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It’s the night before my visit to the set of Tell Me Lies, and I can’t sleep. I toss and turn in the crisp sheets of my Atlanta hotel room bed, too overwhelmed by the reality of what I’m doing there to find a way to rest my mind. An extremely personal novel I spent years writing in private—the idea of publication initially a far-off pipe dream—is in the process of being adapted for television, a ten-episode drama series that will air on Hulu later in 2022. It’s the most surreal experience of my life.
Sometime in the early morning hours, I manage to doze off. I’m drowsy when the sound of my alarm wakes me after too little sleep, but instantly fueled when I remember what I’m doing in Atlanta. I dress and grab a coffee downstairs, then venture outside where my friend Karah Preiss, one of the show’s executive producers, is waiting in a van to take me to the set.
It’s humid when we climb out of the car half an hour later—the May heat edging towards ninety degrees—and the first person I see is Stephen DeMarco. Or, more accurately, Jackson White, the actor so perfectly cast as Stephen. He’s sitting on the steps of his trailer, the door of which is emblazoned with the Tell Me Lies logo—an image displaying the title in the same font used on the book’s cover. As we stride towards Jackson, I feel as though I’m walking into a dream. Or perhaps into the well of my own imagination.
Jackson stands and grins, extends a hand and greets me kindly. He’s read Tell Me Lies, of course, and there’s a shared knowledge between us, like we’re in on a secret. After all, he’s my character come to life. It’s a similar vibe when I meet Grace Van Patten—the actress playing Lucy Albright, the female lead—later that day.
“I have questions for you,” she says, a self-possessed smile spreading across her face. She’s wearing a robe; she’s just finished filming a scene. I can tell immediately that Grace is down-to-earth, relaxed, and yet—she’s a total movie star. Watching her act that afternoon, I feel certain she’ll win an Oscar someday. We’re insanely lucky she’s agreed to play Lucy.
In addition to Karah, there are many brilliant minds behind my book’s adaptation. Emma Roberts and Matt Matruski are also executive producing via Belletrist, as well as Laura Lewis and Stephanie Noonan of Rebelle Media and Shannon Gibson and Sam Schlaifer of Vice’s Refinery29. Meaghan Oppenheimer is the genius showrunner, who’s adapted the series and also serves as an EP.
To say I’m excited to see Tell Me Lies come to life on Hulu later this year is a major understatement, but it isn’t the only book-to-screen adaption I’m looking forward to watching. Here are a few novels I adore that are either in production or have recently premiered on screen:
Luckiest Girl Alive
Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive has remained one of my favorite books since it published in 2015—it inspired me while I was writing Tell Me Lies, and I still recommend it all the time. Now, the bestselling suspense novel is soon to be a film starring Mila Kunis that will air on Netflix in 2022. It’s the unputdownable story of Ani FaNelli, a young, ambitious New Yorker who seems to have it all: a coveted magazine job, enviable clothes, and a handsome fiancé who adores her. But much of Ani’s life is a façade—an attempt to reinvent herself in the wake of an unsettling trauma from her teenage years—and in the midst of trying to conceal her dark past, a buried secret suddenly resurfaces and threatens to unravel her perfect life. Knoll wrote the screenplay and is also an executive producer.
The Last Thing He Told Me
If you haven’t yet read Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me, you may be one of the only ones. The Reese’s Book Club pick made a huge splash when it published in May of last year, and has since spent 52 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list. The mystery-thriller will soon become a limited series on Apple TV+ starring Jennifer Garner and produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Dave created the show alongside her husband, screenwriter Josh Singer. Like the book, the series will follow Hannah Hall, a woman who develops an unexpected bond with her teenage stepdaughter while she searches for the truth behind her husband’s sudden and mysterious disappearance.
Daisy Jones And The Six
As a massive fan of content about the music industry and band drama, I truly cannot wait for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six to hit the small screen. The 2019 page-turner tells the story of a fictional 70’s rock band—Reid has confessed to being inspired by Fleetwood Mac—and is structured as a music documentary transcript. This novel was also a Reese’s Book Club pick; the limited series is produced by Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and will air on Amazon Prime.
Conversations With Friends
I’ve been an avid Sally Rooney reader since devouring her debut in 2017, so I jumped at the chance to watch Conversations with Friends on Hulu when it premiered in May. The 12-part series—created by the same team that adapted Rooney’s Normal People—is moody and character-driven and beautifully shot, with no shortage of steamy scenes and awkward moments. Like the novel, the show follows two Irish millennials, Frances and Bobbi, who fall into a complex romantic entanglement with a slightly older married couple.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale blew me away when I read it several years ago, tears streaming down my face as I turned the final page. Like millions of others who loved the novel, I’m eagerly awaiting the film, in which real-life sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning will play on-screen sisters Isabelle and Vianne. Like the book, the movie will follow the French sisters during World War II as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of France and resist the Nazi regime. The film rights were first optioned by TriStar Pictures in 2015, but production was delayed several times and the release date is now slated for early 2023.
