Just when we thought our summer lineup was all set, July’s new releases have us buried in books once again. But we’re not complaining—instead, we’re bringing you all down with us. These page-turners will help you put the finishing touches on your TBR list, and keep your summer full of adventure, charm, and stacks upon stacks of books.
Holly’s Pick: Fans of Kristin Harmel are in for a harrowing story with her newest novel, THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS. This vivid novel set in World War II follows one young woman with a keen sense of knowledge of the wilderness. After being stolen from her parents in Germany and raised in the wilderness of eastern Europe, Yona suddenly finds herself alone in 1941 after the woman who kidnapped and raised her dies. But her solitude does not last long. After happening upon a group of Jews fleeing from the Nazis, Yona vows to teach them everything she knows about surviving the treacherous forest, despite their skepticism of her trustworthiness. This is a heartbreaking story based on a real event during the Nazi era.
The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.
After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.
Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).
Emily’s Pick #1: The idea around Karen Hawkins’s Dove Pond series is genius. Set in the fictional small southern town of Dove Pond, each book features a glimmer of magic in the mundane. In the first book, THE BOOK CHARMER, the local librarian can sense the perfect book for a reader. In this second book, which also serves as a standalone, the teas at the local tea shop have been conjuring up some abnormal side effects—producing truth tellers, strange dreams, and more. While Ava Dove, the owner of the tearoom, sets out to find the remedy, other people in the town sort out problems of their own. The story alternates between Ava, Ellen—a grieving architect who is preparing to sell her recently deceased daughter’s house—and Ellen’s granddaughter Kristen who desperately wants to stay in Dove Pond.
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins returns to her beloved Dove Pond series with another “mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author)—but this time, the magic is in the tea leaves.
Ava Dove—the sixth of the seven famed Dove sisters and owner of Ava Dove’s Landscaping and Specialty Teas—is frantic.
Just as her fabulous new tearoom is about to open, her herbal teas have gone wonky. Suddenly, her sleep-inducing tea is startling her clients awake with vivid dreams, her romance-kindling tea is causing people to blurt out their darkest secrets, and her anti-anxiety tea is making them spend hours staring into mirrors. Ava is desperate for a remedy, but her search leads her into dangerous territory, as she is forced to face a dark secret she’s been hiding for over a decade.
Meanwhile, successful architect Ellen Foster has arrived in Dove Pond to attend the funeral of her estranged daughter, Julie. Grieving deeply, Ellen is determined to fix up her daughter’s ramshackle house, sell it, and then sweep her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Kristen, off to a saner, calmer life in Raleigh. But Kristen has other plans. Desperate to stay with her friends in Dove Pond, Kristen sets off on a quest she’s avoided her whole life—to find her never-been-there father in the hopes of winning her freedom from the grandmother she barely knows.
Together, Ava, Kristen, and Ellen embark on a reluctant but magical journey of healing, friendship, and family that will delight fans of Alice Hoffman, Kate Morton, and Sarah Addison Allen.
Molly’s Pick: The book I’m most looking forward to reading this year is WHILE WE WERE DATING by Jasmine Guillory. The sixth and final novel in The Wedding Date series, WHILE WE WERE DATING follows Ben Stephens (brother of Theo from THE WEDDING PARTY), an ad executive who finds himself working on a major campaign with rising movie star Anna Gardiner. What starts as lighthearted flirtation takes a serious turn, and Ben must decide whether he’s ready for a relationship in the spotlight. Jasmine Guillory’s novels are always smart, sexy, and charming—I’m sure WHILE WE WERE DATING will be a perfect summer treat, made even more appetizing due to Guillory’s amazing food descriptions. I pre-ordered my copy months ago and can’t wait for it to get here.
Jordyn’s Pick: If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware’s or Lisa Jewell’s books, then THE OTHER PASSENGER should be next on your list! This story fits so perfectly with those other writers’ thrillers, given its sense of foreboding and tension throughout. Jamie’s commuting buddy Kit has gone missing, and now the police want to question Jamie after finding out the two had a fight during their ferry ride the day before Kit disappeared. But Jamie had nothing to do with the disappearance, so why does he feel like he’s in danger? This had me reading into the night to figure out what was happening!
The “queen of the sucker-punch twist” (Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author) and author of Our House weaves “a stunning masterwork of style and suspense” (Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author) about a commuter who becomes a suspect in his friend’s mysterious disappearance. Perfect for fans of the unputdownable page-turners by Christina McDonald and Lisa Jewell.
It all happens so quickly. One day you’re living the dream, commuting to work by ferry with your charismatic neighbor Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn’t turned up for the boat and his wife, Melia, has reported him missing.
When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends—ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?
No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.
