Did you catch us on Facebook Live? Amy, Maddie, and Tolani sat down to talk about their favorite reads of the summer—lots of suspense, some engrossing fiction, and a few reads that will transport you to another time and place (you know, if you’re opting for a staycation this year). Here are some of the books they discussed.
If anyone knows how to craft a good modern thriller, it’s Ruth Ware. I’ve torn through all her books, and my all-time favorite is THE LYING GAME. A sleepy English coastal town, a boarding school, a female friend group with dark secrets…I am so in. Beckoned back to their high school town by an old friend, three women—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—are thrust back into their past exploits, which ended with a mysterious expulsion from Salten, the boarding school where they all became friends. As the narrative unwinds, alternating between past and present, we learn how deep the secrets really go in this quiet town on the English Channel. A perfect thriller for summer, this will leave you totally stunned by the last page.
This book was recommended to me again, and again (and again by like five more people after that). I love a good horror romance read while I’m lying out on the beach or trying to pass the time after my flight gets delayed for the fifth time, and THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE is the perfect book to keep you on the edge of your seat. I spent my summers bouncing around from summer camps to sleepovers and back again. Most of those sleepovers were spent staying up way too late, eating (definitely way too much cookie dough), and watching any number of teen slasher movies that my friends and I could get our hands on. This YA book brings back the same hair-raising feeling of those perfect summer nights.
Many, many years ago I spent a summer in Nigeria to visit family and see the country. Visiting the city of Lagos was an experience I’ll never forget. Looking at the vibrant (but anxiety-inducing) cover of Chibundu Onuzo’s debut novel, WELCOME TO LAGOS, I’m reminded of the city’s thick humid air and how the streets hummed with the bustling of vendors and patrons. As someone who didn’t grow up in the country, it’s so refreshing to read contemporary Nigerian-lit and connect with my culture. This novel paints a portrait of Lagos and the types of people you might meet there. Featuring a band of misfit runaways trying to escape to lives bubbling with opportunity, WELCOME TO LAGOS manages to keep engulfed in the wonder of the city with gorgeous language and unforgettable characters.
What would happen is everyone’s water just stopped running? How long would we last and what would we do to survive? This is the central question in Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s DRY, a YA environmental horror thriller that follows a group of teens trying to survive a massive drought in California. A ragtag group of teens made up of the average suburban kids, Alyssa and Garrett, emotionally distant badass, Jacqui, and the son doomsday prepper-esque survivalists, Kelton. This is such a successful dystopian take because it’s really not that insane of a scenario. The taps turn off and just losing access to water drives people to monstrous possibilities. It’s such a smart and timely idea, and the Shusterman duo have absolutely nailed it. Grab your shades and the biggest iced tea you can find, because this book will make you thirsty.
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
This book had been on my (and many others’) TBR lists for a while. But this sweeping historical fiction/fantasy novel truly does take the reader on a mystical journey throughout ancient Scotland. If you can’t book a flight to this enchanted place, you can, at the very least, pick up a copy of Signe Pike’s THE LOST QUEEN. This is the perfect summer read for anyone who craves adventure, history, and mythology.
Okay, so I have a confession. I have never read a Ruth Ware novel… before now. In the summer months I go through bouts of business and lethargy, which makes it easy to fall into a reading slump. I needed something that would grip me immediately. Ruth Ware’s sophomore novel, THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, begins with a break-in that rattles the protagonist Lo to her core. Things only get stranger from there when Lo boards a luxury cruise and asks her neighbor—the woman in cabin 10—if she could borrow her mascara. The second the mascara made its appearance in the novel, I couldn’t help but think of Stu’s very succinct and cautionary “5 Second Summary”: Don’t borrow mascara. Let’s just say maybe we should take this warning to heart.
A romance/thriller set in the Chicago theater scene? Sign. Me. Up. Following Kira as she finds herself the star of the new play by controversial director Malcolm Mercer and his theater’s cofounder, Joanna, TEMPER explodes into a twisting tale of sex, lies, and ambition. Told from the alternating perspectives of Kira and Joanna, the two women explore their relationship with Malcolm and uncover disturbing truths about him and each other. Power struggles, romantic entanglements, and pushing psychological boundaries create the perfect storm, which ends with a single shocking wave. As a massive fan of both theater and thrillers, this brilliant blend of the two instantly became one of my favorite novels of the summer.
For fans of the high-stakes tension of the New York Times bestsellers Luckiest Girl Alive and The Lying Game, a razor-sharp page-turner about female ambition and what happens when fake violence draws real blood…
After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—onstage and off.
Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder Joanna Cuyler is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic aspirations, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they're capable of themselves.
An edgy, addictive, and fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deceit, and power, Temper is a timely, heart-in-your-throat psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.
Again, there is something about summer nights on the beach or by a fire that make me nostalgic, which is why THE RULES OF MAGIC is a must on my summer reading list. Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC was and will always be a favorite of mine, and THE RULES OF MAGIC brings the reader back into the lives of the Owens family. This time, however, we get to follow Franny and Jet, the famed aunts from PRACTICAL MAGIC, as they fall in love and discover who they are meant to be. I have always loved magical realism stories, and Alice Hoffman always delivers the perfect amount of whimsy and heartbreak.
We’ve all become engrossed in the numerous frauds that have been revealed in the headlines. I, myself, have watched both Fyre Festival documentaries and the HBO Elizabeth Holmes documentary with shameless fascination. “Con Artist Chronicles” is a new genre, I want all of it. MY FRIEND ANNA is my newest obsession in this vein. Vanity Fair editor Rachel DeLoache Williams meets a new friend, Anna Delvey, an heiress who introduces her to a world of luxurious parties and lavish trips… but there’s something not quite right with Anna. And when Rachel discovers she’s more than $62,000 in credit card debt—which Anna swore she’d reimburse—Rachel realizes, a bit too late, Anna was not who she said she was.