. So she decides to quit academia and take a job at a huge internet company, where she’s tasked with developing an app that helps people quantify and increase their happiness. As a biracial Asian American in Silicon Valley, Evelyn finds herself outside her comfort zone. When her future becomes uncertain, Evelyn sets out to find her happiness—for real.
One Of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose (April 26, 2022)
Described as “Big Little Lies meets Desperate Housewives”, this thriller takes place in Buckhead, Georgia, a ritzy neighborhood in Atlanta. Shannon was once the Regina George of Buckhead, with a politician husband to boot—until he dumped her for a younger model. She’s plotting to get revenge, while Olivia, who’s always coveted Shannon’s position at the top of the food chain, is planning to make her move. The new girl, Crystal, has no idea what she’s in for. But don’t sleep on Jenny, hairstylist of the Buckhead women, and keeper of all their secrets. And as the title implies, someone ends up dead.
Such a Beautiful Thing To Behold by Umar Turaki (May 1, 2022)
The small village of Pilam has been ravaged by a mysterious plague called the Grey that zaps its victims’ strength and promise, and only the young are immune. But there’s rumored to be a cure—if only someone can leave Pilam to find it. Dunka decides to find the cure to save his siblings before it’s too late, except his brother and sister have their own plans. The six siblings each forge their own way, setting out individually but eventually coming together as they grapple with their decisions and the ghosts that haunt them.
Family Of Liars by E. Lockhart (May 3, 2022)
So We Were Liars is actually my favorite book, because the twist shook me to my core so hard I thought I was going to literally be sick. But in a good way! So I couldn’t be more excited to read the prequel, Family of Liars. It centers on the Sinclair family and takes place 27 years before the events of We Were Liars. Expect a family who’s under immense pressure to keep up appearances and a tragedy that threatens to crack the facade.
Images: Thought Catalog /Unsplash; Amazon (21)
Another year, another round of books to read. I gotta say, if you’re thinking about making a goal to read a certain number of books in 2022, there is no shortage of good novels out there. From buzzy debuts to highly anticipated follow-ups, Q1 of 2022 has it all. So much so, that this was actually supposed to be a Most Anticipated 2022 reading list, but I ended up frontloading it with books coming out in the first three months! I can’t help it, I just want everyone to read these picks (mostly so I have people to talk about them with, but whatever). So read on for some books to add to your reading list this year. The upside is, you don’t have to wait long for most of these to come out.
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (1/4/22)
This buzzy 2022 debut is told in alternating voices and traverses the globe. Ho depicts two women’s struggles with sexuality, class, family secrets, mental health, identity, and a whole lot more. It’s about two best friends (you can probably guess their names) who are polar opposites. Fiona is outgoing, beautiful, and ambitious. Jane is soft spoken and doesn’t like to stand out. They remain in touch throughout multiple significant life events, such as a crush on a teacher, college, family deaths, and more.
Honor by Thrity Umrigar (1/4/22)
Reese’s January book club pick (yes, that Reese) comes from the author of The Space Between Us. Smita, an Indian-American journalist, travels to India for an assignment: a Hindu woman, Meena, is brutally attacked for marrying a Muslim man, who is murdered. Meena’s attackers? Her own brothers. Smita works to tell Meena’s story while grappling with her perception of modern India, her privilege, and her own trauma.
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (1/4/22)
IDK, I just feel like if there’s an island that’s earned a mythic, Lord of the Flies-esque reputation for driving its inhabitants insane, the last thing you should do is sail there—but good thing the characters of Reckless Girls do exactly the opposite, or there wouldn’t be a book. Luxe is floating aimlessly after the death of her mother, so when she meets rich, handsome Nico, who wants to spend months sailing in Hawaii, she’s along for the ride. Literally. Even when that means picking up two college girls and sailing to aforementioned Lord of the Flies island. Their voyage starts off picturesque, but just like the images you see on IG, this one quickly becomes too good to be true.
The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (1/4/22)
The School for Good Mothers takes place in a slightly dystopian future where Child Protective Services overreaches its power: the agency will identify unfit parents and take away their kids at the slightest perceived offense. In this world, Frida Liu is like many parents: overwhelmed, stressed out, and trying to juggle raising a kid as a single parent and have a full-time job. It’s in this world that Frida makes a mistake and ends up getting her daughter taken away from her. Even worse? She’s placed in a state-sponsored institution where she has to earn back custody by being a “good mother”—whatever that means.
Find Me by Alafair Burke (1/11/22)
Burke’s last three works were optioned for TV, so you might want to get a jumpstart on Find Me before HBO Max or somebody picks it up. In her latest, three women search for the answers to long-buried secrets. Hope Miller has no clue who she really is—literally. 15 years ago, she emerged from a car accident in a small NJ town with no recollection of who she was or how she got there. Lindsay Kelly is Hope’s best friend and a Manhattan defense attorney, and who discovers one day that Hope’s disappeared. So Lindsay calls NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher to find Hope.
Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)
This novel is being described as Younger meets The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, but it delivers so much more than romance—it tackles diversity in publishing (and the search for racial equity, opportunity, and stability in the workforce in general), mental health, self-worth, and more. Nora works as an Editorial Assistant for a publishing house, thinking it will get her on the path to her dream job. But five years and a million coffee orders later, and she’s no further along in her career. When her salary gets cut, Nora decides to do the unthinkable and moonlight for the rival publishing house. But when her employer’s most coveted author gets thrown Nora’s way, she has to decide where her loyalties lie.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (1/18/22)
This debut subverts the Strong Black Woman trope, gives a tribute to Black British culture, and tackles issues like colorism and Eurocentric beauty standards. Talk about a book that can do it all, right? Yinka Oladeji is a thirty-something banker who went to Oxford and is, by all accounts, killing it. Except in one area: she doesn’t have a husband, a fact her family doesn’t let her forget. Ugh, I know how that goes.
Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier (1/25/22)
This book was a little creepy, but in a good way. Lyla thinks she hit the jackpot when she marries Graham, impossibly handsome and even more impossibly rich. But her marriage comes with strings: she will forever be under the thumb of her mother-in-law, Margot. Pretty literally, too, as she lives in the house right above them. These people are so rich that the only thing that gives them excitement is ruining other people’s lives. They’ve made a game of it, in fact. So when Demi, a new tenant, moves into their guesthouse, it’s Lyla’s turn to play the game. Only Demi isn’t as breakable as she seems, and she’s just as determined as Lyla not to lose. Let the games begin.
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner (January 25, 2022)
Need a new domestic thriller that will keep you guessing and gives Girl on the Train and The Family Upstairs vibes? Look no further than Faulkner’s debut, which received a starred review from Booklist. Helen is finally pregnant after years of disappointment. When she meets a new friend, Rachel, at a pregnancy class, suddenly weird things start happening. Like, her husband is acting distant and Rachel keeps running into her everywhere. As Helen tries to figure out what’s going on, it becomes apparent that Rachel might not just be a stranger, and she may be after something.
The Accomplice by Lisa Lutz (1/25/22)
Lutz is the author of The Passenger, The Swallows, and The Spellman Files, to name a few, so you know this one’s about to be a twisty thriller. Enter, Owen: rich, charming, never happy, inextricably linked to his no-nonsense BFF, Luna Grey. Also enter: the deadly secret they share. Years later, Owen ditches his wife for a few hours to drink with Luna, but when Luna finds Owen’s wife dead, they become prime suspects. Their secret kept them together; will it drive them apart?
Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano (2/1/22)
Our favorite author-turned-accidental-hitwoman, Finlay Donovan, is back with a whole new dilemma on her hands: someone’s put out a hit on her ex-husband, Steven. Finlay and Vero try to stop Steven from getting whacked, all without getting in the way of the killer. All the while, Finlay has to keep her kids alive (and none the wiser), juggle a love triangle, and figure out what secrets Vero is hiding, and why. Oh, and of course, submit the manuscript for her book, which just so happens to be about, you guessed it, a female assassin caught in a love triangle. The sequel was just as fun as the first one, so don’t miss this!
The Liz Taylor Ring by Brenda Janowitz (2/1/22)
Told between two timelines, The Liz Taylor Ring traces the impact a family heirloom has on three siblings and their parents. In present day, three siblings butt heads over who will inherit the 11-carat “Liz Taylor” inspired ring from their parents. And in 1970s Long Island, their parents are swept up in a romance of which their families disapprove.
Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala (2/8/22)
Talk about just desserts, right? Sorry, you’re right, I’ll see myself out. Anywayyyy, the author of Arsenic and Adobo (I’m sensing a theme) is coming out with a new mystery that places Filipino heritage front and center. Lila Macapagal finds herself once again at the center of another murder (should we get this girl a mirror? Kidding) when the head judge of her local beauty pageant is found killed. Lila has to team up with her former pageant rival to solve the case and vindicate her former frenemy.
You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen (2/8/22)
Sabriya is a Black Muslim teen whose summer plans go out the window when a terrorist attack causes a rise in Islamophobia in her neighborhood. Sabriya turns to her blog, You Truly Assumed, for comfort, and something unexpected happens: it goes viral. So viral that two more girls, Zakat and Farah, join to help her run the site. As the blog becomes more popular, the girls are opened up to more vitriol. When one of them receives a threat, the three team up to figure out who’s behind the violence, and they have to decide if it’s better to shut down the blog or stand up for what’s right, even if it puts them at risk.
Chilean Poet by Alejandro Zambra (2/15/22)
This buzzy new novel is about, what else, an aspiring poet named Gonzalo who reunites with Carla, otherwise known as The One That Got Away. Gonzalo, Carla, and Carla’s 6-year-old son form a little happy family, but eventually, Gonzalo leaves for New York to pursue a poetry career. In his absence, his stepson Vincente discovers a love for poetry. Years later, as an 18-year-old, Vincente meets an American journalist and encourages her to write about (here it is) living Chilean poets. The search leads her to discover a vibrant community, but will it also put Vincente and Gonzalo back in contact?
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake (2/22/22)
Blake’s adult debut serves up a queer rom-com that has as much depth as it does sizzle. Delilah Green left her small town of Bright Falls, Oregon, after high school and never looked back, moving to New York to make her way as a photographer. Like any artist in NYC who doesn’t have a trust fund, Delilah isn’t doing so hot financially, so when her family offers a big paycheck to photograph her stepsister’s wedding, she can’t exactly say no. The gig puts her up close and personal with Claire, the bride’s gorgeous best friend. *Eyes looking left emoji*
I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (2/22/22)
Jackson’s adult debut is a heartwarming LGBTQ rom-com about second chances, with a classic fake relationship storyline as well. Aspiring journalist Kian Andrews is seemingly over his ex, Hudson Rivers, until he gets an urgent text to meet up. Is Kian finally getting an apology? Closure? Lol no, Hudson needs Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend and attend the wedding of the year as his plus-one. Kian agrees—only to find that their fake relationship might have more substance to it after all.
This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel (2/22/22
Natalie hasn’t heard from her sister Kit in six months, when she suddenly receives a threatening email that prompts her to drop everything and try to visit her at Wisewood, the insular self-help retreat she checked into. They won’t say they’re a cult, but they’re a cult. The thing with cults, of course, is that they don’t want to let anyone from the outside in, and they definitely don’t want to let anyone on the inside out without a fight.
Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett (3/8/22)
Not only is Melina the daughter of a legendary hip-hop record exec, she’s also the sister of Desiree Pierce, a beloved influencer. Safe to say, the masters nonprofit student couldn’t be more different from her family—and she likes it that way. Until her sister Desiree turns up dead in the Bronx of an apparent overdose, and Melina is the only one who knows it’s all wrong. In order to find out what really happened to her sister, Lena has to immerse herself in her world. If you want twists, turns, and shade thrown at IG culture, this is the book for you.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (5/3/22)
The author of Red, White and Royal Blue is making their official YA debut, and we truly love to see it. I really can’t wait for this one. Protagonist Chloe Green is so close to getting TF out of her shitty Alabama high school and winning valedictorian. There’s only one person standing in her way: prom queen Shara Wheeler. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe… then disappears. And Chloe’s not the only one: Shara has kissed the quarterback and her bad boy neighbor, left them cryptic notes, and ghosted. So these three unlikely heroes have to team up, solve the trail of clues, and figure out WTF is going on. I can already see the Netflix movie being made.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (5/10/22)
If you like gothic horror (creepy manors and the like), then you’ll love this highly anticipated thriller that takes place at a haunted hacienda. When Beatriz is proposed to by the dashing Don Rodolfo Solórzano, she accepts—ignoring his first wife’s mysterious death in favor of focusing on what she’ll gain in the marriage. Namely, his sprawling country estate. But when Rodolfo goes to work in the capital, Beatriz starts feeling like she’s not alone in the hacienda. All she knows is that something is deeply wrong, and she might find the answers in investigating what happened to Rodolfo’s first wife—even if it comes at a grave cost.
On Rotation By Shirlene Obuobi (6/21/22)
Angie’s unlucky in love and in med school—she didn’t do so hot on Step One. With her little sister about to get engaged, her parents breathing down her neck, and yet another fuckboy leaving her, she just can’t catch a break. Until, like straight out of a rom-com, she meets a handsome stranger in a park and they spend a magical day together. Except there’s one problem: he has a girlfriend. And more problems keep popping up, namely, because a chance meeting makes this guy a part of Angie’s mutual friend circle.
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.
Images: Amazon (22); Alexandra Fuller / Unsplash
I don’t care what the calendar says (I feel like all my book roundups start this way), it is winter. And you know what that means: a winter reading list, because it’s that time of year again where we just cozy up with a good book. Or at least, that’s what I do. In honor of that, I’ve compiled my winter reading list. Please note that this is not a comprehensive 2021 reading list, which will be coming ASAP. (In more realistic terms, probably like, January.) But for now, here are 14 books you can dive into, from spicy romance to twisty thrillers to poignant historical fiction.
‘A Princess For Christmas’ by Jenny Holiday (October 13, 2020)
I could have included this in a fall roundup, but given that Christmas is in the title, it didn’t feel right. If you already watched The Princess Switch: Switched Again and all the other Christmas movies on Netflix but still need your holiday romance fix, pick up a copy of A Princess for Christmas. It’s basically got everything you loved from Princess Switch or Princess Diaries: a fictional kingdom called Eldovia, a princess who’s in way over her head, finding love in unexpected places. Leo, a cab driver in New York City, picks up Princess Marie of Eldovia and ends up with more than he bargained for—namely, a gig driving Princess Marie around for the remainder of her NYC trip. He doesn’t expect to fall for the princess, or that he will end up in Eldovia for Christmas.
‘Every Last Secret’ by A.R. Torre (December 1, 2020)
What would you do for the “perfect” life? That’s what Cat and Neena, two neighbors in Silicon Valley, are duking it out over. Cat Winthorpe seems to have it all: a beautiful house, social standing, and William, her dreamy husband. And that’s precisely what Neena Ryder wants: Cat’s husband. Neena tries to scheme her way into William’s life; meanwhile, Cat has a secret of her own that could blow up her charmed life. While the ending may not completely take you by surprise, Every Last Secret is a fun and fast ride.