Images: Javier Díez / Stocksy.com; Amazon (5)
We’re already a few months into the new year—how are you tracking your 2022 reading goals? Lagging behind yet? Was that #TBR list a little too lofty? What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet? That last question was one The New York Times posed to Outlander novelist Diana Gabaldon in a November interview amid the flurry of year-end best book roundups. It made my lip curl. The underlying sentiment, that there are books we should be embarrassed not to have read and that reading itself is a self-conscious act—a performance of one’s intelligence and cultural awareness—is one of the reasons I all but gave up books.
I have been a delinquent reader, a dormant bibliophile for much of my twenties and thirties. I went from child bookworm to adult with little desire to crack a spine. The book collection I cultivated as a teenager, dorkishly supplementing with titles I felt were missing from my high school curricula, was only occasionally tended after university. Were there years in which I read fewer than five books? Certainly. Under three? Maybe. Zero? I really don’t know—it’s not impossible. What I do know is books were not my go-to source of entertainment, not even close. When I needed to relax, I turned to the TV. Craving a sweeping epic, I watched a movie. Commuting to and from work, I listened to podcasts.
In 2019, something in me snapped. That year, I read over 50 books. Last year, it was around 90. It’s not that I suddenly found myself with an excess of free time or set myself an aggressive New Year’s reading goal. I haven’t learned how to speed-read. I don’t listen to audiobooks at double-time. And I certainly didn’t wake up one day, deeply embarrassed by all the books I had not yet read. I rekindled my love of books by reading what I loved. I say this like it’s simple, and I guess it is, but it didn’t feel simple. It felt radical. It felt like I became me again.
They say if you want to pick up a hobby as an adult, do what you enjoyed as a kid. So it only fits that my return to books was heavy on young adult fiction. I’m not precisely sure where I started, but I think it may have been with Jenny Han’s To All the Boys series, which I gorged on shortly after the first glorious movie dropped on Netflix. It was cozy and cute and clever. It was a faux fur blanket of a book, which is exactly what I needed in the winter of 2019.
At that point, I was on my thirteenth annual lap as an editor, and I was so tired. The previous year had been the most chaotic in my career thus far. Fresh off my maternity leave, I’d returned to work at a Canadian women’s magazine only to watch dozens of colleagues lose their jobs in an ugly corporate layoff known as the Rogers Red Wedding. Our editor-in-chief resigned, and I was offered her job ten minutes following the slaughter. I took it, but left the place soon after to launch Refinery29 Canada with a four-week timeline and an editorial staff of one: me. Then, as I started hiring, whispers came from R29’s New York headquarters: Was launching Canada a good idea? No sooner had I started Mission: Save Canada began. I’d been sick for months on end, and my toddler had too. I wanted to curl up and sleep forever, but I couldn’t fall asleep. So I read.
I read the three To All the Boys books and Han’s Summer series, and her book Shug. That led to more YA. Some of it dystopian: the Divergent books and Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. I marveled at Nicola Yoon, Jennifer Niven, and Cath Crawley, authors with such beautiful words, big brains, and enormous empathy for teens. I mainlined Colleen Hoover. Every discovery seemed to lead to another: An author would recommend a book on their Instagram or thank another author in their acknowledgments. My library app would serve as a suggestion. I followed the book breadcrumbs, and soon they took me to romcoms and contemporary romances, to Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne and Talia Hibbert. I didn’t know many books as this existed: Stories about people who have to get over their shit to get it on and get together. I fell in love—with the banter and the dialogue and the happy endings, both the ones at the end of the book and the ones within. Reading became my ultimate form of self-care. Nothing soothed my brain the way these books did.
My book breakup is an all-too-familiar tale, set in my early twenties as a university student juggling a full course load and a part-time job pushing multi-layered tablescapes and rattan settees at Pier 1 Imports. I fell behind in my course reading and resorted to watching The English Patient on DVD, the kind of corner-cutting I’d never before engaged in. Novels became a source of grief, not pleasure. Books were work.
Then reading became literal work when I graduated and got a job in journalism; the idea of coming home and picking up a book after spending the day staring at words was wholly unappealing. Mainly because I was beginning to learn that books were not created equal. There were Big Important Books and Smart People Books, and those were the books worthy of consumption and discussion.
I was a junior-level editor at a magazine in Toronto when the second Twilight book came out. There was a copy of New Moon floating around the office that August, passed furtively between colleagues. One day, I remember returning from lunch to find the thick book with its black cover and ruffled red tulip on my chair, a secret pushed well under my desk. The message was clear: This was not a book you wanted to be seen with.
In December, I was reminded of our workplace subterfuge when a Reddit user posted a now-viral AITA after giving their coworker a fantasy novel for the holiday Secret Santa rather than the romance she’d asked for. “I felt kinda cringe buying her romance novels… I figure if she likes to read, then she’d be happy to broaden her horizons and branch out.”
I had this idea of what I was supposed to read for so many years, and books centering on love stories were so not it. Over time, books became something I couldn’t keep up with, something I felt I was on the outside of. Sure, I read here and there, but mostly, I was done with books. Or they were done with me. Funnily enough, the whole time I wasn’t reading books, I harbored a secret desire to write one of my own. After giving birth to my first child, I even gave it a shot. While my son napped, I spent a week or so tinkering with the first chapter of a novel. Frustrated and utterly bewildered by the process, I cast it aside. (I went back and read it recently. One paragraph is quite lovely.)
