Labor Day has officially come and gone, my friends, which effectively means summer is over. I know, it’s sad—especially because I don’t think any of us accomplished a single thing we thought we would. Hot Girl Summer is but a distant memory, and F*ckgirl Fall will likely not happen either. But you know what we do get this fall? An amazing new reading list. It’s the little things.
‘Loathe At First Sight’ By Suzanne Park
(August 18, 2020)
Helen Hoang, author of Kiss Quotient, calls Suzanne Park’s rom-com “bursting with humor, heart, and great energy”. Melody Joo lands her dream job as a video game producer, but it’s not all a walk in the park. She deals with an insufferable CEO, sexist coworkers, and the hot intern who got hired because of nepotism. But things get better when a game Melody creates on a lark becomes an overnight sensation, and suddenly she’s the boss. That means Hot Intern works for her—and the more they work together, the more Melody realizes she may have been wrong to write him off so quickly. This fun, flirty novel also tackles tough themes like microaggressions, sexual harassment, and the misogyny in the gaming industry.
‘American Royals II: Majesty’ By Katharine McGee
(September 1, 2020)
If you didn’t read the first book in Katharine McGee’s series, American Royals—set in an America where we never declared independence from England—then you need to catch up. If you’ll recall, prim and proper Beatrice (who’s got a secret of her own) was thrust to the throne at the end of book one. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace—and Prince Jefferson—at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.
‘His Only Wife’ By Peace Azo Medie
(September 1, 2020)
This book is being hailed as a “Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa, with a healthy splash of feminism”. If that didn’t hook you, His Only Wife features independence, obligations to family, class divides—and a love triangle. Talk about juicy! Afi Tekple, a young seamstress, 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. Uh-oh.
‘Jenna Takes The Fall’ By A.R. Taylor
(September 1, 2020)
This is not a spoiler, because the book opens with protagonist Jenna agreeing to position herself underneath the dead body of Vincent Hull, her insanely powerful boss who’s kind of like a Rupert Murdoch character. Why? That’s the multi-million dollar question. But this book isn’t a thriller—it follows Jenna, a naive Ohio native who moves to New York to become Hull’s assistant and quickly gets swept up by all the money, power, glitz and glamor New York’s publishing industry has to offer.
‘The Last Story Of Mina Lee’ By Nancy Jooyoun Kim
(September 1, 2020)
How well can you really ever know your family or the people you love most? That’s what Nancy Jooyoun Kim attempts to answer in her debut. Margot Lee and her mother Mina have always had a strained relationship, struggling to understand each other. At 26, Margot is surprised when her mom isn’t returning her calls—until she pays a visit and discovers her mother has suspiciously died. This sends Margot digging into the past, learning about her mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and undocumented immigrant. Told through alternating perspectives, The Last Story Of Mina Lee explores the gap between immigrants and their first-generation children, the differences between how we view our parents and how much we really know them, the difficulties of being a working-class immigrant in the U.S., and more.
‘Punching The Air’ By Ibi Zoboi And Dr. Yusef Salaam
(September 1, 2020)
From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Amal Shahid is an artist and a poet, but even at his diverse art school, he feels the effects of a biased system, where he is often seen as disruptive and unmotivated. Then, one night, an altercation in a gentrified neighborhood turns deadly, and Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison.
‘The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes’ By Elissa R. Sloan
(September 1, 2020)
If you liked Daisy Jones & The Six, then you’ll love Elissa R. Sloan’s debut, which is basically that—but with 90s nostalgia. Um, say no more.
JK, I’ll say a little more. The novel follows Gloss, the hottest girl group of the 90s. When Cassidy Holmes, a beloved member of the iconic group, is found dead by apparent suicide 20 years after the group’s heyday, the world is shocked. That includes her former bandmates, who examine what happened, why, and if they played a role.
‘When No One Is Watching’ By Alyssa Cole
(September 1, 2020)
A romance author who is now turning to thrillers, Alyssa Cole is the embodiment of the “get you a girl who can do both” meme. Cole’s first domestic thriller is being called Rear Window meets Get Out, and I don’t know what more you need than that description. Protagonist Sydney Green is born and raised in Brooklyn, a neighborhood she hardly recognizes anymore as a result of the gentrification. She connects with her neighbor Theo, in whom she finds an unlikely ally. The two dive deep into history, where they discover that the push to “revitalize” the community may be more deadly than either of them realized.
‘Modern Madness’ By Terri Cheney
(September 8, 2020)
You may know Terri Cheney from her heartbreaking Modern Love essay that was adapted for Amazon’s miniseries (Terri’s character was played by Anne Hathaway). In her new work of literary nonfiction, the author, former attorney, and mental health advocate presents an unflinching “owner’s manual” that details her battles with bipolar disease, revealing how it touches all aspects of her life from dating to socializing to work and more. It’s gripping, shocking, at times funny, and all-around real.
‘The Night Portrait’ By Laura Morelli
(September 8, 2020)
Ah, 1492: Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and 16-year-old Cecelia, the breathtaking daughter of a disgraced family, wins the Duke of Milan’s affections. Her grand prize? The chance to sit before Leonardo da Vinci (ever heard of him?) for a portrait. Not just any portrait—his famed Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine. The Night Portrait follows the story of da Vinci’s painting and its fictional muse, all the way through World War II Germany when Nazis attempt to seize the painting, and the Allies’ attempt to thwart them.