‘Heiress Apparently’ by Diana Ma (December 1, 2020)
If you, like me, are still sad you finished Last Tang Standing, Diana Ma’s latest novel serves up a similar dose of fun, relatable, hot mess fiction, with a Lizzie McGuire Movie-esque twist. Really doesn’t get more fun than that. Gemma Huang disappointed her parents by foregoing college to pursue an acting career, which is how she finds herself living in LA with three roommates, barely scraping by. Things start looking up when she takes a gig in a production of M. Butterfly in Beijing, only to realize she apparently is the doppelgänger of one of Beijing’s most notorious socialites. And there might be a reason for that…
‘How To Catch A Queen’ by Alyssa Cole (December 1, 2020)
If the name Alyssa Cole sounds familiar, good—it should! I’ve been raving about her new thriller, When No One Is Watching, and she also has a romance novel coming out. And I can’t even figure out how to do my job plus one hobby and still have a somewhat normal sleep schedule. SMH, some people can really do it all. Anyway, How To Catch a Queen is the first book in the new Runaway Royals series. Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, and with it, her dreams of becoming a queen finally come true. What she hadn’t imagined since she was a little girl? Nobody in the kingdom respects her. The King is equally perplexed, since Shanti has all the answers to solve Njaza’s problems… except nobody will listen to her.
‘This Time Next Year’ by Sophie Cousens (December 1, 2020)
If you want Love, Actually but in book form, this is basically it. It’s about Minnie Cooper, whose New Year’s birthday has always been a source of woe in her life—especially because her mother missed out on winning the cash prize for giving birth to the first baby of the year born in London, thanks to a guy named Quinn Hamilton, who was born just moments earlier. Even worse, he stole her name! When Minnie runs into Quinn at, where else, a New Year’s party, she’s surprised to find herself wanting more.
‘White Feminism’ by Koa Beck (January 5, 2021)
We didn’t stop reading antiracist books in the summer, and Koa Beck, former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel, has a new book out that is a necessary read. Beck explores how feminism has been commodified, and how it excludes women of color, from the suffragettes to corporate feminism, and how we can fix it for future generations.
‘You Have A Match’ by Emma Lord (January 5, 2021)
Protagonist Abby signs up for a DNA test and gets more than she bargained for: she finds out she has an older sister. But not just any sister: Savannah Tully, an Instagram model. Abby’s plan to find out how tf this happened? Meet up with Savannah at summer camp and find out the truth. But there are a few problems, or else this would be a sentence and not a book: Savannah is a total narc, so getting the truth isn’t as simple as it seems. Plus, Abby’s crush works at the camp. Oh, and Abby’s parents are hiding a secret that could blow everything up.
‘Lana’s War’ by Anita Abriel (January 12, 2021)
Ok, so. I think we’ve maybe reached a point where WWII fiction is an escape again and not a harbinger of things to come? Fingers crossed it stays that way. With that said, Lana’s War is set in 1943 Paris, where Lana Antanova witnesses her husband being executed by the Gestapo—right when she was about to tell him she was pregnant. A few months later, Lana is approached to join the resistance, putting her face to face with the man who killed her husband. Taking up residence with a wealthy Swiss industrialist in a villa, Lana helps Jews escape. Obviously, the Nazis want to stop her, and Lana has to try to protect herself, everything she’s worked for, and the people she’s beginning to love.
‘The Perfect Guests’ by Emma Rous (January 12, 2021)
From the author of The Au Pair comes another suspenseful read set in a creepy Gothic manor. Raven Hall is a sprawling manor in a coastal plain in eastern England. In 1988, 14-year-old Beth Soames is taken there by her aunt to stay with the Averell family. Beth quickly becomes like one of the family, until the Averells ask her to play a twisted game, and nothing is the same after that. Cut to 2019, when Sadie Lawson, a struggling actress, shows up with a suitcase and a dossier of the role she’s meant to play: a weekend guest. Can’t be too hard, right? Right, except the house feels haunted, the party guests feel off, and the host is not what they seem.
‘Waiting For The Night Song’ by Julie Carrick Dalton (January 12, 2021)
Julie Carrick Dalton’s debut gives me serious Where The Crawdad Sings vibes. Its protagonist is forestry researcher Cadie Kessler, who’s on the verge of a breakthrough that could help prevent serious damage to the wilderness. But then she gets a message from her estranged childhood best friend, and the two have to face a dark secret that they’ve kept hidden for over 25 years. As drought, foreclosures, and wildfires spark tensions between locals and displaced migrant farm workers, Cadie has to decide how far she’ll go to protect herself and the forest she loves.
‘Your Corner Dark’ by Desmond Hall (January 19, 2021)
Hall’s debut tackles gang life in Jamaica and pushes the limits of how far a teen will go for his family. Frankie Green gets a coveted scholarship letter, which should be his ticket out. Until his father gets shot, and he finds himself joining his uncle’s gang to pay for his father’s medical bills. Is there such thing as a point of no return? And is it too late for Frankie to build the life he’s always wanted?
‘The Obsession’ by Jesse Q. Sutano (February 2, 2021)
Think of The Obsession like the YA book version of You. Instead of Joe, we have Logan. Instead of Beck, we have Delilah. Some might call Logan a stalker, but he just thinks he’s romantic. Besides, nobody likes Delilah like he does, and they’re meant to be together. All he needs is the right moment to convince her they’re meant to be. When Logan witnesses Delilah kill her abusive stepfather, she may not have much of a choice but to be with Logan.
‘Wild Rain’ by Beverly Jenkins (February 2, 2021)
A little bit of romance, a little bit of historical fiction, Wild Rain tackles women’s rights, suffrage, and Black American history in Reconstruction-Era Wyoming. Did you know Wyoming was a pioneer in women’s rights and women’s suffrage? I didn’t either, but its territorial legislature passed a law in 1869 that gave women the right to vote. So with that in mind, Spring Lee, a property-owning Black female rancher, moves to Paradise, Wyoming. She has one rule: she does not need a man. Until she meets Garrett McCray, a Washington reporter who escaped slavery. When a dark spot from Spring’s past comes back to light, her ranch, her safety, and her newfound love are all on the line.
‘First Comes Like’ by Alisha Rai (February 16, 2020)
The third book in Rai’s Modern Love series, First Comes Like is about Jia Ahmed, a 29-year-old beauty influencer who doesn’t have time for love. But when a Bollywood legend slides into her DMs… well, that only happens once in a lifetime. Meanwhile, Dev Dixit grew up as Bollywood royalty, but his world was rocked by his brother’s unexpected death, and Dev finds himself as the guardian for his teen niece. Unable to deal with the constant public scrutiny, Dev sets off for America, where, one night in Hollywood, he meets a beautiful Instagram influencer. He’s surprised that he’s intrigued by her, and all the more surprised to find out someone has been catfishing her, posing as Dev. Who tf is catfishing Jia? And is Jia and Dev’s relationship doomed from the start?
‘Honey Girl’ by Morgan Rogers (February 23, 2021)
Twentysomething Grace Porter is a straight-laced overachiever who just got her PhD. Which is why it’s totally out of character when she goes to Vegas, gets hammered, and gets married to a woman whose name she doesn’t even know. After that trip, Grace does yet another unexpected thing and goes to New York for the summer to spend time with her new wife. But you can’t run from your problems forever, and soon, Grace’s come knocking at her door.