Maybe it’s that I had no fucks left to give in 2019, or perhaps it’s that every book I read felt like a bit of a fuck you, but immersing myself in the worlds of teenage drama and adult romances felt transgressive, which frankly, is kind of messed up. Many of the books I read may bear the label of “guilty pleasure,” a term almost exclusively applied to things beloved by girls and women. (Romance novels, UGG boots, PSLs.) Setting aside that these books are masterfully written (Tia Williams’s Seven Days In June and Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip are gorgeous, full stop). And setting aside the fact that the romance genre has long been tough stuff while detractors make light—the most challenging book I’ve read recently was Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principle, a soul-crushing meditation on caregiving as much as it is a three-eggplant emoji romance. And setting aside the fact that we shouldn’t have to justify any of this to anyone. Don’t we all just have enough to feel guilty about?
For her part, Gabaldon was unfazed by the question of what books she was embarrassed not to have read yet. “Um. I don’t really consider books as social accessories. I don’t care in the slightest what people might think of what I do or don’t read.” Regardless of what or how much we devour that’s the energy we should all adopt when it comes to our reading habits.
So yes, set your ambitious reading goals. Try a new genre. Seek out BIPOC authors and storytellers whose experiences are different from your own. Crush your #TBR and then build it back up again. But above all: Have fun.
Image: Lucas Ottone/ Stocksy.com
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.
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Images: Amazon (22); Alexandra Fuller / Unsplash
The weather is getting colder, and I don’t know about you, but the only thing I’m doing this winter is curling up with a good book. Now if only I could find a fireplace… In any case, there are plenty of books that are out or coming out soon. We’ve got holiday romances. We’ve got thrillers. We’ve got YA. We’ve got fantasy. We are mostly focusing on 2021, because my brain is not ready to come to terms with 2022 yet, but we’ve got a few 2022 releases. Point is, there should be something for everyone. Happy reading!
‘The Holiday Switch’ by Tif Marcelo (10/5/21)
I know this book came out in the fall, but it’s a holiday rom-com, so it counts for the winter list. In it, Lila Santos moonlights as an anonymous book blogger. During the holiday season, she works at the Holly, a local inn. (Very appropriately named.) But her holiday cheer gets a damper put on it when her boss’s annoying nephew, Teddy Rivera, becomes her coworker and they butt heads left and right. When Lila and Teddy accidentally switch phones one day, they realize they’ve both been hiding secrets from each other—secrets that change a lot.
‘The Holiday Swap’ by Karma Brown (10/5/21)
I promise I didn’t make a mistake! These are two different books. The Holiday Swap is about two identical twins, Charlie and Cass, who switch places. It’s like Parent Trap but without the parents. It all goes down when Charlie, a judge on a reality baking show, gets hit on the head and loses her sense of smell and taste, making her incapable of judging. Cass, meanwhile, is running the family bakery and dealing with her annoyingly persistent ex, so she’s more than happy to escape that life for a bit. Switching places gets complicated when Cass and Charlie each meet hot guys who don’t know they’re not who they say they are.
‘All Her Little Secrets’ by Wanda M. Morris (11/2/21)
Elice Littlejohn is kind of living the dream. She has a degree from an Ivy League law school, a job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, a solid crew of close friends, and a FWB relationship… with her white boss, Michael. Everything is going great—until the day Elice discovers Michael dead of a gunshot wound to the head. Elice keeps her mouth shut about what she saw and gets promoted to Michael’s job. But it’s not the dream come true she thought it would be, because Elice discovers some sketchy company business, which puts her in danger. Make that more of a nightmare come to life.
‘The Fastest Way To Fall’ by Denise Williams (11/2/21)
Emily Henry, the author of Beach Read and People We Meet On Vacation, called The Fastest Way To Fall “a true comfort read”, so I’m sold. We start with a romance between Britta Colby, who works for a lifestyle website, and Wes Lawson, a fitness app CEO-turned-personal-trainer. Britta’s personal trainer, to be exact. The problem? Britta is supposed to be reviewing Wes’ app, and Wes isn’t supposed to date his clients. Can their relationship work out? See what I did there?
‘Doctors and Friends’ by Kimmery Martin (11/9/21)
Calling all Grey’s Anatomy fans—Kimmery Martin is back with another medical drama. The novel was written before covid but might be a little too close to home: three med school friends reunite for a European vacation, but as they’re getting ready to set off, a virus sends the world into disarray. One is an ER doctor in NYC, one works for the CDC, and one is an OB-GYN in San Diego. All of their lives are thrown into chaos by the virus. Okay, what did Kimmery know??
‘Duke, Actually’ by Jenny Holiday (11/16/21)
Jenny Holiday is back with another contemporary holiday romance. It’s New York City during Christmastime, and Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, is recently dumped, unemployed (what does a Baron even do anyway?), and on a deadline to find a royal-approved prospective bride. While in NYC, he links up with Dani Martinez, a smart and gorgeous professor he met at a royal wedding and struck up a friendship with. As they hang out more, and the holiday spirit activates, their friendship may turn into something more.