‘Don’t Look For Me’ By Wendy Walker
(September 15, 2020)
Molly Clarke is not a good mom—or that’s what she’s been telling herself, ever since she killed her daughter Annie in a horrible accident. Grief-stricken, Molly considers just walking away from her life. Which is precisely what everyone thinks she’s done when she mysteriously disappears the night of a horrible storm—everyone, that is, except her daughter Nicole, who’s determined to bring her mother home, even if she doesn’t want to be found.
‘FURIA’ By Yamile Saied Méndez
(September 15, 2020)
In Yamile Saied Méndez’s YA debut, the Argentinian-American writer tackles tough issues like feminism, personal growth, abuse, and more. Camila Hassan lives a double life: at home, she’s an obedient daughter, but on the fútbol field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse with real potential. She dreams of getting an athletic scholarship to a North American university, but her parents, who have no idea of her passion for the sport, would never allow it. At the same time, the guy she loved, Diego, is back in town after becoming an international fútbol star. Camila is forced to choose as her two lives threaten to collide. Although FURIA is not autobiographical, much of it is based on Méndez’s own life—except instead of playing fútbol, Méndez decided to study the sport instead.
‘Grown’ By Tiffany D. Jackson
(September 15, 2020)
Fans of Monday’s Not Coming and Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson is BACK with her latest YA mystery! GROWN is a ripped-from-the-headlines mystery that starts with aspiring singer Enchanted Jones waking up with no memory of the night before, and blood on her hands. Literally. Her new friend, legendary R&B star Korey Fields, is dead—and all signs point to Enchanted. Did she do it? As she reflects on Korey’s hidden dark side, Enchanted grapples with her own potential involvement in his death.
‘Legendborn’ By Tracy Deonn
(September 15, 2020)
This new fantasy series by debut author Tracy Deonn is all about Black Girl Magic—literally. It kicks off with 16-year-old Bree running away from home after her mother’s death, to a program for gifted high schoolers at UNC Chapel Hill. But her plan to escape the tragedy of her past doesn’t go so well, when she witnesses a magical attack her first night on campus. Talk about a rough start. A teenage magician (who calls himself a Merlin) tries, and fails, to wipe Bree’s memory, which causes another one to come flooding back: the night of her mother’s death, where Merlin was, too. Armed with some newfound abilities and a powerful ally, Bree resolves to find out the truth about her mother’s death.
‘The White Coat Diaries’ By Madi Sinha
(September 15, 2020)
In a time where we all think of doctors and other essential workers as superheroes, physician-turned-novelist Madi Sinha’s debut is all the more important. When, on her first day of residency, Norah Kapadia accidentally pricks herself with a needle used on a sick patient, she suddenly realizes how dangerous her profession can be to her own health. Despite pouring years (and lots of money) into studying to become a doctor, she’s almost ready to quit: in part because of the incident, and in part because of the long hours, rude patients, and pressure from her parents to be the “perfect Indian daughter”. It doesn’t help that her chief resident, Ethan, is everything Norah wishes she was. Soon, their working relationship becomes something more. But when a fatal mistake is made and Norah is asked to participate in a cover-up, she has to decide what’s more important: her relationship or her career?
‘Shine’ By Jessica Jung
(September 29, 2020)
It’s been a big year for K-pop stans, and now that’s even more true with the release of SHINE by Jessica Jung, a former member of one of the most influential K-pop girl groups of all time. And the plot is a little bit meta, which I find fun. 17-year-old Rachel Kim was recruited six years ago by DB Entertainment, one of Seoul’s biggest K-pop labels. In exchange for all her dreams coming true (and, you know, a shot at fame and fortune), she has to give up dating, train all the time, and be perfect. What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out, as the industry’s dark underbelly becomes exposed in the mainstream, and Rachel wonders if she has what it takes to really make it. Add in a love interest who is a K-pop golden boy in his own right, and you’ve got the makings of a juicy debut.
‘Ties That Tether’ By Jane Igharo
(September 29, 2020)
I don’t know about you all, but I need to get lost in a good romance this fall (since cuffing season is a long-lost memory), and Ties That Tether delivers just that, with a perspective that’s much needed in the literary world. Azere Izoduwa promised her dying father she’d preserve their Nigerian culture even after moving to Canada, which ends up being one of those “easier said than done” cases. After yet another disaster date, she meets Rafael Castellano, who is tall, handsome, and decidedly not Nigerian. Azere ends up in his hotel room, but ghosts the next morning… until a month later, when work forces them together again, and Azere has to weigh her family commitments with the possibility of ~true love~.
‘Goodnight Beautiful’ By Aimee Molloy
(October 13, 2020)
The novel starts out with Dr. Sam Statler, a hot therapist, going missing after a storm. But let’s rewind: Annie Potter isn’t super thrilled to leave behind her life in NYC to move with her husband Sam to his hometown upstate. Especially because she has nothing to do while he sees (mostly female) clients all day. Little does Sam know, every word of his sessions can be heard from a room upstairs. Just when you think you’ve got this book figured out, it will throw another curveball at you—even the most avid thriller readers won’t predict these surprises.