Images: Sincerely Media / Unsplash; Bookshop
The best—if we’re being honest, maybe the only good—part of the summer of 2020 has been the books. From twisty thrillers to steamy romances, we’ve had it all. Our summer 2020 reads are hot, sweet, evocative—kind of like a really good cocktail. And since you’re likely reading any number of these with a drink in your hand anyway, I thought I’d do the work of pairing some of the biggest summer reads with the perfect drink. You’re welcome.
‘Luster’ + Death In The Afternoon
I love a Death in the Afternoon—and no, that’s not just when my coffee crash hits—because this cocktail almost begs you to drink it. It’s so glamorous, yet kind of out-there (tell me the last time you saw one of these on a cocktail menu… exactly). Not to mention, it’s delicious. I think Raven Leilani’s Luster is just as compelling. So much of this book is about that all-too-familiar striving for satisfaction, electric and desperate and wry. Luster is the perfect accompaniment to this cocktail because it hits those same dark and quixotic notes. Another irresistible point of symmetry is that this drink has only three ingredients, mirroring the open marriage at the center of this story.
- ¾ oz absinthe
- 4 oz chilled prosecco
- 1 sugar cube
Pour the absinthe into a champagne glass. Slowly add the chilled prosecco; if you do it right, your drink will turn an enchanting, iridescent green. Drop in the sugar cube and enjoy that gratifying fizz while it lasts.
‘Hysteria’ + Tequila And Habanero Sour
This book burns with sensual urgency, sort of like the burn from the habanero in this twist on a sour. Jessica Gross’ immersive and dark debut is complex and beautiful, hitting every note in that virtuosic range between desire and shame. I couldn’t resist matching Hysteria with this spicy tequila sour, a drink that encompasses an equally impressive range of flavor and fragrance.
- 4 oz blanco tequila
- 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ oz agave
- 2 dashes habanero hot sauce
Add the tequila, lemon juice, and agave into a shaking tin. Throw in the hot sauce and five to seven ice cubes, then shake vigorously for almost a full minute (if your arms can hold up). Fill two rocks glasses with ice and pour out the mixture through a strainer, dividing the cocktail between the glasses equally. Garnish each glass with a freshly sliced lemon wheel.
‘The Death Of Vivek Oji’ + Mezcal Aperol Gimlet
Akwaeke Emezi’s story about community and loss is the real deal. The masterfully rendered characters and shifting points of view create a poignant vision of the kaleidoscopic world surrounding Vivek. I found it nearly impossible to put this book down, which is why I had to pair it with a drink that I also find impossible to put down: this complex, bittersweet, vibrant mezcal Aperol gimlet.
- 2 oz mezcal
- ¾ oz agave nectar
- 1 ½ tsp Aperol
- ¾ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- grapefruit zest for garnish
Combine the mezcal, agave, Aperol, and lime in a shaking tin. Add five to seven ice cubes and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain your cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a generous strip of grapefruit zest, if you have it.
‘Pizza Girl’ + Rum And Cherry Coke
Pizza Girl will take you for a ride in the very best way. Jean Kyoung Frazier so clearly, brilliantly—and almost harshly, because it’s so relatable it may feel like an attack—renders the mistakes, tragedies, and miracles of youth. I couldn’t resist going a little more literal with this one and pairing Pizza Girl with a riff on a rum and coke. This one’s hopefully a step up from what you were drinking in your high school friend’s basement while your parents thought you were studying, but it’s still a throwback to those days. (Not to mention, it goes great with pizza.)
- 2oz Flor de Cana rum
- 4 oz cherry Coke
- 1 maraschino cherry
You know this song, right? Fill a tall glass with ice and add your rum and cherry coke. Give it a little stir and add a maraschino cherry so you can practice tying the stem into a knot with your tongue when you’re finished.
‘Last Call On Decatur Street’ + Sazerac
Iris Martin Cohen’s Last Call on Decatur Street perfectly captures the blurry beauty of a long night out in one of the most bewitching cities in the world. (Ugh, remember nights out?) A Sazerac is really the only match for this dazzling ode to New Orleans, since the drink was created there in the early 19th century. The dreamy absinthe rinse along with a bold bolt of rye will bring you to the exact sort of summer night Cohen conjures in her page-turning second novel. Just maybe pace yourself with this drink, or you may find yourself having a blurry night of your own.
- 1 ½ tsp absinthe
- 2 oz rye
- 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 ½ tsp simple syrup
Pour the absinthe into a glass along with two ice cubes; swirl the glass and coat the interior. Set aside and add rye, both bitters, simple syrup, and ice to a separate mixing glass. Stir for about a minute. Then, empty the absinthe and ice from the first cup and pour—through a strainer—the contents of the mixing glass into the rinsed glass.
‘Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop’ + St. Germain
Aside from my friends and family, I probably miss traveling the most. Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is a tonic for anyone craving adventure. For a more immersive experience, fix yourself a St. Germain champagne cocktail to go along with it. This drink is as lovely, effervescent and delightful as Roselle Kim’s transportive tale of Vanessa’s voyage to Paris. Plus, it’s French AF so it will really set the scene.
- 1 oz St. Germain
- ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 oz chilled sparkling wine
- lemon zest for garnish
Add the St. Germain and lemon juice in a shaking tin over ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and pour into a champagne glass. If you want to get really fancy with it, chill the glass first. But if you can’t wait, don’t worry about it. Top with cold sparkling wine and garnish with a twist of lemon zest. If you don’t have a shaking tin, you can make this one right in the glass—just make sure you pour in the St. Germain and lemon juice first.
Image: Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com
Before this weird excuse for that season we used to call summer ends, it’s about time I publish my list of the best books to read solely for your IG aesthetic. That’s right, I’m talking about my annual Instagrammable books roundup! They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s exactly what we’re doing here. But don’t worry, because the books themselves are obviously worth reading.
‘Three Perfect Liars’ by Heidi Perks
(March 12, 2020)
This book has been described as Mad Men meets Big Little Lies, which is funny because the cover is very Little Fires Everywhere. And for good reason, I think! It starts when a fire (Little Fires Everywhere) destroys the office of a prestigious ad agency (Mad Men) and three ambitious women all find themselves under the microscope, since each of them has a motive for revenge.
‘The Golden Cage’ by Camilla Läckberg
(April 2, 2020)
Truthfully, I opened this book and was already not excited: woman marries super-rich, handsome guy who is clearly abusive but she’s too blinded by his looks and status to see it, then she’s left high and dry when he leaves her for a younger model? Yawn—or so I thought. What makes The Golden Cage not cliche, and, actually, a gripping page-turner, is that protagonist Faye is incredibly smart, with a dark past of her own. She won’t go down without a fight, and not before her ex-husband’s life is ruined.
‘A Burning’ by Megha Majumdar
(June 2, 2020)
Told through three different points of view, this beautiful novel is a debut for the ages that you’ll fly through in one sitting. Themes like class, fate, corruption, and justice make this book perfect for your summer reading list as three unforgettable characters with big dreams find themselves entangled in the wake of catastrophe in contemporary India.
‘Ordinary Girls’ by Jaquira Diaz
(June 16, 2020)
Fudging the requirements of this list a bit because the paperback is what’s new this summer, but I’m still counting it. And who wants to lug a hardcover to the beach anyway? Diaz’s debut earned her the 2019 Whiting Award, as well as a whole slew of critical praise, so you know it’s good. The memoir chronicles her upbringing in housing projects of Miami and Puerto Rico. She was, by her own admission, a runaway, a high school dropout, a suicide risk, and a street fighter. She was also the queer, biracial, displaced daughter of an absent father and a mother who struggled with mental illness.