‘NOOR’ by Nnedi Okorafor (11/16/21)
Protagonist Anwuli Okwudili goes by AO, her initials as well as Artificial Organism, the name she’s given herself after a car crash forced her to undergo a number of body enhancements. When she’s attacked at a trip to her local market, AO goes on the run and meets a man who goes by DNA, and together they attempt to cross the desert to avoid capture. Not easy when you’re living in a dystopia where an evil capitalist government is controlled by an equally nefarious megacorporation.
‘Our Violent Ends’ by Chloe Gong (11/16/21)
The second in Gong’s NYT best-selling series is out. The YA retelling of Romeo + Juliet is set in 1920s Shanghai and tackles issues like imperialism, multiculturalism, and gender. In the sequel, Shanghai is teetering on the edge of a revolution. Juliette is out for blood, after sacrificing her relationship with her beloved Roma to protect him from the blood feud. But when the two are forced to work together to save Shanghai, their secrets may drive them apart.
‘When We Were Them’ by Laura Taylor Namey (11/16/21)
Willa, Luz, and Britton had a friendship that they thought would last forever—until Willa fucked it up when they turned 18. The week of high school graduation, all Willa has left of the friendship is a box full of mementos. As she goes through the box, she revisits their friendship and tries to figure out who she is without her best friends.
‘King of Battle and Blood’ by Scarlett St. Clair (11/30/21)
This book is all the rage on TikTok, of all places, and I can see why: it’s got vampires, murder plots, a love story, and a whole lot more. So here’s the plot. Most of us look forward to our wedding day (I hope), but Isolde Lara is not most of us. She considers it her death day. That’s because she’s marrying Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, the Vampire King, to end a years-long war. Once they’re married, she’s going to kill him—she thinks. But she doesn’t succeed and Adrian threatens to turn Isolde into a vampire if she tries to kill him again. But maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, because there’s some definite chemistry between them…?
‘Bed Stuy: A Love Story’ by Jerry McGill (12/1/21)
In this novel by writer, artist, and activist Jerry McGill, an unlikely romance sparks between Rashid, a young Black man from Bed Stuy, and Rachel, a married woman who’s 20 years Rashid’s senior. Their budding relationship forces them to confront a number of issues, like race, class, privilege, and more.
‘A History of Wild Places’ by Shea Ernshaw (12/7/21)
Travis Wren gets hired by families of missing people to find them after their cases go cold. He takes a job investigating the disappearance of Maggie St. James, an author of macabre children’s books who went missing—and it ends up being his last. Travis disappears after heading to Pastoral, an insular community founded in the 1970s, and where Maggie was last seen. Years later, Theo, who grew up in Pastoral, finds Travis’ truck. Theo’s efforts to figure out what happened to Travis end up unraveling a whooole lot of secrets.
‘If This Gets Out: A Novel‘ by Cale Dietrich and Sophie Gonzalez (12/7/21)
In this queer rom-com, 18-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight aren’t regular teenagers—they’re one-half of the biggest boy band in America. But underneath the carefully made-up and hair-sprayed exterior, there are cracks in the group, and Ruben is tired of being forced to stay in the closet by management. On a European tour, Ruben and Zach’s friendship turns into something more, and they want to tell their fans they’re in love. But their management is standing in the way, and Ruben and Zach have to figure out how they can stay true to themselves.
‘The Love Con’ by Seressia Glass (12/14/21)
Kenya Davenport couldn’t be more different than her STEM parents—she loves anime, gaming, and cosplay, and dreams of being able to cosplay full-time. When she enters a reality competition called Cosplay or No Way, her dream feels that much further in reach… but there’s a catch. For the final round of the show, the contestants must compete with their significant others… but Kenya is single af. Her best friend Cameron agrees to be her fake boyfriend for the show. Two close friends faking a relationship for the cameras? What could go wrong—or what could go right?
‘The Sorority Murder’ by Allison Brennan (12/28/21)
Three years ago, sorority girl Candice Swain was last seen at a party, arguing with some of her sisters… and was never seen alive again. In present day, Lucas Vega decides to do his senior capstone project on Candice Swain’s murder. He produces a live podcast investigating the murder and teams up with former U.S. Marshall Regan Merritt. To everyone’s surprise, they start uncovering clues, which means they start angering someone who does not want to be found out.
‘Must Love Books’ by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)
Book lover Nora thought she’d finally set out on the path to her dream job as an editorial assistant at Parsons Press, but five years later, she’s jaded, burnt out, and worse: facing a paycut. Nora decides to do a little work for her rival publisher to make ends meet, but when Andrew Santos, Parsons’ star author, enters the picture, Nora has to choose a side.
‘The Overnight Guest’ by Heather Gudenkauf (1/25/22)
In the summer of 2000, a sleepover with Josie Doyle and her best friend Becky turns traumatic when an unknown gunman kills Josie’s family. Josie’s life was never the same, and Becky hasn’t been seen since. Flash-forward to present day, and crime writer Wylie Lark is snowed in in the very house Becky and Josie were last seen in. As the snowstorm rages, Wylie gets an unexpected visitor: a young boy. Wylie tries to find out the child’s identity and parents, but he doesn’t want them to be found. The book alternates between the summer of 2000 and the present.
Images: Vertikala / Stocksy.com; Amazon (17)
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What a year, huh? Thank god this flaming tumbleweed made of discarded trash has finally come to a close. And while I don’t think that the world just magically improved the moment the clock struck 12:01am on January 1, 2021, at least we have some things to look forward to, like all the good books that are coming out. From highly anticipated debuts to new works from fave authors, here’s what we’ll be reading in 2021.