‘Three Little Truths’ By Eithne Shortall
(October 13, 2020)
I’m honestly down for pretty much any title that gives me Big Little Lies vibes. Three Little Truths follows three women who are looking for a fresh start on idyllic Pine Road. We have Martha, who used to the cool, calm, collected HBIC until moving her family to Dublin under mysterious circumstances. Now, she’s unraveling. Then there’s Robin, who used to be the cool girl in high school, now living with her parents and a 4-year-old son. Finally, we have Edie, who seems to have it all, except for a baby and friends in the neighborhood. When these three women find an unlikely friendship in one another, it will change all their lives and reveal some deep, dark secrets.
‘Cobble Hill’ By Cecily Von Ziegesar
(October 20, 2020)
If the name Cecily Von Ziegesar doesn’t ring a bell, I’m going to need you to tell me what it’s like being an actual child. The author of Gossip Girl (yes!) is back with a tale of four families living in—you guessed it—Cobble Hill. First, there’s Mandy, new mom and former groupie, who is so unfulfilled by motherhood that she fakes a debilitating disease to get her ex-boyfriend Stuart’s attention. Next up, we have Peaches, the school nurse who marches to the beat of her own drum, and also Stuart (same Stuart)’s crush. A few blocks over lives Roy, a well-known British novelist, whose next novel and marriage are simultaneously slipping away. And finally, Tupper, the introverted industrial designer who casually has a warehouse of prosthetic limbs, struggles to connect with his artist wife Elizabeth. Oh ,yeah, and there’s also two teenagers, a ten-year-old pyro, a drug dealer masquerading as a doctor, a lot of hidden cameras, and one figurative bomb waiting to detonate.
‘Memorial’ By Bryan Washington
(October 27, 2020)
In this work of literary fiction, National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree Bryan Washington pens a humorous-yet-poignant portrait of family in its many less-than-functional forms. Benson and Mike are two young adults living in Houston. Benson is a Black day care teacher and Mike is a Japanese-American chef. They’ve been together for a few years, and they love each other, but they can’t help but feel like maybe it’s not enough. Everything changes when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Japan, and he drops everything to say goodbye—right as his mother has arrived in Texas for a visit. While Mike uncovers some life-changing family truths in Japan, his mother and Benson become de facto roommates, to some pretty hilarious ends.
‘The Flip Side’ by James Bailey
(November 10, 2020)
Male-authored rom-coms aren’t common, so I had to show this one some love. If you thought you had a crappy year, be glad you’re not Josh, the protagonist of The Flip Side, whose girlfriend turns down his marriage proposal. After this, Josh loses his job and the flat he and his ex shared. In a true “f*ck it” moment, Josh decides that, come New Year’s, he’ll make all his decisions by the flip of a coin. But when he meets the love of his life by chance and tries to track her down through multiple European cities, he realizes that not everything is as easy as a coin toss.
‘Murder in Old Bombay’ By Nev March
(November 10, 2020)
A little bit of mystery, a little bit of history, March’s based-on-a-real-crime novel has a little something for everyone. In the 1890s, two young Parsi women are murdered, leaving Captain Jim Agnihotri to play Sherlock Holmes (his idol) to solve the crime. As he travels across India investigating, he becomes ~involved~ with someone close to one of the victims. Scandalous!
‘Pretending’ By Holly Bourne
(November 17, 2020)
Holly Bourne’s North American debut novel begins: “I hate men. There, I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox and I’m saying it. I. Hate. Men.” and if that just isn’t the most relatable sentiment, then IDK what is. And you’ll probably relate to its main character, April: pretty, nice, fairly normal, but she just can’t get past the fifth date (more like second for me, but sure). April is frustrated, until she devises an alter ego, Gretel. Gretel is basically a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who’s also a Cool Girl: no baggage, no problems. When April becomes Gretel, she finally finds herself in control—until she meets Josh and genuinely falls for him, and isn’t sure how long she can (or should) keep pretending.
Image: Andrew Le / Unsplash
Who’s been watching all the TV? With a pandemic pushing forward, there’s not much else to do on a Friday (and Saturday and Sunday) night but hit up DoorDash and turn on Netflix. However, well into August, there’s a good chance your watch lists are drying up. If you’re not-so-patiently waiting for your favorite shows to premiere and those new movies to finally drop, we’re with you. It’s a drag.
But we come bearing solutions. The wonderful world of movies and television may be on pause, but books haven’t missed a beat. The publishing industry is still pushing out new releases, and many of them are reminiscent of popular binge-worthy shows and upcoming blockbuster films. As you’re waiting around for that premiere date to finally get locked in, these books will tide you over.
For fans of Mindhunter
Season two of the suspenseful Netflix series left off as Bill’s home life was crumbling and the mystery of young Black boys turning up murdered in Atlanta was left unsolved—a scapegoat taking the fall. The green light for season three is still on hold, not just because of COVID, but also because the director is focused on other projects. Luckily, Matthew Farrell’s Don’t Ever Forget drudges up crimes of the fictional past. It all starts when a state trooper is murdered. Investigator Susan Adler traces evidence back to an elderly patient and his caretaker, which reopens two cold cases from years ago. As more people start to turn up dead, Susan and her wingman Liam have to find answers fast.
For fans of The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah recently announced her hit book Firefly Lane will be adapted into a Netflix series, but fans of the author are also anxiously waiting for The Nightingale to release. The drama set during World War II is set to feature the Fanning sisters (Dakota and Elle). With the release date postponed one year to Christmas 2021, We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall will fill the void. It checks the historical fiction box and features two strong female characters. As two friends come together in 1930s New York, they’re determined to take the future into their own hands. Realizing that men have too much of a hand in their personal and professional happiness, they team up to make their dreams come true at all costs.