‘Sex and Vanity’ by Kevin Kwan
(June 30, 2020)
From the king who brought us Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan is back with a dazzling love triangle that’s sure to spice up your summer. It follows Lucie Churchill, who is torn between her WASP-y fiancé and George Zao, the man she adamantly denies having feelings for (so relatable). This book gives those of us stuck inside our studio apartments a look at fame, fortune, and travel, all while taking a jab at racism and snobbery.
‘One To Watch’ by Kate Stayman-London
(July 7, 2020)
If you watch The Bachelor, this book is the takedown we’ve all been waiting for, and Stayman-London is hardly subtle about it, which I love (ABC is called ABS in the book, Fleiss is Faust, need I say more?). In One To Watch, plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher gets drunk one night and writes a scathing hit piece on the
Bachelor Main Squeeze franchise’s lack of diversity, which goes viral overnight. But then, ABS does a surprising thing: they ask Bea to be the next Bachelorette Main Squeeze. Fun, sexy, and full of heart, you’ll devour this book in a day.
‘The Safe Place’ by Anna Downes
(July 14, 2020)
Emily Proudman just lost her job, her acting agent, and her apartment—all in one day. Rough. To say the least, she’s desperate. But when she runs into Scott Denny, the charming and successful CEO of the company she just got fired from, he offers her a summer job at his remote French estate that seems too good to be true. Her summer starts out totally Instagrammable, filled with plenty of day-drinking by the pool with Scott’s wife Nina and their mysterious daughter Aurelia, but soon, Emily realizes that Scott and his family are hiding something. If she doesn’t stop snooping, things may turn deadly.
‘The Boys’ Club’ by Erica Katz
(August 4, 2020)
I’m not even a lawyer, but this book feels so quintessential Big New York Law that anyone who even has one friend who went to law school will probably find this relatable. Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever who played by the rules: Harvard Law School, prestigious job at the biggest law firm in NYC, longtime boyfriend. But soon she gets seduced by the money of big law and the charm of her coworkers… and suddenly she might want to take a walk on the wilder side. When an incident reveals the dark culture of the firm (you can probably guess what), Alex is thrust in the middle and forced to decide between keeping her job and friends and doing the right thing.
‘The Death of Vivek Oji’ by Akwaeke Emezi
(August 4, 2020)
When a mother in southeastern Nigeria opens her front door to find her son’s body wrapped in colorful fabric, it sends a shockwave through the family. The Death of Vivek Oji explores the electrifying story of one family’s struggle to understand their mysterious child and a heart-stopping act of violence that changes their lives forever.
‘Love After Love’ by Ingrid Persaud
(August 4, 2020)
After her abusive husband dies, Trinidadian native Betty Ramdin and her son, Solo, take in a lodger, Mr. Chetan, and the three eventually pull a Modern Family and form an unconventional bond. But one night, Solo overhears his mom spill a secret, causing him to flee all the way to NYC. Mr. Chetan continues to love and support his adopted family—until a secret of his own is revealed.
‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani
(August 4, 2020)
New Yorkers, I dare you to not find this novel relatable af. Edie is stumbling around her 20s, sharing an apartment in Bushwick, hooking up with the wrong people, working a job she doesn’t care about. But then she meets Eric, a digital archivist in an open marriage with a woman who performs autopsies for a living. (I always said the next time I’d open up to someone would be on an autopsy table…) Edie then finds herself unemployed and invited to stay in Eric’s home—though not by Eric, by his wife. And then sh*t gets compliated.
‘You Had Me at Hola’ by Alexis Daria
(August 4, 2020)
Telenovela lovers unite! For those of us who have felt empty since Jane The Virgin ended, You Had Me at Hola is the cure. After Jasmine Lin Rodriguez goes through a messy public breakup, she returns home to New York City to star in a new bilingual rom-com. Jasmine is determined to be a leading lady who doesn’t need a man, but when she gets partnered with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez, they both end up with more than they bargained for. Will their mounting feelings for each other upend their lives?
‘A House Is A Body’ by Shruti Swamy
(August 11, 2020)
Even people who are “not short story people” (me tbh) will find themselves captivated by A House Is Not A Body, which has stories ranging from a young painter living alone in San Francisco who begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities to an exhausted mother who watches as a California wildfire approaches her home and more.
‘The Heatwave’ by Kate Riordan
(August 18, 2020)
The cover is so gorgeous I can’t stop staring at it. And once you pick up this gripping thriller, you won’t want to put it down. Sylvie Durand has tried to forget La Reverie, her paradoxically named country home in the French countryside. Let’s just say, bad things have happened there. But when a fire calls her back to care for the property, she’s forced to confront the past she wants to put behind her. And that means confronting the memory of her first daughter, Elodie: beautiful, manipulative, reminiscent of one of the Manson girls, gone by age 14.
‘His Only Wife’ by Peace Adzo Medie
(September 1, 2020)
So this isn’t out until September, sue me. That’s what preorder is for!! So. Set in Ghana, His Only Wife is like a Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa. It follows Afi Tekple, a young seamstress, who is arranged to marry Eli, the successful son of her family’s benefactor. Score. Eli’s family agrees to the marriage because they want to get him away from his mistress, and Afi and Eli marry sight unseen (*Love Is Blind voice*), meaning Eli isn’t even at the wedding. Afi moves into his luxury apartment, gets used to her fancy new lifestyle, and finally meets Eli. The problem? Eli doesn’t magically stop caring about his mistress just because he’s married. *Pretends to be shocked*
Images: Jairph / Unsplash; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (3); Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Gallery Books; HarperCollins (2); Knopf Doubleday (3); Penguin (2); Random House (2); St. Martin’s
The summer solstice happened last weekend, meaning it’s officially summer (even if we all think summer begins on Memorial Day). That means we have a whole new bunch of books to get through! Guess the f*ck what, even if we can’t get drunk on rooftops, we have so much time to read. Wow, okay, I sound like a middle school librarian, but it’s true. From gripping thrillers to LGBTQ romances, from vivid historical fiction to empowering memoirs, there are so many good books coming out this summer (or that are already out). If there were ever a time when we needed an escape, it would be the middle of a goddamn pandemic. So here are some books coming out this summer that you need to read, whether on the beach (wearing a mask, six feet from others) or just in your bed.
‘The Summer Set‘ by Aimee Agresti
May 12, 2020
Attention theater kids, you’ll love this charming read that takes place at a theater camp. Once upon a time, Charlie Savoy was the hottest actress in Hollywood, destined for superstardom—until she got too caught up in the partying (you hate to see it). Ten years later, she’s forced to spend her summer volunteering at the summer theater in the Berkshires that launched her career. Even though Charlie is born to do this, it’s not smooth sailing. The artistic director of the camp is none other than her former flame aka ~the one that got away~, and when Charlie’s old rival gets brought on set, her summer threatens to turn into a tragedy real quick.
‘Happy & You Know It‘ by Laura Hankin
May 19, 2020
Have you ever said a hilarious joke that got no laughs, only to have your friend repeat it a little louder and get all the credit? I imagine that’s a small-scale version of what Claire Martin feels when she gets kicked out of her band right before they get super famous for a song she wrote. Dejected, Claire takes a gig as the playgroup musician for a group of young Manhattan moms. As she befriends the moms, she discovers these ladies have much bigger problems to worry about than which Lululemon leggings to wear that day. The perfect summer read, Happy & You Know It is basically like The Assistants but with rich moms, or like Mean Girls mixed with The Nanny Diaries.