‘Be Dazzled’ by Ryan La Sala (January 5, 2021)
This Queer YA romance is like Project Runway meets ComicCon. Raffy has a passion for fashion design and is determined to win the cosplay competition at ComicCon. He has some stiff competition, though: Luca, his ex, who broke his heart. Which would be bad enough to deal with, except the two end up partnered together for the contest. This is gonna get messy.
‘The Push’ by Ashley Audrain (January 5, 2021)
The Push just might be the book of 2021. Its TV rights have already been sold, if that tells you anything. Blythe Connor survived a traumatic upbringing, which has left her unsure if motherhood is the right path for her. When her daughter Violet is born, it only brings Blythe’s fears to the surface—especially since, from the moment Violet enters the world, bad things start happening. Blythe struggles to love and understand her daughter, who keeps pushing them away. When tragedy strikes her family, Blythe is forced to finally come to terms with who her daughter really is.
‘What Could Be Saved’ by Liese O’Halleran Schwarz (January 12, 2021)
Alternating between Bangkok, 1972 and present-day Washington, D.C., What Could Be Saved follows Laura and Bea Preston, two sisters dealing with their mother’s dementia, who are contacted by a stranger who claims to be their brother who vanished 40 years earlier. Laura flies to Thailand to meet him and ends up with a lot more questions than answers.
‘Wings of Ebony’ by J. Elle (January 26, 2021)
Elle’s debut fantasy is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Rue, a Black teenager in Houston, has her entire world turned upside down when she finds out she’s half-god. And just in time, too, because evil forces are trying to take over the world. Naturally.
‘Do Better’ by Rachel Ricketts (February 2, 2021)
Need another book for your anti-racism education? Pick up a copy of Do Better, which offers mindful and practical steps to dismantle white supremacy on a personal and community level. Ricketts combines her experiences as an attorney, grief counselor, and anti-racism educator with her certifications in yoga, Reiki, and mindfulness to provide heart-centered and spirit-based practices.
‘Finlay Donovan Is Killing It’ by Elle Cosimano (February 2, 2021)
This is part fun read, part suspense. Finlay Donovan is newly divorced, barely making ends meet after her husband ran off with his secretary (so cliche). She’s behind on her book deal and dodging calls from her agent. Until one day when she meets her agent to discuss progress on her new novel, about a hit man, and a rich housewife overhears and thinks she’s actually a murderer for hire. Finlay would chalk it up to a misunderstanding and go on her way… but the money the woman’s offering might be too good to pass up.
‘Girl A’ by Abigail Dean (February 2, 2021)
Lexie is known to the world as Girl A, after escaping a horrific childhood of abuse and rescuing her siblings from her parents’ house of horrors. She’s fine with that and prefers to leave her past in the past, which is usually easy since she relocated to the other side of the world, her father died, and her mother was sentenced to life in prison. But when her mother dies and Lexie is named the executor of her will, she’s forced to return and unbury her past, which means coming to terms with the fact that she and her siblings don’t remember their childhood the same way.
‘The Kindest Lie’ by Nancy Johnson (February 2, 2021)
It’s Chicago in 2008. Barack Obama is ushering in a new wave of hope. Enter: Ruth, Ivy League graduate and Black engineer, who’s about to start a family with her smart, successful husband. There’s one problem: Ruth can’t let go of feeling like she needs to make peace with the baby she abandoned as a teenager. She returns home to start digging into the past and befriends Midnight, a white teenager. When a traumatic event brings the town’s simmering racial tensions to a boiling point, Ruth and Midnight’s friendship—and lives—get pushed to the breaking point.
‘The Project’ by Courtney Summers (February 2, 2021)
Fans of Courtney Summers and Sadie can finally breathe now that her new novel is coming out. Just like Sadie, The Project has a true crime element, though this time we’re not just dealing with a missing sister, but a sister who’s run off to join cults. The cult in question is a group called the Unity Project, which has undeniably done a lot of good in the community. Some, in fact, don’t even think it’s a cult. Lo Denham, though, is determined to uncover The Project for what it really is. When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works at claiming the Unity Project killed his son, Lo just might have the chance to prove to everyone what she’s been saying all along.
‘The Removed’ by Brandon Hobson (February 2, 2021)
Ever since Ray-Ray was killed in a police shooting 15 years ago, the Echote family hasn’t been the same. They rarely talk about Ray-Ray and each member of the family muddles along in their own silo of grief. Their annual family bonfire is the one opportunity they get to talk about his memory. As this year’s bonfire approaches, each family member finds the line between the normal and spirit worlds blurring—to bizarre ends.
‘The Gilded Ones’ by Namina Forna (February 9, 2021)
I’ve literally been waiting for this book since 2019, so yeah, it deserves a spot on the “most anticipated” list. The first book in the Deathless series, The Gilded Ones follows Deka, a 16-year-old who lives in fear of the blood ceremony that will decide whether she can become a member of her village. But the blood ceremony doesn’t go her way, and Deka knows she faces a fate worse than death. That is, until a mysterious woman presents her with the choice to leave the village to fight the emperor with an army of girls who are just like her.