For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing
Reese Witherspoon announced plans to adapt the bestseller for the big screen, but everything from the cast to the release date is yet to be determined. As you wait for details to trickle their way into headlines and pray that production doesn’t get delayed, get into some similar reading. Fans of Crawdads will get lost in The Best Part of Us by Sally Cole-Misch. Beth treasures her summers spent at her family’s lake property in Canada lake, her brother’s paintings of the serene setting and all. Fourteen years after her family was forced out, Beth’s grandfather calls her back, and she’ll have to make tough choices. With themes of loyalty, nature, and survival in play, you may have some major Crawdad vibes.
For fans of The Undoing
The Undoing miniseries will hit HBO courtesy of David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies showrunner), but the story itself is based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known. As you’re waiting for the miniseries to debut, you can devour The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell. When Tabitha is reunited with an old love after his wife takes her own life, a woman he never loved, she becomes a convenient suspect. She finds a diary with one simple statement that changes everything: “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death… If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”
For fans of Gossip Girl
It’ll be at least 2021 before the confirmed Gossip Girl reboot hits HBO Max. What will the story be this time? Will Blair and Serena still be at the center? Who’s the new Chuck? Fans of the cult classic may have to wait to find out what drama will unfold, but in the meantime, author Jessica Goodman has written a story about elite prep school kids that’s giving fans a major Gossip Girl feel. Goodman’s They Wish They Were Us centers around the murder of Shaila. Despite the tragedy, her best friend tries to start fresh. She’s admitted into their school’s secret society and set for an epic senior year. Except, she can’t help but feel the wrong guy is doing time for the death of her BFF.
For fans of Daisy Jones and the Six
There’s still no official release date for the TV series adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel about a fictional 70s rock band. And fans may be just as eager to hear the original music as they are to binge the episodes themselves. Solo by Kwame Alexander has a similar musical charm, sucking you into the lyrical world of Blade and Rutherford—a son and his washed-up, ex-rock star father. The story takes you through their heartache, hopes, and healing while the music that consumes them colors the journey.
For fans of Dune
The long-awaited Warner Bros. remake of Dune already had its release date pushed back once, and the new release date of December 18, 2020 has fans eager for what could be the new Star Wars. While we wait for this star-studded film’s release, another star has released just the book to meet our galactic needs. The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Prodigal Son), is an unforgettable science fiction fantasy tale about a solider forced to serve. When a battle with mortal enemies goes wrong, Everson finds himself stranded on an unfamiliar planet where everyone is out to get him. But will forbidden love with an unexpected enemy be their chance to end this war once and for all?
For fans of The Woman in the Window
This eerie movie filled with A-list names such as Amy Adams and Julianne Moore has had a bumpy road to the big screen. After being delayed once due to early audience reactions, its release was postponed again due to COVID-19 and issues finding a streaming platform. While Netflix finalizes an acquisition deal, we recommend reading Lucy Foley’s chilling thriller The Guest List to hold you over. When a glamorous wedding celebration on a remote Irish island turns dark, not everyone will leave alive. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And why?
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Images: Christin Hume / Unsplash; Amazon
If you’ve read one thriller, you start to feel like after a certain point, you’ve read them all. We get it: the main character had amnesia all along. Two sisters switched places. It gets repetitive. So if you are getting a little fatigued of the same old twists, Emily Liebert’s new novel, Perfectly Famous, out June 2, 2020, will be a breath of fresh air, because it’s honestly kind of meta: after famous crime novelist’s Ward DeFleur’s daughter goes missing, the author is in the wind. But one journalist isn’t content with letting Ward remain in obscurity, and she becomes obsessed with finding her. This harrowing tale of one woman’s infatuation and another woman’s fear is full of explosive surprises, perfect for fans of The Night Olivia Fell and Then She Was Gone.
Emily Liebert is the USA Today bestselling author of Pretty Revenge, and Perfectly Famous will be her sixth novel. Perfectly Famous doesn’t come out until June 2, but Betches readers can get an exclusive first look at this gripping novel right now.
Fame is like a flame. A small flourish of light that’s ignited with good intentions and kindled with aggressive aspirations. But as those dreams are stoked, the flame grows fiercer, often too hot to pass your finger through. Fame can spread like a blazing rash, infecting everything and everyone in its path. The flame is inexorable. It can’t be stopped. It won’t be stopped. Until it’s extinguished.
Of course, some notoriety cannot be snuffed out. The force of it is too robust. People covet that fame. They envy it.
Those people become increasingly resentful as their small spark remains just that. No one—they think—deserves to shine forever, to eclipse all the others who are just as worthy of recognition.
Because only one other outcome is possible when a flame refuses to be choked.
It will explode.
CHAPTER 1: WARD
SIX MONTHS AGO
The smooth rhythm of jazz music drifted from the radio as I gazed out the window at the cookie-cutter McMansions with their rambling green lawns, glistening blue swimming pools, and soaring oak trees in a kaleidoscopic of colors. This time of year, the air is crisp but not cold. Children frolick outside until just before bedtime. Doors are left unlocked.
It’s safe here in Connecticut.