‘The Prettiest Star‘ by Carter Sickels
May 19, 2020
It’s 1980, and 18-year-old Brian has just moved to New York City from his suffocating hometown in Ohio with hopes of a free, bright future. Soon, the AIDS epidemic ravages the city, taking the lives of his partner and many of his friends. It leaves Brian to contemplate staying in New York, where he can embrace his sexuality but is surrounded by death, or returning home to Ohio, where his family’s ignorance prevents him from being his full self. Cue the more heartbreaking songs on the RENT soundtrack.
‘Parachutes‘ by Kelly Yang
May 26, 2020
Claire is a “parachute,” a teenager from China sent to study abroad at an American high school and live with a host family. Claire’s host family includes smart and shy Dani, who’s being raised by her single mom. Though they’re going to the same school and living under the same roof, Claire and Dani couldn’t be more different. Claire is beyond wealthy, while Dani is on scholarship, working at her mom’s house cleaning business to make extra money to keep the family afloat. They spend most of the year avoiding each other, until an act of violence forces them together and they realize they’re not as different as they think.
‘Something To Talk About‘ by Meryl Wilsner
May 26, 2020
Berkley’s first queer romance book is here, and it’s about damn time. Anyone who loves celebrity gossip and is fascinated by the ins and outs of Hollywood will enjoy this tale of a high-powered Hollywood producer who falls in love with her assistant—smack dab in the middle of the #MeToo era.
‘Again Again‘ by E. Lockhart
June 2, 2020
So, We Were Liars is one of my top five favorite books, which is why I’m so excited E. Lockhart is back with another fun read that’s full of surprises. Adelaide Buchwald survives a near-fatal family catastrophe and a breakup, after which she spends a summer falling in and out of love a thousand times (me after going on one date), all while confronting her ideas about love and her own secrets.
‘A Song Below Water‘ by Bethany C. Morrow
June 2, 2020
If you like fantasy but prefer your fantastical elements to be injected into a real-world setting as opposed to a completely new world, then A Song Below Water, which is about teen mermaids who live in Portland, will be just the thing for you. Tavia is forced to keep her siren identity a secret, and what makes it even harder is that Portland doesn’t have many Black people, let alone Black people with magical powers. But she has her best friend Effie, and together they navigate crushes, family secrets, and the ins and outs of high school. That all changes, though, after a siren murder trial, and when Tavia and Effie’s favorite fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, tensions start escalating.
‘The Guest List‘ by Lucy Foley
June 2, 2020
Want to get the thrill of watching Knives Out again? Lucy Foley’s latest page-turner is the next best thing. Very reminiscent of Agatha Christie, The Guest List takes place on an island off the coast of Ireland, where unsuspecting friends and family have gathered to celebrate a wedding. You can probably see where this is going: choppy waters, spotty cell service, and then one of the wedding guests turns up dead.
‘The Vanishing Half‘ by Brit Bennett
June 2, 2020
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Mothers comes a new novel about two twins who grew up in a small southern Black community and ran away at age 16. As adults, one twin finds herself back in the very community she tried to escape, while the other secretly passes for white, her white husband knowing nothing about her past. But you can’t run from your past forever, which will become evident when the twins’ daughters’ paths cross.
‘#VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE‘ by Nicole Byer
June 2, 2020
We’ve all heard celebrities called “#brave” for Instagramming with no makeup or filter (never mind their lip fillers and Botox injections). In this book, Byer reclaims the hashtag to detail her personal journey towards body confidence and to advise her readers on how to say f*ck you to the trolls and haters.
‘You Should See Me In A Crown‘ by Leah Johnson
June 2, 2020
Liz Lighty has never felt like she fit in at her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern high school. She’s just counting down the days until she can GTFO of there. Her grand plan? To get accepted into the elite Pennington College, play in the orchestra, and become a doctor. NBD. When Liz’s crucial financial aid falls through, her plan starts to crumble—until she remembers her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. Liz doesn’t want to open herself up to all the judgment and social media trolling that running for prom queen would bring (her school even has its own gossip app, Campbell Confidential, so you know it’s catty), but she has no choice if she wants to get into Pennington.
‘The Boyfriend Project‘ by Farrah Rochon
June 9, 2020
Think John Tucker Must Die, but with an uplifting, female-empowerment twist. In The Boyfriend Project, three women learn they’re all dating the same man. But instead of ruining his life, they band together to invest in themselves: no men and no dating for the next six months. Samiah, a software developer, is finding it particularly hard to put herself first (can relate). But just when she’s on track to finally start developing the app she’s been dreaming of bringing to life, she meets her hot new coworker who’s hard to resist. Ugh, why does it always happen that way?
‘Last Tang Standing‘ by Lauren Ho
June 9, 2020
If you loved Crazy Rich Asians then you’ll want to put Last Tang Standing in your cart immediately, because it’s like Crazy Rich Asians, but more relatable and funnier.
Living in Singapore, 34-year-old Andrea Tang is still single, which, as far as Andrea’s well-to-do family is concerned, may as well be a crime. Andrea is married to her job, though she is keenly aware of her family’s pressure. Told through diary entries, Andrea tries out dating apps, gets wasted (see, I told you it was relatable), falls in love with a rich businessman, dukes it out with a newcomer at her law firm, and navigates the laser minefield that is her family’s intricate dynamics and expectations.
‘Head Over Heels‘ by Hannah Orenstein
June 23, 2020
Head Over Heels is Orenstein’s third romance novel, and she’s really nailed the millennial romance market. Avery Abrams trained her whole life to become an Olympic gymnast, but when an injury crushes those dreams, she’s forced to reassess her life and move back to her hometown. She begins training a promising young local gymnast, and you know sparks are going to fly. But when a scandal rocks the sport, as well as Avery’s past relationships, she must reevaluate her world and her past relationships.
‘Mexican Gothic‘ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
June 23, 2020
Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic is “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” according to Kirkus Reviews. Noemí Taboada receives a letter from her cousin, begging someone to save her from some sort of mysterious peril. Noemí heads to High Place, a house in the Mexican countryside. There she meets her cousin’s scary yet handsome husband, his father, and the shy yet mysterious youngest son. Oh, and the house is probably haunted. Will Noemí be able to leave the house?
‘Party Of Two‘ by Jasmine Guillory
June 23, 2020
Fans of The Wedding Party, Jasmine Guillory is back this summer with yet another steamy romance, this one set in L.A. Lawyer Olivia Monroe flirts with Max Powell, who turns out to be a senator. Their whirlwind romance leads to them going on secret dates and trying to ditch the paparazzi, until they’re forced to go public with their relationship and Olivia faces a ton of scrutiny, which causes her to question if the relationship is really right for her.
‘Take A Hint, Dani Brown‘ by Talia Hibbert
June 23, 2020
One of Oprah Magazine’s 21 Romance Novels That Are Set to Be the Best of 2020, Take a Hint, Dani Brown is another charming romantic novel from Talia Hibbert. Danika Brown is over romance—it only brings disappointment (relatable). What she wants is a no-strings-attached, friends with benefits situation. Which is what she thinks she’s found in Zafir Ansari, the hunky security guard at her workplace. That is, until he rescues her in a fire drill gone awry, and the video of that rescue goes viral and people from all corners of the internet start shipping them. So Dani thinks, what the hell, might as well fake it for the publicity for a little while. We all know where this is going to go! Should I start fake-dating more people “for the publicity”?