‘Quiet In Her Bones’ by Nalini Singh (February 23, 2021)
When socialite Nina Rai disappeared one night, everyone assumed she’d just grown tired of her life and run away. Until 10 years later when her bones turn up in the forest surrounding her tony neighborhood. Nina’s son, Arav, is determined to find out the truth—but suddenly nobody wants to talk.
‘The Lost Apothecary’ by Sarah Penner (March 2, 2021)
The past and the present meet in Penner’s debut novel. In 18th century London, a female apothecary secretly doles out poison to women who need permanent solutions for the toxic men in their lives. She has two rules: every recipient must be carefully tracked in her logbook, and she will never do harm to another woman. In present day London, Caroline takes a solo trip to London after learning of her husband’s infidelity, and ends up discovering a vial from the apothecary.
‘Too Good To Be True’ by Carola Lovering (March 2, 2021)
I could not be more excited that the author of Tell Me Lies is back, this time with a psychological suspense. Skye Starling seems to have it all: beautiful, smart, a doting boyfriend who proposes. What she doesn’t show is that she’s battled crippling OCD since childhood. And what she doesn’t know is that her devoted fiancée is anything but. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, Lovering will throw another curve ball at you.
‘The Jigsaw Man’ by Nadine Matheson (March 16, 2021)
Matheson is a criminal defense attorney-turned-author whose debut tackles race and sexism in the legal system. In Jigsaw Man, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is her unit’s sole Black female detective. She’s racing to catch an infamous serial killer and his copycat before more people turn up dead.
‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ by Pip Williams (April 4, 2021)
Based on actual events, The Dictionary of Lost Words is set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement. As a group of male scholars puts together the first Oxford English Dictionary, one of the scholars’ daughters decides to collect the “objectionable” words they deem not suitable for the dictionary. The result is her own dictionary of lost words.
‘The Last Exiles’ by Ann Shin (April 6, 2020)
Inspired by true events, The Last Exiles is a portrait of a young couple, Jin and Suja, who fell in love in university and whose relationship is put to the test by Kim Jong-il’s regime. Suja is an aspiring journalist from a well-off family, and Jin is from a humble family in a small village. When Jin returns home to find his family starving, he makes a split-second decision that will change the course of his life forever. Suja, knowing nothing about what Jin has done, risks her family, her privilege, and her life to find him.
‘You Love Me’ by Caroline Kepnes (April 6, 2021)
The third book in the Joe Goldberg series opens with Joe leaving city life behind and moving to an island in the Pacific Northwest to be one with nature. He gets a job at the library and that’s where he meets Mary Kay, the librarian. This time, Joe tells himself he won’t obsess or impose. But this is Joe Goldberg, so we all know what’s really going to happen.
‘Dial A for Aunties’ by Jessie Q. Sutanto (April 27, 2021)
What do you get when you accidentally kill your blind date? Well, most of us would probably get arrested, but Meddelin Chan’s aunties come to the rescue to help her, um, dispose of the evidence. All would be well except the body is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the billionaire wedding all the ladies are working. As if pulling off the wedding of the century isn’t hard enough, now the Chans have to do it without getting discovered in the process.
‘The Woman With The Blue Star’ by Pam Jenoff (May 4, 2021)
In Krakow 1942, an unlikely friendship forms. 18-year-old Sadie Gault was living in the Krakow ghetto until the Nazis liquidated it, forcing its residents to live in the sewers. Well-to-do Eliza Stepanek wanders the streets aimlessly after her fiancé goes off to war. When she spots Sadie hiding beneath a grate in the street, she decides to help her, and the two form a friendship that faces the most difficult of tests.
‘People We Meet on Vacation’ by Emily Henry (May 11, 2021)
If you loved Emily Henry’s aptly named Beach Read, get ready for another sizzling romance that will thaw your cold heart. Poppy and Alex are total opposites and best friends. They have a tradition of taking a trip together every summer, until two years ago, when it all went to sh*t. With her life going downhill, Poppy decides to throw one final Hail Mary and convinces Alex to take another vacation with her. Is a week long enough to fix everything that went wrong with them?
‘The Hunting Wives’ by May Cobb (May 21, 2021)
ATTN anyone who loves Big Little Lies, Mean Girls, and Desperate Housewives: May Cobb’s upcoming suspense novel is for you. Sophie O’Neill moves from her big-city life in Chicago to a small town in east Texas with her husband and young son. Looking for a little more excitement, Sophie meets Margot Banks, who is a part of an elite clique known as the Hunting Wives. She immediately feels drawn toward Margot and her mysterious world full of late-night adventures and reckless partying… until she lands in the middle of a murder investigation. Suddenly this group is not so fun.
‘Malibu Rising’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid (May 25, 2021)
Author of the sensation Daisy Jones and the Six is back with a new novel about four famous siblings who throw an end-of-summer party where the roof is on fire… literally. Told over the span of one unforgettable night in August 1983, this novel has it all: love stories, secrets, sacrifices, and much more.
‘The Maidens’ by Alex Michaelides (June 1, 2021)
From the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes the latest tale of suspense from Alex Michaelides. Mariana Andros knows the charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge, Edward Fosca, is a murderer. Except he’s untouchable—he even has a secret society of female admirers called The Maidens. When another body turns up, Mariana becomes determined to expose who Andros really is, no matter the cost.