Ten minutes passed, as we traveled out of the suburban cocoon and through town, until the car pulled to a stop. I checked my reflection in the makeup compact I’d slipped into my purse at the last minute and allowed myself one final swipe of red lipstick, to match the cover of my new novel, Mysterious Stranger. Then I took a deep breath, trapped the air in my lungs for a few seconds longer than usual, and exhaled before the driver came around to open my door.
“Ready, Ms. DeFleur?” He extended his hand, and I accepted it, grateful for the support.
“Yes,” I spoke softly and stepped onto the glossy pavement, as pellets of rain struck the umbrella he was holding. One foot in front of the other, I reminded myself. I’ve done this before. Twelve times. And I’ll do it again. I hope.
“Here we go.” He hoisted me to standing, and I noticed that a bead of water had tainted my red silk flats like an inkblot in the Rorschach test. I never wear heels. When you’re five foot ten, it’s hard enough to go unnoticed. “I’ll keep you dry.”
“Thank you.” I nodded and raked my fingers through my thick, tumbling waves of auburn hair.
The line was already wrapped around the side of the building, a buzzing procession of anticipation. Instinctively, I looked behind me. As expected, the parking lot was crowded with sedans and SUVs jockeying for an open spot. To see me. Even after so many years, it’s still hard to believe.
Once we were inside, fear rose in my chest. I scanned the troop of men and women, mostly women in dark elastic jeans, stiletto boots, and flowy blouses cut to expose just enough of their assets. The landscape was dizzying. I thought about a quick pivot. I could make it back to the town car before anyone reached me. But I didn’t move.
“Hello, everyone,” I said louder than I’d expected. I sounded confident. Unlike myself. I smiled appreciatively at the light applause.
“Fabulous, you’re here.” My publicist, Gwen, swooped in, placed one hand on the small of my back, and cupped my elbow with the other. “Let’s get you settled. The signing doesn’t officially start for another twenty minutes. We can go over some important items.”
“Okay, sure.” I allowed her to cart me off.
“In here.” She thrust me into a small room with a green tweed couch and a cluttered wooden desk. “Make yourself comfortable. How are you feeling?” She motioned to the couch, dragged the metal desk chair over, and sat down on the edge of it, facing me. Her dark brown eyes were dogged. She’d rimmed them with far too much black eyeliner. And her knee was trembling. Probably from that high-octane coffee-in-a-can she drinks all day.
“Good,” I lied.
“Great, I mean. Definitely great,” I qualified.
“That’s better. Because tonight has to go seamlessly.” She maintained eye contact. “This is the first appearance in your fifteen-city tour.”
“I know.” Between my agent, my publisher, my editor, my editor’s assistant, Gwen, Gwen’s assistant, and all the other people at Lyons & Wilder responsible for launching my books, I’ve heard fifteen-city tour more times than my brain can metabolize.
“What I’m saying is that tonight sets the tone.” She leaned in closer and searched my face for mutual understanding. “There can’t be any . . .” She paused, careful to select the least offensive word. “Issues.”
“I get it.” It wasn’t hard to decipher what she meant by issues. I chose not to mention that it felt like the walls were closing in on us or that I was sweating through my blouse. “Don’t worry, it’s not my first rodeo.”
“Exactly. So here’s the plan.” Gwen lifted her chin and checked her watch. “I’m going to head out there now and make sure everything is under control and that everyone’s ready to roll. You’re going to stay here, have some water, have some fruit.” She signaled to a platter of neatly arranged slices of pineapple, mango, and cantaloupe, and a few bottles of Evian on the desk. “Then I’m going to come back and get you, and we’ll go in together. As always, there’s a table set up for you to sign at. There are plenty of Sharpies. We’re doing red for this book, as discussed. And clearly your fans are here in droves.”
“They never disappoint.” I smiled, pleased by my readers’ unwavering support.
Anxiety aside, I do realize what a gift that is. There are plenty of authors who write well-received novels, one-hit wonders that skyrocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and sell millions of copies. Unfortunately, their sophomore efforts frequently pale in comparison. There are other authors who write five, ten, fifteen books that all do adequately enough to turn a profit and keep their contracts coming. And then there are authors like me, whose audience has doubled, tripled, quadrupled with each new release. Thankfully, so have my advances. But above all that, I feel truly fortunate because my readers are the best readers. They communicate with me, and I communicate with them, from the very safe haven of my home office. Unseen. For that reason, among many others defined by my publishing house, I feel it’s my duty to show up for them. In this case, fifteen times over.
“And they never will disappoint,” Gwen assured me. “Just keep on being you. That’s all you have to do. They love you. Happy, authentic, engaged you.”
“Thank you.” I’ve worked with a lot of “Gwens” over the years, some grittier than others. This Gwen is a straight shooter, which I like. We both know that her little pep talk was a warning not to screw things up tonight. “I’ve got this.”
“Excellent.” I thought she was going to exhale, possibly reveal a hint of relief that her star thoroughbred was ready to race. But she’s still terrified I’ll break a leg.
She can’t be blamed for that. It has happened before, so to speak. It’s lore among the young girls who’ve passed through the halls of Lyons & Wilder. I’ve seen the way they size me up. They think I’m fragile.
Ward DeFleur sat on a wall.
Ward DeFleur had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men.
Couldn’t put Ward together again.
Not on Gwen’s watch, though. I guarantee she’s got an Ace bandage and a tube of Krazy Glue in her purse. She’ll repair me if it’s the last thing she ever does.