‘A Woman Alone‘ by Nina Laurin
June 23, 2020
If you liked The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney, then get ready for more robots behaving badly in Nina Laurin’s newest thriller (and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because Laurin’s The Starter Wife landed on my reading list last summer). But this one is like Smart House, but deadly. After a brutal home invasion, Cecelia, her husband, and 3-year-old daughter move into a new house with a complex AI-operated security system. All is well and good, until Cecelia starts suspecting that the system has killed the occupants of the house, and she’s next.
‘Self Care‘ by Leigh Stein
June 30, 2020
Fans of Diet Starts Tomorrow will love this one! Millennials Maren Gelb and Devin Avery create Richual, a wellness app for women that’s founded on the principle that women being happy with themselves and practicing self-care are forms of resistance against the patriarchy. Devin is the perfectly toned body and face of the app, while Maren is the behind-the-scenes cynic who makes everything work. Self Care is a smart critique of the wellness industry and how toxic, fake, and white-washed it is—but it’s also a very fun read.
‘Someone Else’s Secret‘ by Julia Spiro
July 1, 2020
This one starts out as a breezy beach read, then gets real dark, real quick. Lindsey graduates from Bowdoin at the height of the recession with dreams of working in art galleries and a mountain of student debt. She ends up working as a nanny for a rich family on Martha’s Vineyard for the summer, where she befriends Georgie, the 14-year-old girl she babysits along with her 5-year-old brother.
‘Cinderella Is Dead‘ by Kalynn Bayron
July 8, 2020
Pretend we live in whatever world Cinderella takes place in. It’s 200 years after she found Prince Charming, and now teenage girls are required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select their wives. If they do not find a suitable match, the unchosen girls are never heard from again. Harsh. Enter: 16-year-old Sophia, who would much rather marry Erin, her best friend. At the ball, Sophia flees and finds herself face-to-face with Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella. They team up to bring down the king once and for all. This fantasy-meets-queer romance-meets-patriarchy smashing novel is a fun read for everyone waiting for their fairytale ending.
‘Crooked Hallelujah‘ by Kelli Jo Ford
July 18, 2020
Taking place in 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, 15-year-old Justine is part of a family of tough, loyal women, presided over by her mother and grandmother after Justine’s father abandoned the family. Justine’s mother becomes heavily involved in the Holiness Church, a community Justine finds kind of terrifying and definitely restrictive. Justine tries her best to be a good daughter and devoted follower until an act of violence changes her thinking forever. As an adult with a daughter of her own, Reney, Justine tries to find stability in Texas amidst the oil bust of the 1980s—which is easier said than done.
‘10 Things I Hate About Pinky‘ by Sandhya Menon
July 21, 2020
Need a fun, flirty YA novel that takes on the “fake-dating” trope Netflix loves to push on us in all their teen movies? Look no further than NYT bestselling author Sandhya Menon’s latest release, which follows two frenemies, Pinky and Samir, who each have their quirks. After Samir loses an internship, Pinky invites him to be her fake boyfriend, offering a new internship if he accepts. He needs something to do; she needs her parents to stop coming at her over her life choices. What could go wrong? Well, aside from them bickering constantly and struggling to sell their relationship…
‘He Started It‘ by Samantha Downing
July 21, 2020
Samantha Downing’s highly anticipated novel He Started It is finally here! If you’ve read any of my book roundups in the past, then I feel like you can recite my little summary from memory, but here we go one more time. He Started It follows a family of liars and grifters who are on a road trip to disperse their grandfather’s ashes, and at the end, collect a big insurance payout. But as you can guess, when scamming runs in your blood, you can’t even trust your own family members.
‘The Woman Before Wallis‘ by Bryn Turnbull
July 21, 2020
The Woman Before Wallis is historical fiction, but stay with me! It’s so dramatic you’ll think you’re reading a tabloid, or like, watching The Crown, I guess. Picture this: the summer of 1926. Thelma Morgan, the daughter of an American diplomat, marries Viscount Duke Furness and becomes a member of the British aristocracy (sounds familiar…). Because she’s now a member of the ~elite~ she meets the handsome young Prince of Wales, with whom she starts having an affair. This is already precarious AF, and only gets more wild when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, gets embroiled in a scandal of her own.
‘A Star Is Bored‘ by Byron Lane
July 28, 2020
First of all, love the title, even though it has now knocked one potential off my prospective memoir titles list. But anyway, influenced in part by the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s beloved assistant, A Star Is Bored is about Kathi Kannon, a famous actress known for her role in a blockbuster sci-fi movie, and Charlie Besson, her new assistant. They laugh, they cry, they go on late-night shopping sprees, and they form a friendship that goes beyond that of the typical boss/assistant relationship.
‘The Wife Who Knew Too Much‘ by Michele Campbell
July 28, 2020
After A Stranger On The Beach, Michele Campbell is back with her latest thriller, The Wife Who Knew Too Much. Tabby is a waitress living a fairly modest life, but she never forgot her high school summer love, Connor. He was handsome, kind, and extremely wealthy—which was why his family hated her, and broke them up. So when he shows up back in her life, it seems like a miracle, except there’s a catch: he’s married. And not just married—married to the incredibly wealthy and powerful Nina Ford. But he of course assures Tabby they’re getting a divorce (sure, Jan), but there’s another catch: if he’s caught cheating, he gets nothing in the divorce settlement. So Tabby and Connor continue their affair in secret, until Nina winds up dead. Guess who’s the number one suspect?
‘This Is My America‘ by Kim Johnson
July 28, 2020
17-year-old Tracy Beaumont diligently writes letters every week to Innocence X, asking the organization to look into her father’s case. Her father is an innocent Black man on death row, and after seven years of begging Innocence X, Tracy’s father only has 267 days left to live. Then, things get even worse for Tracy: her brother Jamal is accused of killing a white girl. With Jamal on the run and her father on death row, it’s up to Tracy to investigate what really happened and try to save her family.
‘Today Tonight Tomorrow‘ by Rachel Lynn Solomon
July 28, 2020
Named a most-anticipated book of 2020 by Entertainment, Today Tonight Tomorrow is an instant classic rom-com. This enemies-to-lovers plot involves Rowan and Neil, two high school students who have been bitter rivals on everything: test scores, student council elections, and even gym class. When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan’s last chance at victory is to defeat him in Howl, a senior class scavenger hunt. Of course these two decide to form an alliance, and I think you can guess where this alliance ultimately takes them.
‘Caste‘ by Isabel Wilkerson
August 4, 2020
In her latest work of nonfiction, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson demonstrates, through deeply researched stories about real people, how America has been shaped by a hidden caste system. She traces the caste systems of India, America, and Nazi Germany, exploring eight different criteria that link them all. In addition to diving deep into how this insidious system affects us every day, she offers ways America can break these divisions and try to move past them.
‘The Comeback‘ by Ella Berman
August 4, 2020
In a fiction debut that’s all too timely, The Comeback is about Grace Turner, a young actress who returns to Hollywood after retreating from the public eye. Nobody but Grace knows the reason for her disappearance from Hollywood: the manipulation and abuse from a director who controlled her life. When she’s asked to present this same director with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Grace must come back into the public eye to demand justice.
‘The Night Swim‘ by Megan Goldin
August 4, 2020
If you read Sadie and binged Serial, then The Night Swim was basically written for you. Rachel Krall started a true crime podcast that became a viral sensation and set an innocent man free. Her podcast’s success has turned her into a go-to figure for people hoping to be exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, her podcast has taken her to a small town torn apart by a rape trial: a golden boy—a swimmer destined for the Olympics—is accused of sexually assaulting the granddaughter of the police chief. But as Rachel investigates this case, she’s also getting mysterious notes sent to her by someone who claims their sister who officials say was drowned, was in fact murdered. When Rachel starts asking questions about the drowning, suddenly everyone in town clams up, and the past and present collide as she investigates both cases.
