The most popular books of August include a healthy mix of summer bestsellers, old favorites, and upcoming fall books with all the buzz. The perfect list to help you hang on to the last few days of summer while also preparing for cozy season.
Of all the books coming out this fall, THE CLOISTERS by Katy Hays is the one I absolutely can’t wait to read. The story follows Ann Stillwell, a curatorial associate to The Cloisters Museum in NYC, who uncovers 15th-century tarot cards that seem to have some fortune-telling powers—and are therefore highly coveted by sinister divination scholars.
I’m a fan of The Cloisters, so I’m especially excited to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the gothic architecture, the artifacts within, and the surrounding gardens. Plus, the magical plot element of the tarot cards adds an extra level of intrigue to an already mysterious place with a lot of grand history (did I also mention the plot involves a murder?). THE CLOISTERS has such an element of familiarity for me, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
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The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
This captivating page-turner follows Trevor Riddell’s recollection of his childhood visit to the infamous Riddell House two decades prior, accompanied by his bankrupt father, newly separated from his wife. While his father sought to dispatch Trevor’s grandfather to a nursing home and sell off the house for profit, Trevor discovered a ghost in the house that pushed him towards a different agenda. With poetically beautiful scenes and fragments of spiritual clarity woven throughout the hidden stairways and forgotten rooms of the old estate, Stein’s storytelling is enthralling in A SUDDEN LIGHT.
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Lucy and Mickey had both given up on finding functional long-term relationships: Mickey, because of his bipolar diagnosis, and Lucy, because of her intense family history of breast cancer. But when they find each other, they can’t deny the bond they share. After years of making their marriage work—and making the tough decision not to have children—one routine doctor’s appointment changes everything. DANCING ON BROKEN GLASS is a poignant portrait of a marriage.
A powerfully written novel offering an intimate look at a beautiful marriage and how bipolar disorder and cancer affect it, Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock perfectly illustrates the enduring power of love.
Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn’t have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They’re both plagued with faulty genes—he has bipolar disorder, and she has a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy’s twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there’s no denying their chemistry.
Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work—and they put it all in writing. Mickey promises to take his medication. Lucy promises not to blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, they have good days and bad days—and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is.
An unvarnished portrait of a marriage that is both ordinary and extraordinary, Dancing on Broken Glass takes readers on an unforgettable journey of the heart.
When eighty-year-old Elise receives a parcel of letters written by her mother during World War II, she is spurred to uncover the story of Amanda Sternberg. Living in Berlin in the 1930s, Amanda is forced to flee with her two daughters after her husband is taken to a concentration camp. Following Amanda to the South of France and into a Nazi labor camp, THE DAUGHTER’S TALE is a story of insurmountable love, sacrifice, and survival based on the real-life massacre of a French village in 1944.
From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable, “searing” (People) saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls, We Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.
Seven decades of secrets unravel with the arrival of a box of letters from the distant past, taking readers on a harrowing journey from Nazi-occupied Berlin, to the South of France, to modern-day New York City.
Berlin, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the South of France. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is interrupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.
New York, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Her mother’s words unlock a floodgate of memories, a lifetime of loss un-grieved, and a chance—at last—for closure.
Based on true events and “breathtakingly threaded together from start to finish with the sound of a beating heart” (The New York Times Book Review), The Daughter’s Tale is an unforgettable family saga of love, survival, and redemption.
Emma is determined to finally confront her husband about his alcoholism, that is, until she discovers he has been in a fatal car crash. As she and her teenaged children attempt to rebuild their lives with the help of Emma’s two closest friends, Emma begins to uncover the shocking secrets about her husband’s last days, secrets that will change their lives forever. WISH YOU WERE GONE is a sinister domestic thriller perfect for fans of the friendship dynamics in Netflix’s Dead to Me.
This “captivating thriller full of twists and surprises” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author)—about what happens when the death of a husband and father isn’t the tragedy everyone believes—is perfect for fans of the Netflix original series Dead to Me.
Emma Walsh has finally worked up the courage to confront her husband James about his drinking—his alcoholic rages, his blackouts, and the fear his behavior has created for her and their two kids. But James never shows up to meet her as planned, and all her righteous words go unsaid. And unsaid they remain, because the next time Emma sees James, his body lies crumpled amidst the wreckage of his flashy car, which has been smashed to its final resting place halfway through the back wall of their suburban house’s roomy garage.
In the aftermath of the fatal crash, Emma and her teenage children begin to embrace life without James’s looming, volcanic presence. Buoyed by the support of her two closest friends, she struggles to deal with her grief, complicated by the knowledge that her husband’s legacy as an upstanding business owner and family man shines only because so many people, for so long, were so willing to keep his secrets—secrets that twist into new and unexpected shapes as the mysterious details of his last day of life begin to come to light.
A sinister and suspenseful domestic thriller, lauded as “stylish” by Publishers Weekly and “delicious” by Booklist, Wish You Were Gone will keep you guessing “until not just the last page, but the last paragraph” (Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author).
I have a soft spot for true crime and dark tales of the rich and powerful—so Truman Capote has long been a favorite author and society wit of mine. Though I’ve long heard of his infamous falling out with his New York City high society swans (Lee Radziwill, Slim Keith, Babe Paley, etc.), DELIBERATE CRUELTY is the full, decadent, catty, and ultimately tragic story. Transporting us to the glamorous, snobby, and sordid worlds of mid-century Manhattan high society and of book publishing, this is the ultimate read for anyone who loves true crime, literary history, and good old-fashioned gossip.