‘The Other Black Girl’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1, 2021)
When two young Black women get jobs in publishing, the resulting novel is like The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out. 26-year-old Nella is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner books, and when Hazel starts working next to her, it seems like a dream come true—until Hazel is promoted and Nella is left behind. Then Nella starts getting notes on her desk urging her to leave Wagner. It seems like obvious sabotage from Hazel, but as Nella starts investigating, she realizes there’s a lot more at stake than just her job.
‘Razorblade Tears’ by S.A. Cosby (July 6, 2021)
On the surface, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee have little in common. They’re both ex-cons, and when their sons get married, they become in-laws (who struggle to accept their sons’ relationship). When their sons are murdered, Ike and Buddy must move past their differences in order to figure out what happened.
‘Mona at Sea’ by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (June 30, 2021)
Mona Mireles is a millennial perfectionist who nonetheless finds herself unemployed, living with her parents, and single at the height of the recession in 2008. This isn’t a gripping page-turner, but it’s a witty and relatable read—perfect for vacation or the beach (provided we can go there in summer 2021).
Images: @laurachouette / Unsplash
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
It’s spooky szn, but what really is spooky szn when we have been living in a real-life horror show for the past 10 months? I don’t know, but I’m the type of person who is finding comfort from reading murder mysteries and other similar thrillers in these trying times. What does that say about me? It’s unclear. Have I uttered that exact phrase before? Probably, it’s been a long year. If you, like me, seek comfort from IRL horror in more fictional horror, then these are the spooky reads you need to check out this October.
‘The Inugami Curse’ by Seishi Yokomizo
August 18, 2020
This classic murder mystery features Japan’s best-loved detective and is by one of the country’s top crime writers, so you can trust it will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s set in 1940s Japan after the head of the wealthy Inugami clan dies. As his family awaits the reading of the will, a series of strange and gruesome murders begins. Detective Kindaichi has to, obviously, figure out WTF is going on. That pursuit of the truth will uncover forbidden liaisons, hidden identities, and more.
‘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. But it gets personal when heroin enters into the reservation and finds its way to Virgil’s nephew. So what do you do? Infiltrate the dealers, find the supplier—I mean, find out where the drugs are coming from and 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 his identity.
‘Don’t Ever Forget’ by Matthew Farrell
September 1, 2020
Farrell’s last novel, I Know Everything, came out in 2019, and I still think about it, that’s how much the ending shook me. So I had to include his latest, Don’t Ever Forget, on this list. Police investigator Susan Adler is called to the scene of a roadside murder of a state trooper. Dashboard cam footage leads her to a nurse, who has been missing for days along with an elderly patient. A peek inside the elderly patient’s house reveals evidence from two cold cases involving missing children. Talk about a rabbit hole. Of course, nothing is as it seems, people turn up dead, and it’s a race against the perp, who does not want to be discovered.
‘One Step Behind’ by Lauren North
September 1, 2020
And now we’ve reached the “me recommending authors I’ve recommended before” section of this article. But hey, if you know something is good, then why stray from it? Best to lean in. I first got into Lauren North with The Perfect Son, a twisty tale about a woman stuck in the hospital, racing to figure out what happened to her son, who’s gone missing on his 8th birthday. In One Step Behind, Jenna—wife, mother, doctor—is the victim of a stalker. Sh*t gets crazy when her stalker is brought into the ER and Jenna has to treat him. Hold up, do they not have procedures in place to protect against that kind of thing? In any case, Jenna is desperate to understand the man who’s been making her life hell, and when she goes through his phone, she finds some startling images that lead her down a winding road of destruction.
‘When No One Is Watching’ by Alyssa Cole
September 1, 2020
Yes, I’ve written about this before, yes I’m featuring it again! It’s been written about everywhere, so you really need to add it to your list. It follows Sydney Green, a girl who’s born and raised in a Brooklyn neighborhood that’s rapidly gentrifying. She meets her neighbor Theo, and the two become interested in the neighborhood’s history. That leads them to realize that maybe the push to “revitalize” their community might be more deadly than it seems… or have they completely lost it? Can Sydney and Theo find out the truth before they too “go to live in the suburbs”?
‘The Sundown Motel’ by Simone St. James
September 1, 2020
Author of the chilling The Broken Girls (2018) has a new thriller out in paperback this September. It takes place in the small town of Fell, a town that seems to have a problem with girls winding up dead. There was the murder of Cathy Caldwell, who was found under an overpass, and Victoria Lee, who was killed and found along a jogging trail. A similar crime brings Carly Kirk to Fell: the disappearance of her aunt Viv. Carly is determined to return to Fell, stay in the same Sun Down Motel her aunt Viv worked the night shift at, and find out what happened to her. You’ll be on the edge of your seat with this one.
‘GROWN’ by Tiffany D. Jackson
September 15, 2020
I literally still think about Jackson’s 2018 thriller Monday’s Not Coming, so I simply must add her latest to the spooky season reading list. GROWN tackles themes like abuses of power and the dark sides of the entertainment industry. In this ripped-from-the-headlines mystery, legendary R&B artist Korey Fields plucks Enchanted Jones from obscurity, promising to make her a star. Until Korey ends up dead, and Enchanted finds herself with no memory of what happened and his blood on her hands—literally. Did she kill Korey? If not, who did?