“Sit tight. I won’t be gone long.” She stood up and clipped her walkie-talkie to her belt.
“One question.” I raised my index finger.
“Shoot.” Gwen barely looked up from her cell phone. She was already sending a text, probably to my agent, Stephanie, who couldn’t be here tonight because her sister is getting married. Apparently, she asked her sister to switch the date and was horrified that she wouldn’t. In turn, I was horrified that Stephanie even asked in the first place.
“Is there security?”
“There are guards at all three doors. We’re in constant contact.”
“Just in case,” I added, so as not to seem dramatic.
“Ward,” Gwen said with intention. “You’re completely covered. Absolutely nothing will go wrong.” We locked eyes. “This is your night. Enjoy it.” She walked toward the door, turned the knob, and paused. Then she glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “Lucky number thirteen.”
“Lucky number thirteen.”
Copyright © 2020 by Emily Liebert. From the forthcoming book PERFECTLY FAMOUS to be published by Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.
We live in a world that is streaming-obsessed. I know this because my credit card statement every month is nothing but Netflix, Apple TV +, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney + (and Seamless, and some more Seamless, and then a little Uber Eats so the Seamless people don’t judge me, I’m sure you understand). I basically get berated at work all day so that I can afford to watch High School Musical on repeat when I get home. And lately, the only thing streaming that people want to talk about is You. It seems all my friends are really into psychopaths, which now that I know this, makes a lotttt of sense. I mean, I thought they were into psychos, you know, like men who dip their pizza in ranch dressing, but it turns out they’re just turned on by good old-fashioned murderers. Cool. Never going to your boyfriend’s houses, though! I haven’t watched You yet, and the reason why is because I read the book You by Caroline Kepnes years ago and I have not slept ever since. It’s been fun!
Although the book continues to keep me up all night, I was incredibly impressed by how well Kepnes captured the ramblings of a psychopath. Now that I think about it, she was almost too good at it, and I’d like to request the police do a wellness check on her spouse, just in case. Sorry if they break down your door, Caroline! But you brought it upon yourself! If you’ve watched the show AND read the book, you’re probably looking for some new material to make people slowly back away from you at parties. Thankfully, I would rather read a book than engage in actual relationships with a real person, and I’m ready to share my knowledge with you, my fellow anti-socials. So, if you’re craving more books like You, here are seven that I’d recommend you start reading as soon as possible. Before you start making human connections!
The New Husband by D.J. Palmer
The first book is called The New Husband, and, frankly, any number of husbands is a terrifying thought, so sign me up. In this book, Nina Fitch’s second husband knows all her favorite foods, movies, and her son adores him. Definitely a psycho. Nina is a little gun shy because of what her first husband did to her (See! Husbands are terrifying!) so she decides to do a little digging. Sure, Nina. I can call stalking digging, too. When things aren’t adding up, the story gets more and more tense, twisty, and of course, there’s a shocking reveal. I shrieked! You have to get your hands on this one when it comes out on April 14, 2020.
The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale
Contrary to popular belief, The Sunday Girl is not about a twentysomething woman who goes to brunch with her girlfriends, gets day drunk, and orders a $40 uber home before passing out at 5pm. I know! I was also confused. The Sunday Girl is actually about a woman in an abusive relationship, who gets dumped by her boyfriend, and then he posts a sex tape of her online. I think we can all agree at this point he deserves what’s coming to him. And, what’s coming to him is a revenge plan straight out of The Art of War. Girl, I am SOLD. Find out what happens *please say she cuts off his balls, please say she cuts off his balls* when The Sunday Girl comes out on May 5, 2020
The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
You is told from the point of view of Joe, the psychopath serial killer. But what if it was told from Beck’s point of view? In The Last Woman in the Forest, Les Becquets flips the script when her heroine Marian starts to believe that her recently departed man, Tate, was a serial killer. Marian goes on a mission to prove to herself that she was not, in fact, banging a dude who preferred his women in a ditch in the woods, but as she gets further along, sh*t starts getting terrifying and it’s possible Marian will end up as a skin suit for a different freak. I’m not going to reveal what happens, but I will tell you that Diane Les Becquets is an incredibly talented writer, who dedicated a lot of time to creating realistic and nuanced characters. This is not your run-of-the-mill thriller, it’s more of an intense, slow build that ratchets up the terrifying as it goes on. Just like life!
A Good Man by Ani Katz
A Good Man! Ha! At least the title is funny, even if the rest of it makes you dependent on melatonin for the rest of your life. A Good Man is about Thomas Martin, a rich dude from Long Island working in Manhattan, who commits a horrific act and then when he can’t take it back, tries to convince himself that all he ever tried to do was be a good man. Ha! Funny again! Coincidentally, that’s what my ex said when I found him literally on top of another woman. He was also, in fact, not a good man. Another pro for this book is the fact that it has a pull quote on the cover from Caroline Kepnes, aka the author of You. If it’s endorsed by the woman who thought up Joe Goldberg, you know it’s the perfect kind of creepy.
