I have not read quite as many books as I did last year by this point, but I have been prioritizing reading again a bit lately so I’ve flown threw a couple of books that I wanted to share. It’s rare that I loved every book in the lot, but this was one of those groups. I have some of my favorite authors featured here as well as a new-to-me author, so let’s dive in!
Synopsis: It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva. The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth. Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.
Would I Recommend It: I am a TJR stan, as I’ve read a lot of her books, and this was no different. While it wasn’t my favorite of hers, it was a book that I did not want to put down. I loved the layers of every character and the ending was satisfying. There were some cheeky nods to some of her other characters which were expertly woven in. I would recommend Seven Husbands and Daisy Jones before this, but I did enjoy this as much as One True Loves.
Synopsis: The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center – a women’s reproductive health services clinic – its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage. After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his 15-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic. But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order to save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester, disguised as a patient, who now stands in the crosshairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard. Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.
Would I Recommend It: This is a classic “take hold of you” Picoult book. I could not put this down and I was sobbing by the end. I think both sides of the pro-life/pro-choice spectrum should read this. There is meaty and important dialogue and I was an absolute wreck when I put this down. Picoult’s books are well-researched and present real-life stories in a way that hammers home how close these topics hit for so many of us. If you are a JP fan, add this to the top of your list. While I don’t know if this is quite the level of Small Great Things [one of my all-time favorites, not even just of hers], it’s definitely up there.
Synopsis: Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Would I Recommend This: I devoured this! The Emily Henry hype is real. These books are saccharine but believable, and you just cannot put them down! I heard this is becoming a movie and I can’t wait. If you need a good palette cleanser between thrillers, I highly recommend this.
Synopsis: Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling. She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died. She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t. She doesn’t know Archie has a secret. A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…
Would I Recommend It: Mike’s stepmom turned me onto this author [last read here] and this was another one that did not disappoint! These are fairly quick and twisty reads, and I love that the author doesn’t reveal the twist until the very end. It keeps you guessing and I truly didn’t see this ending coming! If you like thrillers, definitely check her out.
Synopsis: Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day, out flying his kite with his sister Rose. Two days later, he is found dead. Sixteen years on, Rose still blames herself for Billy’s death. How could she have failed to protect her little brother? Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma, and one of the few people she trusts is her neighbour Ronnie, who she has known all her life. But one day Ronnie falls ill, and Rose goes next door to help him… and what she finds in his attic room turns her world upside down. Rose thought she knew the truth about what happened to Billy. She thought she knew her neighbour. Now the only thing she knows is that she is in danger.
Would I Recommend It: When I first started this, I thought it was going to end similarly to another book I did not like at all, but wow, was I wrong! This was another gripping thriller that kept me guessing until the end. I didn’t see this one coming, either, and my jaw dropped. I will say, her books do come with a trigger warning [as do all thrillers], but this one was pretty heavy on grooming, so just FYI on that. But, it was a really suspenseful and satisfying read.
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