‘And Now She’s Gone’ by Rachel Howzell Hall
September 22, 2020
Grayson Sykes has been tasked with finding Isabel Lincoln, who may or may not want to be found. Is she missing, or is she just trying to start over? P.I. Sykes attempts to figure this out while tracking down Lincoln. Her search uncovers a number of secrets that become more dangerous at every turn—not to mention, Sykes has secrets of her own.
‘Dancing With The Octopus’ by Debora Harding
September 22, 2020
This is actually just true crime, so I included it for the real fans. Harding’s memoir is being compared to Tara Westover’s Educated, and it starts in 1978, when Debora Harding was abducted at knifepoint from a church parking lot at just 14 years old. Harding was then thrown into a van, assaulted, held for ransom, then left out to die during an ice storm. Miraculously, she survived and led police to her attacker. Decades later, she did something even more unbelievable: she met her attacker face-to-face in prison.
‘The Nesting’ by C.J. Cooke
September 29, 2020
I don’t even tend to like supernatural thrillers, but this one pulled me in right away. It has a little bit of everything: Norse mythology, ghosts, an element of fraud, and more that I don’t want to spoil. In it, Lexi, a young woman battling her own demons, becomes a nanny in rural Norway for a family who just experienced a devastating loss. Lexi is hiding her own secrets, as is the house she and the family are living in, and soon she’ll discover that maybe the tragic family loss wasn’t what it seemed.
‘Goodnight Beautiful‘ by Aimee Molloy
October 13, 2020
When I tell you I couldn’t predict the ending of this one, that should say something. This novel had at least three twists that caught me completely off-guard. Sure, I could be going soft, or Molloy could just be that good. Dr. Sam Statler, a hot therapist, has gone missing after a storm. But let’s rewind: we begin with Annie Potter, who isn’t super thrilled to leave her life in NYC behind 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, and even the most avid thriller readers won’t predict these surprises.
‘Scavenger: A Mystery’ by Christopher Chambers
October 13, 2020
In Washington, D.C., a Black man living in a homeless camp near the Smithsonian is framed for the murder of two of his closest friends. He faces life in prison. But when he meets an ex-Homeland Security Secretary, things start turning around. Sort of. He can avoid the life sentence—if he helps the former government official find a missing woman using the network of the streets and the underground world of undocumented immigrants.
‘A Will To Kill’ by R.V. Raman
October 20, 2020
This one is a fun, suspenseful read that’s perfect for fans of Knives Out or Agatha Christie. Aging Indian patriarch Bhaskar Fernandez wants to reunite his relatives (who all low-key hate each other), so he invites them out to a remote manor that’s rumored to be haunted, and where a few people have suddenly met an untimely death. The fun part? Bhaskar knows his family wants him dead so they can inherit his fortune, so he prepares two wills—the one he uses depends on how he dies.
‘Plain Bad Heroines’ by Emily M. Danforth
October 20, 2020
This queer gothic horror comedy brings the spooky without keeping you up at night. This story-within-a-story begins in 1902 at a cursed all-female boarding school in New England, where two students, Flo and Clara, start a private club called the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They are later found mysteriously dead. Over the next five years, three more people are found dead on the property, and the school closes for good. Over 100 years later, the school ends up back in the collective consciousness when a writer publishes a book celebrating the “haunted and cursed” school. That book becomes a movie, and the actresses cast revisit the school to start filming… which is when weird things start happening.
‘Little Cruelties’ by Liz Nugent
November 10, 2020
Already a #1 bestseller in Ireland and a most-anticipated thriller by CrimeReads and Crime by the Book, Nugent’s upcoming novel is one you’ll want to pick up. It begins with a funeral: all three Drumm brothers are there, but one is in a coffin. Which brother is dead? Who is guilty? If you liked Succession, you’ll get sucked into this cautionary tale of how sinister impulses can corrupt a family.
‘Little Threats’ by Emily Schultz
November 10, 2020
Fans of Andrea Bartz’s The Lost Night and Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim will find a perfect match in Little Threats, because of the blackout-induced amnesia plotline and the meta true crime elements. You’ll see what I mean: Kennedy and Carter Wynn are two rebellious twin sisters whose lives are torn apart as teenagers when their best friend Haley is found murdered after a night of partying. With no other leads, Kennedy enters a guilty plea and spends 15 years in prison. Once she gets out, a crime show host comes around asking questions, believing Kennedy may not have committed the murder. *Oprah voice* so what is the truth?
‘The Lady Upstairs’ by Halley Sutton
November 17, 2020
As someone who has gone on too many bad dates with men, the premise of this book is a littleeee too relatable for me. It’s centered on Jo, who makes a living blackmailing the skeeviest and most powerful men in LA—think dirty cops, handsy Hollywood producers, you know the type. Jo is eager to prove herself to her enigmatic boss, known only as The Lady Upstairs. When one of Jo’s targets is murdered, Jo finds herself on a short list of suspects. To avoid prison time she has to pull off one last job—her biggest target yet.
Images: @greystorm / Unsplash
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