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Okay, if you thought you liked one attractive, charismatic psychopath in You, you are going to be thrilled when you meet the most f*cked up couple of all time in My Lovely Wife. Is the husband a murderer? Sure is! Is the wife a murderer? You betcha! Do they do it together as some kind of twisted sex game to keep the spark alive? Yes, ma’am! Should they have just gone to therapy? Probably, but it’d be less fun! This book is slippery though, so you never really know what’s going on until the very end, and that’s just how I like it, much like murdering young women is how the couple in this novel likes it. My Lovely Wife came out last March, and the best part is, if it really turns you on to murderous families, Downing has another thriller coming out on April 28th called He Started It.
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
So, yes, Darling Rose Gold is definitely more similar to The Act than it is to You, but I figure to us crime fiends that’s basically tomayto, tomahto, am I right? Plus there are plenty of murderous people in this, so you’ll be fine. Growing up, Rose Gold believed that she was seriously ill. Turns out, her mom Patty (YOU WOULD, PATTY), just did everything she could to make people believe that, even intentionally making Rose Gold sick. Patty went to prison, but now she’s out and Rose Gold takes her in. Such a sweetheart! Or is she? In this book, you can’t tell who is lying, and you can’t tell who is winning their little cat-and-mouse murder game until the very end. And who among us hasn’t wanted to kill their mother every once in a while?! (Not me, mom! Please still pay for that trip to Ireland!). You’ll have to wait until March for this one, but I promise you it’s worth the wait.
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
The Stranger Beside Me is the OG book about a handsome and charming man who preys on young women. And all you sickos are just as thirsty for him as you are for Joe! I know this isn’t a novel (it’s true crime, FYI), but I’d put all my money on the fact that Ted Bundy and Joe Goldberg are distant relatives. Let’s get these two on Ancestry DNA!
The Stranger Beside Me is written by Ann Rule, and her writing style is so sweet and sincere, you’ll feel like your mother is telling you a comforting bedtime story, except that bedtime story includes the dates and times that dozens of women were murdered. The Stranger Beside Me has been out since 1980, so while you’re waiting on some of these other books to be released, you should definitely spend your time with this master class in true crime. And just remember, Ted Bundy is dead so you can’t send him nudes in prison, FOR GOD’S SAKE.
And those are my recommendations! If you read any of these, please let me know what you think. And if you think you’re not a reader, just throw one of these in your bag to check out on the subway just in case. Candy Crush will still be on your phone when you go to the bathroom later!
Images: Beth Dubber/Netflix; St. Martin’s Press; Source Books; Berkley Books (3); Penguin Books; WW Norton
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If you’re anything like me, you hate making decisions, and who better to turn to for all your life choices than the stars? Nobody. Well, the stars are not really a person, but more like an entity, but you get what I mean. Summer is almost here, and with pool season comes summer reading lists. But with so many books out there to choose from, how do you decide?! Let your zodiac sign be your guide, because I found the best book to read based on your zodiac sign. Start here with these personal recommendations, then keep your eyes peeled for the Betches Summer Reading List, out v v soon.
If You’re An Aries, Read…
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
If you’re an Aries, this is your week to get stuff done like the bad betch you are. Start thinking proactively with Rachel Hollis’s Girl, Stop Apologizing. Hollis is sick of seeing women downplay their own success and in her latest novel, she empowers hardworking ladies to embrace the future they want instead of adhering to what everyone else expects.
If You’re A Taurus, Read…
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is your week to shine, Taurus! While you’re feeling popular and ahead of the game, pick up a copy of the mega-popular and Instagram-famous Daisy Jones & the Six. When Daisy Jones joins Billy Dunne’s band, The Six, the collaboration becomes an instant sensation. Filled with sex, drugs and rock n roll, this New York Times bestseller is a must for Taurus.
If You’re A Gemini, Read…
The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
True Geminis are feeling all kinds of zen at the moment and should be kicking back this week with a book to bring out the most peaceful version of themselves. Ansley Murphy and her three daughters are finally living the happy lives they’ve all dreamed of… and then two women roll into town destined to take them down. The Murphy women will have to band together to get through this disastrous time.
If You’re A Cancer, Read…
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
It’s time to switch up your genre game, Cancer. Come out of that shell and read a suspenseful thriller that will have you up all night. Miriam Macy and six other strangers have just arrived for a tropical vacation off the coast of Mexico. What they don’t know if that they’ve all been brought there for a reason, and not all of them will make it out unscathed.
If You’re A Leo, Read…
When’s Happy Hour: Work So Hard You Can Barely Work by Betches
Get your career in check this week, Leo! But also don’t forget your priorities (aka happy hour). We know you get serious FOMO sometimes, and that’s okay. We’ve got the perfect book rec for you by yours truly. Learn how to be the best version of your careerwoman self with the founders of Betches as they walk you through the best practices to becoming a CEO, mastering the art of conquering awkward office hookups, and so much more.
If You’re A Virgo, Read…
You, Me, and the Sea by Meg Donohue
Feeling wanderlust this week, Virgo? Why not sail out to sea? It is summer, right? You, Me, and the Sea takes place in a seaside town in Northern California, where Merrow Shawe lives a rather carefree life. But her world is quickly changed when a handsome new man comes to stay with her family, and before she knows it, their romance is changing everything she knows about life, family and home.
If You’re A Libra, Read…
Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer
Libra, you’ve got to read a thriller this week. *Trust us, it’s in the stars.* Instead of stalking your ex on Insta, do yourself a favor and pick up Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer. This suspenseful thriller will have you trying to solve the mystery up until the very end and using your powers for good. If you love The Act on Hulu, this book will be the perfect rollercoaster ride for your spring reading.