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This scintillating and glittery look at the darkly intertwined fates of infamous socialite Ann Woodward and literary icon Truman Capote sweeps us to the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society—where even the richest cannot escape murder and infamy.
When Ann Woodward shot her husband, banking heir Billy Woodward, in the middle of the night in 1955, her life changed forever. Though she claimed she thought he was a prowler, few believed the woman who had risen from charismatic showgirl to popular socialite. Everyone had something to say about the scorching scandal afflicting one of the most rich and famous families of New York City, but no one was more obsessed with the tale than Truman Capote.
Acclaimed for his bestselling nonfiction book In Cold Blood, Capote was looking for new material and followed the scandal from beginning to end. Like Ann, he too had ascended from nobody to toast of the town, but he always felt like an outsider, even among the exclusive coterie of high society women who adored him. He decided the story of Ann’s turbulent marriage would be the basis of his masterpiece—a novel about the dysfunction and sordid secrets revealed to him by his high society “swans”—never thinking that it would eventually lead to Ann’s suicide and his own scandalous downfall.
Page-turning and deliciously fascinating, Deliberate Cruelty is a haunting cross between true crime and literary history that is perfect for fans of Furious Hours, Empty Mansions, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
It always surprises friends when I tell them that John Irving is one of my favorite authors—probably because I’m such a big fan of epic fantasy. But there’s something about Irving’s writing—dark, quirky, compassionate—that makes the characters feel surreal. THE LAST CHAIRLIFT—his first novel in seven years—starts off by introducing us to a pregnant skier, known as Little Ray, who comes to raise her son, Adam, in a small New England town without his biological father in the picture but with a whole cast of eccentric characters guiding him through the nuances of growing up. Years later, when Adam goes to look for answers about his father at a hotel in Aspen, he meets ghosts, and carries the ghosts of those he’s known with him as well. This plot, which blends the magical and the real, is making me think this one might join THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP as one of my favorite John Irving books!
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John Irving, one of the world’s greatest novelists, returns with his first novel in seven years—a ghost story, a love story, and a lifetime of sexual politics.
In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor.
Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Last Chairlift, they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees.
John Irving has written some of the most acclaimed books of our time—among them, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules. A visionary voice on the subject of sexual tolerance, Irving is a bard of alternative families. In The Last Chairlift, readers will once more be in his thrall.
A moving novel of true love and early celebrity, MRS. HOUDINI follows the great magician’s widow as she discovers mysterious clues seemingly left by her husband in the afterlife. Whisking us from Coney Island to Budapest and beyond, this is an intriguing look into the private life of an icon.
To better understand why Harry Houdini still draws legions of devoted fans nearly a century after his death, check out the biography/cultural-exploration of his legacy in THE LIFE AND AFTERLIFE OF HARRY HOUDINI by Joe Posnanski.
“Richly lyrical and thought-provoking” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), this “stellar debut from a novelist to watch” (Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author) explores the passionate marriage of Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess—a love story that defied death itself.
Before escape artist Harry Houdini died, he vowed he would find a way to speak to his beloved wife, Bess, from beyond the grave using a coded message known only to the two of them. But when a widowed Bess begins seeing this code in seemingly impossible places, it becomes clear that Harry has an urgent message to convey. Unlocking the puzzle will set Bess on a course back through the pair’s extraordinary romance, which swept the illusionist and his bride from the beaches of Coney Island, to the palaces of Budapest, to the back lots of Hollywood. When the mystery finally leads Bess to the doorstep of a mysterious young photographer, she realizes that her husband’s magic may have been more than just illusion.
In surprising turns that weave through the uncertain days of the dawn of the twentieth century and continue into the dazzling 1920s, Mrs. Houdini is a “dazzling and enchanting” (Shelf Awareness, starred review) tale, “a marvel that gallops through time and space” (Associated Press), and a “mesmerizing reimagining” (People) of one of history’s greatest love stories.
If your romantic partner started working unusual hours, especially when there’s been a recent string of crimes, you might get suspicious, maybe even trail them to see where they’re going. Not Linda, though. While her husband, Terry, starts acting strange around the same time that several women go missing, Linda becomes obsessed with the mail coming for the previous tenant of her home, Rebecca, whom she believes to have a glamorous life. Dark, sinister, and headed in a direction you won’t see coming, A TIDY ENDING is sure to have you hooked on every page.
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From the bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, a delightfully sinister novel about a married woman living a nice, quiet suburban life—but things aren’t always what they seem…
Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.
Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.
If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever…
As a Constant Reader, there’s nothing more exciting for me than knowing a new Stephen King book is coming! FAIRY TALE is all of the things I love about Stephen King—special nod to Dark Tower fans! But if you haven’t read the master storyteller before (or in a while), I envy you. This is a magical place to start or pick back up. And speaking of magic, what could be more fantastic than a boy, his dog, and a parallel world—where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours. A starred review from Kirkus calls it, “A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.” In this new work full of suspense and mystery, let Stephen King take you into the depths of his imagination. You may not want to leave his conjured world, and you may never look at the moon, or a shed, the same way again. Book lovers—you just cannot miss this one!
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Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
Photo credit: iStock / Smitt