We can’t think of a better way to spend the summer months than basking in the sun with a page-turning read in hand. From lighthearted beach reads to eerie suspense novels, there’s no story too outlandish to take up our much-deserved extra hours of daylight. Between June and August, our editorial team has been devouring book after book, and we’ve chosen a few of our favorites to share with our readers before the summer sun sets.
Holly’s Pick: No matter the season, a captivating suspense novel is always a good idea. On first glance at the cover, THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN appears to be a picturesque read to match my preferred outdoor reading space. But once I cracked the pages, I realized the story was a lot more sinister and twisty than I could have imagined. Picture this: You’re living in a lush communal garden where all children can run free. But things are not as safe as they appear to be. When Pip finds her 13-year-old sister lying unconscious and bloody in the garden, every neighbor becomes a suspect. Lisa Jewell is a fantastic writer, and I loved devouring this book during the hot summer days.
One of People’s, Glamour’s, and Buzzfeed's Best Reads of Summer, from the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone
“Jewell expertly builds suspense by piling up domestic misunderstandings and more plot twists than an SVU episode. It’s a page-turner for readers who like beach reads on the dark side.” —People
“Faithful to the thriller genre, Jewell makes liberal use of red herrings and plot twists… The answer to the whodunit is a sly—and satisfying—surprise.” —The New York Times
“Full of suspense yet emotionally grounded…Fans of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Carla Buckley will adore this peek inside a gated community that truly takes care of its own, no matter the consequences." —Booklist (starred review)
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Sarah’s Pick: Any words I might use to describe this incredible memoir pale in comparison to Kiese Laymon’s gorgeous, thought-provoking writing. Laymon launches readers into his Mississippi childhood, strewn with complicated relationships and vivid settings, an undertow of a boy wondering how and what is expected from him. He examines his mother’s role in shaping his early life, the experiences and abuses that permeate, and the secrets that become lodged elsewhere until finally broken. Laymon’s is a voice that needs to be heard, and HEAVY is a must-read.
Hannah’s Pick: I was just 15 pages into EUPHORIA by Lily King when knew it was something special. The words completely sparkle, and the characters lift right off the page. Based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, it follows three young anthropologists who fall into a love triangle as they embed themselves with indigenous tribes in the Territory of New Guniea during the 1930s. While they try to make new discoveries, they’ll also have to sacrifice quite a bit in order to succeed and achieve their goals. It’s an enchanting, emotional, deep read that will stick with me for years.
The engine that propels this juicy, smart novel is desire—sexual and intellectual, essential and existential.
Sarah Jane’s Pick: I could not put down this quirky, hilarious, heartfelt story about Arthur Less, a middle-aged mediocre novelist who just received an invitation to his ex-lover’s wedding. It would be awkward to decline but also awkward (and painful) to attend. So instead, he accepts invitations he had been ignoring from writers’ conferences, awards ceremonies, and residencies all over the world. What follows is a months-long whirlwind journey—but Less can’t run forever from facing the man he is still in love with. It made me laugh and cry, and the last sentence was one of the most perfect and satisfying I’ve read in a long time.
Holly’s Pick #2: This was by far my favorite book that I read this summer and perhaps the best book I’ve read in years. THIS TENDER LAND follows the lives of four children who have escaped the confines of a Native American boarding school and traverse the Mississippi by canoe in search of a better life. After orphan Odie O’Banion finds himself in trouble with the Lincoln School’s superintendent, he and his friends make the decision to flee the cruel school that Native Americans have been forcibly sent to. During the children’s journey, they meet various characters across the unique American landscape marked by the Great Depression. This incredibly captivating read is littered with poetic descriptions and provides an insightful look at personal faith and self-purpose.
For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, “a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones” (Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author) that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.
1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.
Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an enthralling, big-hearted epic that is “more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home” (Booklist).
Holly’s Pick #3: After taking a short sabbatical from her demanding OB-GYN job at a prestigious hospital, Diana uses this time to grieve her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend. As she is attempting to get her life in order, she uncovers a box of letters addressed to her grandmother from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, whom Diana has always believed had died in World War II. Dated in the 1940s, these letters reveal otherwise. On top of this discovery, Diana learns that she has surviving family in the Philippines. Determined to reconnect with both her family and herself, Diana embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love.
The author of The Key to Happily Ever After—“a true gem filled with heart, laughs, and a cast of delightful characters” (Nina Bocci, USA TODAY bestselling author)—returns with a heartwarming and charming novel about a woman who travels to the Philippines to reconnect with her long-lost family…and manages to find herself along the way.
Diana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.
Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.
Infused with Tif Marcelo’s signature “sexy, adorable, and heartfelt” (Kate Meader, USA TODAY bestselling author) voice, Once Upon a Sunset is a moving and lyrical celebration of love, family, and second chances.
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