Heather’s Pick #1: For longtime fans of the Temperance Brennan series and Bones television show, Kathy Reichs’ THE BONE CODE is the obvious choice for vacation reading. This twentieth installment in Tempe’s story finds the forensic anthropologist traveling from South Carolina to Montreal as part of a murder investigation that’s eerily similar to a cold case from 15 years ago. Time is of the essence, too, because the victims she’s trying to identify may somehow be connected to the emergence of a flesh-eating disease that’s terrifying public health officials. Pair this hotly anticipated read with a frosty beverage to have yourself an idyllic summer day.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her twentieth gripping novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, whose examinations, fifteen years apart, of unidentified bodies ignite a terrifying series of events.
On the way to hurricane-ravaged Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, Tempe receives a call from the Charleston coroner. The storm has tossed ashore a medical waste container. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Tempe recognizes many of the details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she travels to Montreal to gather evidence.
Meanwhile, health authorities in South Carolina become increasingly alarmed as a human flesh-eating contagion spreads. So focused is Tempe on identifying the container victims that, initially, she doesn’t register how their murders and the pestilence may be related. But she does recognize one unsettling fact. Someone is protecting a dark secret—and willing to do anything to keep it hidden.
An absorbing look at the sinister uses to which genetics can be put, and featuring a cascade of ever-more-shocking revelations, The Bone Code is Temperance Brennan’s most astonishing case yet—one that gives new meaning to today’s headlines.
Emily’s Pick #2: I’ve seen this book compared to THE POPPY WAR, THE SONG OF ACHILLES, and Mulan and so, as a fan of all three, I can’t wait to read this one! And all the incredible hype and buzz around this book is getting me even more excited, if that's even impossible. Adding a twist to the history of the Ming Dynasty rise in 1345, this story follows a girl who takes the place of her twin brother after he dies. She sets out on his destined path to greatness, enters a monastery to become a Buddhist monk, and winds up eventually becoming a rebel army commander, plotting to overthrow the Mongol rule. This book promises exciting action sequences, while also providing an enlightening reimagining of a past that's under-explored in literature these days.
Sara’s Pick: The final girl trope is a staple of the horror genre: the pure, good-hearted young woman who manages to brave every terror and take down every challenge to make it to the end of the nightmare. . . or at least the credits. But then what happens? That's the story behind horror author Grady Hendrix's latest novel, THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP. Lynnette Tarkington survived a horrific massacre and has the trauma to prove it. The only way she makes it through is her support group, where she, five other unfortunate women, and their therapist try to piece their lives back together. However, when one of these final girls goes missing, it looks like they'll have to survive yet another sinister series of events at the hands of those who mean to do them harm. But whoever their would-be assailant might be, they aren't counting one major truth: final girls never say die.
Emily’s Pick #3: Dorothy Kirwan Thomas’s true life story is remarkable. With fierce determination and entrepreneurial skills, Dorothy rose out of slavery to become a wealthy landowner in the West Indies. ISLAND QUEEN depicts this unconventional narrative, and how Dorothy had to overcome so much sexism and racism, outsmarting all the other oppressors who tried to keep her from climbing the social ladder. Well-researched, and full of harrowing turmoils and amazing character development that makes the triumphs that much more spectacular, ISLAND QUEEN is a fantastic July release and I must see a biopic of this asap.
Allie’s Pick: I love curling up with a new Megan Miranda thriller every year. Twisty and suspenseful, her stories always manage to be compulsively readable. This novel follows the residents of Hollow's Edge, an idyllic community that has become a nightmare after a couple was found murdered and one of the neighbors, Ruby, was implicated in their deaths. But when Ruby's conviction is overturned, she returns to Hollow's Edge, and suspicion begins to spread about who is guilty if Ruby is not.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest—a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection—comes a new riveting suspense novel about a mysterious murder in an idyllic and close-knit neighborhood.
We had no warning that she’d come back.
Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.
With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?
Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.
Pulsating with suspense and with the shocking twists that are Megan Miranda’s trademark, Such a Quiet Place is Megan Miranda’s best novel yet—a twisty locked-box thriller that will keep you turning pages late into the night.
Emily’s Pick #4: Especially after all the social isolating of the past year, I've begun to seek out heartwarming stories about strangers getting stuck in a room together, forced to sort out their differences until they eventually become fast friends. TOGETHER WE WILL GO takes that trope and adds a very dark twist (definite trigger warning). It’s definitely not a lighthearted, happy read, though it may make you laugh out loud at the absurdity of certain moments. After twelve disheartened strangers find each other through an ad, they decide they’re going to drive across country and drive off a cliff together. But day by day, as they approach their destination, they grow to care about each other and their mission fractures into those who want to live or die, love or leave.
The Breakfast Club meets The Silver Linings Playbook in this powerful, provocative, and heartfelt novel about twelve endearing strangers who come together to make the most of their final days, from New York Times bestselling and award-winning author J. Michael Straczynski.