‘The Silent Wife‘ by Karin Slaughter
August 4, 2020
New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter is back this summer with her 20th novel, The Silent Wife. In Atlanta, a young woman is attacked and left for dead. The case goes cold until FBI investigator Will Trent gets an assignment that brings him to a prisoner who recognizes the M.O. of the attack—because he’s been falsely sitting in prison for it. Now, Trent must solve the old case in order to solve this new one.
‘Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop‘ by Roselle Lim
August 4, 2020
If you enjoyed Lim’s debut, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, then get ready for her follow-up, which is just as full of heart, heritage, and food. Lim’s latest tells the story of Vanessa Yu, a fortuneteller who’s been able to see people’s futures at the bottom of their teacups for as long as she can remember. Try as she might to avoid using her powers, people’s fortunes seem to find their way into Vanessa’s life to f*ck things up. When Vanessa sees death for the first time after an appointment with a matchmaker (because, oh yeah, her romance life is also nonexistent), she decides she needs to get rid of her abilities, so she jets off to Paris. There, she learns more about her gift, and comes to realize that knowing your destiny isn’t a curse, but not being able to change it is.
‘Color Me In‘ by Natasha Díaz
August 11, 2020
In this coming-of-age novel, 16-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial identity as a girl with a Black mom and Jewish dad, until her parents split up and she moves to her mom’s home in Harlem. There, she gets sh*t from family members who think she’s too privileged, pampered, and white-passing to relate to the injustices Black people face. On the other hand, her dad wants her to have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet 16, which would earn her sh*t from the privileged kids at her private school. You can’t win! Neveah stays silent until a secret from her mom’s past, falling in love, and witnessing the racism her family faces firsthand forces her to find and use her voice.
‘Raybearer‘ by Jordan Ifueko
August 18, 2020
Need a good YA fantasy read? Look no further than the debut from Jordan Ifueko, which is already getting buzz from Seventeen, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, and now me, and is based on West African traditions and mythology. Protagonist Tarisai was raised in isolation by an absent mother called The Lady, but she has always longed for a family. The adventure begins when The Lady sends Tarisai to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If chosen, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood—what Tarisai has always wanted. But The Lady has other plans, and wants her to kill the Crown Prince. Will Tarisai be strong enough to stand up on her own?
‘Winter Counts‘ by David Heska Wabli Weiden
August 25, 2020
When the American justice system consistently fails you and your people, you become a vigilante of sorts—or at least, that’s what Virgil Wounded Horse does for the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Things get personal, though, when heroin enters into the reservation and finds its way to Virgil’s own nephew. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, he decides to find out where the drugs are coming from and how to make them stop. As Virgil starts to put the pieces together, he’s forced to come to terms with his own demons and grapple with what it means to be Native American in the 21st century.
Images: Dan Dumitriu / Unsplash; Barnes & Noble (36)
Summer is officially over and I know this because yesterday a girl in Uggs spilled her pumpkin spice latte all over me. We’ve now moved into that weird in-between stage of seasons where summer is dead but none of your favorite shows are back on so you don’t have an actual excuse for why you ignored your BFF’s text about getting your ass down to the bars ASAP. Like, b*tch LET ME LIVE (my best life on the couch). But never fear, because where there’s a will, there’s a way for me to get out of being social, and that way is to binge read myself into a coma. That said, we’ve got some bangin’ book series to educate you with that are legit better than binge watching all seven seasons of Game of Thrones. You’re so welcome.
The ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series by Sarah J Maas
I’d been hearing about this series for years and never picked it up because I thought it would be another boring YA fantasy series, and also because I’m stupid. But once I started reading, I could not put these books down. It has all the intrigue and action of Game of Thrones but with twentysomethings and hotter people (if that’s possible). The books follow 19-year-old huntress Feyre who accidentally kills something she shouldn’t and ends up having to spend the rest of her life in a faerie realm. If I lost you just there, HEAR ME OUT THOUGH. At first it’s a little like Beauty and The Beast, but it’s so much more than that by the end of the book. Think epic world building, feuding kingdoms, and badass leading ladies who aren’t afraid to scheme the sh*t out of some men. The books are long AF, but, like, so is a Law & Order: SVU marathon and you people never miss that sh*t.
The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Series by Kevin Kwan
Would it be a comprehensive reading list if we didn’t include Kevin Kwan and the bougiest family we’ve ever f*cking seen? I think not. The Youngs make your family drama look like child’s play and theirs goes down on private jets. Advanced warning: You might want to settle in with your own order of dumplings, otherwise you’re bound to get very, very hungry while reading. And then go see the movie.
The ‘Addicted To You‘ Series by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Just gonna be real up front and say right now that this is a romance series, so don’t @ me in the comments when you get all hot and bothered on the subway because someone said the word “climax.” Let’s be real, these books are no dirtier than whatever you’re texting your ex after three vodka crans. Just saying. The books follow Lily Calloway and Loren Hale, two members of Philadelphia’s most elite families who both happen to be battling secret addictions while also trying to date each other. If that sounds a little heavy, that’s because it kind of is, but in the immortal words of Kim Kardashian West “it’s the good kind of baggage, like Louis Vuitton.” Seriously, this series is INSANE. Think Kardashian-level family drama meets the lux inner circle of Gossip Girl. Now go forth and binge.
The ‘Thousandth Floor’ Series by Katherine McGee
I know I keep comparing sh*t to Gossip Girl, SO SUE ME. It’s not my fault that show was the voice of a goddamn generation. Anyway, moving on. Set in a futuristic Manhattan, the Thousandth Floor series follows five teens who live at the Palace hotel but on, like, steroids. You’ve got all the Upper East Siders and a Lonely Boy living in the year 3000 where not much has changed but they live underwater. I paraphrase; the book actually takes place in 2118. Whatever. In any case, it’s about a group of rich teenagers who all are hiding dark secrets. Dun dun dunnnn. This book is a fast AF read. It reads like a thriller element because each book opens up with someone dying—and you know we betches love death. Feel blessed, because there’s three books already out so that’s at least four happy hours you can miss in favor of binge reading.
‘The Last Time I Lied’ by Riley Sager
This isn’t technically a series but both of Riley Sager’s books involve campy, Final Destination-like plots that are seriously addictive from page one. We love, love, LOVED The Final Girls and the author’s second book is just as binge-worthy. The book follows Emma Davis who, in a very Pretty Little Liars twist of events, realizes all of her BFFs have disappeared after playing a game of two truths and a lie at summer camp one night. It’s kind of like if all the Liars went missing and only Aria had to find out what happened to them (god help them). I’m telling you right now, once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down.
The ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Series by Jenny Han
Look, I’m not trying to be judgmental, but if you haven’t watched Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE. I’m sorry, that was aggressive. But really, I’ve never loved a teenaged boy more and I hate how that sounds coming out of my mouth but it’s the honest goddamn truth. If you watched the movie and have a pulse then you obvi fell in love with Peter Kavinsky. I’m telling you now, the books are even better. Plus there’s already three books out in the series so if you’re looking for some more Peter in your life you’ve got at least 900 pages worth of reading material. You can thank me in the comments.
When’s Happy Hour? By The Betches
Not a series, but you should read it anyways because it’s our third book and we wrote it and it will literally change your life. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Images: Vanessa Serpas / Unsplash; Amazon (7)