If You’re A Scorpio, Read…
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Your love life is on point this week, Scorpio! Take advantage of these romantic vibes coming your way and treat yourself to Helen Hoag’s The Bride Test. This book is smart, sexy, and refreshingly real. Khai Diep is the perfect replacement man for you single Scorpios out there. And if you’re in a relationship, it this steamy love story will have no problem keeping things hot, hot, hot.
If You’re A Sagittarius, Read…
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey
Sagittarius, you need help. Help from the one and only Oprah Winfrey. The Queen recently released The Path Made Clear, the perfect book for anyone trying to get their life in order and find success on the other side. Filled with her own anecdotes and life lessons from the important people around her, this book is one you will absolutely benefit from.
If You’re A Capricorn, Read…
The Mister by E.L. James
Cap, you are on top of the world this week with your flirty mentality. Set up a book date with The Mister by the author of a little romance novel called 50 Shades of Grey and prepare yourself for a steamy night in. Maxim Trevelyan is a major playboy, but when a tragedy strikes his family, he has to shape up. In the midst of his new life is a sexy new acquaintance—a woman he can’t get off his mind no matter how hard he tries.
If You’re An Aquarius, Read…
The Promise of Us by Jamie Beck
Aquarius, you need a little me time this week. Cancel your weekend plans and keep things chill with Jamie Beck’s The Promise of Us. Main character Claire McKenna is not a newbie when it comes to loss. Now that she’s begun her latest business venture and everything seems to be going her way, she runs into a man from her past, and suddenly everything she thought was going right in her life is thrown into chaos.
If You’re A Pisces, Read…
Machine Like Me by Ian McEwan
For the dreamy and creative Pisces, we have quite the book recommendation for you. Mercury has you feeling some type of way this week, and by that we mean you’re feeling extra curious. Machine Like Me by Ian McEwan is a curious book, to say the least. Think romance meets synthetic humans but in the 80s. Seriously, can you imagine being in a love triangle with an AI humanoid?! Maybe if he was a clone Ryan Reynolds. Either way, we trust that you can fantasize about this fake world.
Images: Nicole Wolf / Unsplash
In lieu of a traditional holiday reading list this year (mostly because I didn’t get my sh*t together in time, but also because I (perhaps prematurely) published a Thanksgiving reading list, I’m doing something a little bit different this year. A fun fact about me is that I love to give book recommendations. So that’s what I’m here to do. I’m going to give you some dope book recommendations based on the books you’ve already read and loved. And isn’t that the best way to do it? I think it is. Just a fair warning: some of these books aren’t available until 2019. But then again, 2019 is like, next week, so I think you’ll live.
If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love…
‘My Lovely Wife’ by Samantha Downing
If you read one book this year, make it My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. This book is going to be the new Gone Girl. In all honesty, I think it’s even better than Gone Girl. My Lovely Wife is Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Dexter—a seemingly ordinary suburban husband and wife abduct and murder women for fun. Yeah, it’s wild. And there’s a twist at the end that even the most avid thriller readers (hi, it’s me) will never see coming. That’s really all I can say for now.
If you liked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, you’ll love…
‘One Day In December’ by Josie Silver
This is your classic rom com, turned into a novel! Personally, I prefer novels anyway because I’d rather read something than watch it. Team texting while watching TV, reporting for duty. Anyway, One Day In December follows Laurie, a young woman who barely has her life together, who spots a guy on a bus one day and it’s immediate love at first sight. So then she sets off on a quest to find this mystery bus guy—and finds him in a very unexpected place. Sorry, I can’t give away any more, but you’ll love this book.
If you liked The Girl On The Train, you’ll love…
‘The Lost Night’ by Andrea Bartz
If you’re reading this, on Betches, I assume you’ve blacked out before, yes? Great. Now imagine having blacked out the most important night of your life—the night your best friend committed suicide. Or did she? As protagonist Lindsay revisits her best friend’s suicide, she becomes convinced it was anything but, and sets on a journey to find the truth.
If you liked The Favorite Sister, you’ll love…
‘Best Friends Forever’ by Margot Hunt
Need a thriller, but one you can get your hands on now? Bet. Best Friends Forever is about Alice Campbell, a regular suburban mom, who befriends uber-rich Kat Grant. They become fast friends, until Kat’s husband dies in a drunk accident. Suddenly Alice is being questioned by the cops at Kat is MIA. It will make you wonder: How well do you really know your friends?
If you liked Big Little Lies, you’ll love…
‘The Night Olivia Fell’ by Christina McDonald
This domestic thriller is told from two perspectives: Olivia, a bright and beautiful high school student who mysteriously falls to her death one night, and that of her mother, Abi. A single mom, Abi is often criticized for being overprotective of her daughter. But when she’s struggling to put together her daughter’s final moments, it’s this same overprotectiveness that may help her discover the truth.
If you liked I Had A Nice Time And Other Lies, you’ll love…
‘When’s Happy Hour? Work Hard So You Can Hardly Work’ by The Betches
I mean, I’m sorry about this, but I’m also not. If you loved our brutally honest dating advice, then you’ll love our equally honest and hilarious career advice. From choosing an industry to work in to what not to put on your resume to getting the job and more, we will help you navigate your job search in the real way only we can.
Images: Thought Catalog / Unsplash; Amazon (5)