Mark Antonelli, a failed young writer looking down the barrel at thirty, is planning a cross-country road trip. He buys a beat-up old tour bus. He hires a young army vet to drive it. He puts out an ad for others to join him along the way. But this will be a road trip like no other: His passengers are all fellow disheartened souls who have decided that this will be their final journey—upon arrival in San Francisco, they will find a cliff with an amazing view of the ocean at sunset, hit the gas, and drive out of this world.
The unlikely companions include a young woman with a chronic pain sensory disorder and another who was relentlessly bullied at school for her size; a bipolar, party-loving neo-hippie; a gentle coder with a literal hole in his heart and blue skin; and a poet dreaming of a better world beyond this one. We get to know them through access to their texts, emails, voicemails, and the daily journal entries they write as the price of admission for this trip.
By turns tragic, funny, quirky, charming, and deeply moving, Together We Will Go explores the decisions that brings these characters together, and the relationships that grow between them, with some discovering love and affection for the first time. But as they cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this is a novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it. The final, unforgettable moments as they hurtle toward the decisions awaiting them will be remembered for a lifetime.
Saimah’s Pick: Brinkley Saunders has been burned in the past—by her friends, her family and the guy she loved. She drops out of grad school and leaves the world of academia behind. Everyone thinks she works as an admin assistant for an insurance agency, but they don't know that she is actually a professional "heartbreaker". Through a service that specializes in revenge called Heartbreak for Hire, the heartbreakers will serve up revenge in their own specialized way– whether it's a jilted lover, an overstepping coworker, a frenemie, or a crazy roommate. All of the heartbreakers are women who were also burned in the past, but when her boss announces she's hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley feels betrayed again—especially when her newest co-worker also happens to be her most recent target, Mark. This steamy enemies-to-lovers romance is the perfect summer beach read!
A smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.
Brinkley Saunders has a secret.
To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.
But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.
With Sonia Hartl’s “bitingly funny” (Publishers Weekly) prose, Heartbreak for Hire is a clever romcom you and your girlfriends won’t be able to stop talking about.
Heather’s Pick #2: Who can resist a concept like “Speed, but in the air” or (in the words of author Don Winslow) “Jaws at 35,000 feet”? Not this reader! FALLING, by former flight attendant and debut author T.J. Newman, is the definition of a white-knuckle thriller. The book drops you into a terrifying but all-too-realistic scenario, one in which you’ve just learned that your pilot for a flight to New York is in a compromised position. As it turns out, his family was kidnapped mere minutes before boarding, and now he’s got exactly one choice: Crash a plane with you and 143 other passengers on board to save his family, or land the aircraft safely, knowing his family will be killed. I don’t know about you, but I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happens next....
“Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” —Don Winslow
“Falling is the best kind of thriller…Nonstop, totally authentic suspense.” —James Patterson
“Amazing...Intense suspense, shocks and scares...Chilling.” —Lee Child
“The perfect summer thriller. Relentlessly paced and unforgettable.” —Janet Evanovich
You just boarded a flight to New York.
There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.
What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.
For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.
The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.
Enjoy the flight.
Sharon’s Pick #1: THE STARTUP WIFE is high up on my summer TBR, as it is one of those rare books where, every time I think about it, I get excited to read it for a new reason. When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued because of the bright, graphic cover, and for its mind-bending premise: What if there was an app that could replace organized religion? That was already enough to pique my interest, but then I learned that THE STARTUP WIFE also delivers a satirical, feminist view of marriage and startup culture, and I knew that this was going to be one of my summer must-reads.
“Tahmima Anam deftly uses humor to explore both start-up culture and the institution of marriage in an utterly charming and genuinely thoughtful way.” —Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
Newlyweds Asha and Cyrus build an app that replaces religious rituals and soon find themselves running one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
Meet Asha Ray.
Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.
Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.
The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?
In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?
Sharon’s Pick #2: In the literary world, there’s an adage that states that some books are windows, and some are mirrors. I am excited for Emily Austin’s debut novel EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM WILL SOMEDAY BE DEAD because this book is not just a mirror, it’s a looking glass into my soul. Gilda, the book’s central protagonist, is a twentysomething atheist lesbian who can’t stop thinking about death. Seeking relief, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, where she unwittingly stumbles into a job as the church’s receptionist. As Gilda attempts to keep her life from crumbling around her, she begins to become obsessed with learning about the circumstances surrounding her predecessor’s death. Relatable and filled with deadpan humor, EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM WILL SOMEDAY BE DEAD is a warm, humorous observation on the human condition.
This hilarious and profound debut for fans of Mostly Dead Things and Goodbye, Vitamin, follows a morbidly anxious young woman—“the kindhearted heroine we all need right now” (Courtney Maum, New York Times bestselling author)—who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humor, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.
Photo credit: iStock / Avosb