It was a solid month of reading! 8 books. 7 of which are thrillers (the heart wants what the heart wants), plus a historical fiction gem. I really loved everything I read this month but if I had to really edit down the list, I would say (if you love thrillers/suspense as much as I do) that When We Were Bright and Beautiful and Hidden Pictures were the two can’t miss reads of the month. But truly, everything on the list is worth reading… it is a rare month where everything receives an A- or above!
As always, I also put these reviews in The Library, where you can easily search and filter (by “grade” or genre!). I update this page in real time!
Tell me what you are reading in the comments – I love love love your recommendations!
Everything I Read in August 2022
You’re Invited, by Amanda Jayatissa
This book was a wild ride. The book opens with Amaya being invited to her ex-best friend Kaavi’s over-the-top wedding in Sri Lanka. There are only a few hitches. Amaya and Kaavi haven’t spoken in years (we don’t know why but we know something bad happened) and the groom is Amaya’s ex-boyfriend. Kaavi is now a social media influencer (and the founder of a charity that helps underprivileged girls). Amaya becomes consumed with one thought: she must stop the wedding from happening. We have it all: an unreliable narrator, a glamorous locale, best friends turned enemies… I could go on. Things take a turn when Kaavi goes missing.
The book alternates between past, present, plus police transcripts. Kaavi is presumed dead and Amaya is the man suspect. But as we see throughout the book, Kaavi has made some other enemies and Amaya (as unlikeable as she is throughout a large chunk of the book) may not be to blame after all. I guessed part of the ending but tore through this in 24 hours… I needed to know what happened! Absolutely loved it. Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score A-
The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley
This book sat in my TBR pile for wayyyyy too long. I’m glad I finally picked it up and read it! Based on my DMs, this was a polarizing one. People either really loved it or just… hated it? I was of the camp of really loving it! I thought it was twisty and well written. And the plot felt really creative and fresh to me! I don’t want to tell you too much about it for fear of giving things away so I am going to keep the plot summary light.
A young woman (Jess) is in need of a fresh start. She flees to Paris to crash with her half brother Ben for a bit, only to find that maybe he’s got some secrets of his own. First of all, the apartment building he’s been living in is stunning and huge: how could Ben possibly have afforded this on his journalist salary!? Second, he seems to have gone missing. He’s nowhere to be found and has left his wallet, keys, and Vespa behind. Third, his neighbors are… interesting… and want absolutely nothing to do with Jess. As she digs into his disappearance and tries to figure out what has happened to him, secrets about the building and its residents begin to unwind.
When We Were Bright and Beautiful, by Jillian Medoff
First of all, I really loved this book. Loved might not be the right word: it is extremely dark. I read it in a single Sunday. Second, there is a pretty major content warning for sexual assault. But wow. This book. It was described to me as Gone Girl meets Gossip Girl which if you know me, makes for an absolute must read. The Quinn family is New York City royalty. Living in the historic Valmont building (described by the narrator as basically being ten mansions stacked on top of each other), the three kids want for nothing and have seemingly perfect lives. The best of everything… elite boarding schools and colleges, everything they could ever want. But when the youngest sibling, Billy is accused of sexual assault by his ex-girlfriend Diana, the perfect facade begins to crumble.
The book is narrated by the middle child, Cassie, who has secrets of her own. The family knows that Billy must be innocent: he’s their golden boy, he’d never go that far. But Cassie can’t understand why Diana would go so far to ruin his life. Meanwhile, Cassie has secrets of her own: an affair with a powerful married man. As the case goes to court, Cassie and her family are determined to do everything they can to protect Billy. Even if it means taking the stand and exposing their own darkest secrets. This one is really, really dark. But unputdownable. I felt sick at times. But I could not stop reading. I think this would make a great book club book (if everyone is okay with the content warning) as it would make for some pretty intense conversations afterward. Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A
Hidden Pictures, by Jason Rekulak
OK I loved this book. I usually reserve A+ ratings for more literary “good” books but this is my favorite thriller in a while. It was just… unputdownable! I stayed up all night as I needed to know what happened. It was twisty, it was dark, it even had a supernatural element. I don’t want to say too much more than that for fear of giving anything away (there are so many twists!) so here is a little plot synopsis.
Mallory is twenty years old and a recovering addict. At one point, she had her whole life ahead of her but we know that something bad enough happened to get her addicted to heroin. Fresh out of rehab, her sponsor gets her a job babysitting for an affluent family outside of Philadelphia. She loves her job. The child, Teddy, is a delight and she quickly bonds with the family. Plus, she has the stability she craves and after work she can focus on her running.
Things start to unravel as Teddy begins drawing very dark photos. A man dragging a woman’s body through the dirt. A woman being buried alive. As the stick figure drawings evolve into more elaborate drawings (that a 5 year old could never draw), Mallory is convinced that a spirit is channeling Teddy’s body to tell a story. But with her precarious background, will anyone believe her? This was SUCH a page turner. I loved it so much and want everyone to read it! Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A+
The Lion’s Den, by Katherine St John
This one came out in early 2021 and has been sitting in my TBR pile ever since. I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up, but I’m glad I did! I’ll also flag that this book would be the perfect summer beach read (not all thrillers are beach reads but this one, set aboard yacht in the Mediterranean) is perrrrfect for the beach. Belle is a struggling actress/bartender living in LA. When her glamorous (but gold digging) best friend Summer invites her on an all expenses paid cruise on her wealthy, MUCH older boyfriend’s yacht, of course she says yes. But as soon as they board his private jet, she realizes things are amiss.
Their passports are taken. John (Summer’s boyfriend) is extremely controlling. They realize they are being locked in their bedrooms at night. And Summer is not the friend she thought she was. Belle (and Summer’s other friends) begin to wonder if they will make it off this boat alive. This is fast paced and fun, I felt really lucky to have it with me when my flight was stuck on the runway for an extra two hours because of rain; it was the perfect distraction. I found it really enjoyable and I loved the ending! Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A-
Nothing More to Tell, by Karen M. McManus
If you have followed a while, you probably know that I am a big fan of Karen M. McManus’s books. While I don’t read much YA these days, I feel like she writes YA for adults. Books about teenagers behaving badly that adults will still really enjoy. You get that high school nostalgia, but it’s not cutesy or saccharine: instead there is a complex mystery.. riddled with suspense (that will keep even the most sharp-witted adult on the edge of their seat!). This might be my favorite of all her books!
Brynn left Saint Ambrose five years ago… just after the shocking murder of her favorite teacher. The story made headlines after the body was found by three students. Brynn has now moved home and has landed her dream internship for a true-crime show. She becomes fixated on the case and finding out what really happened to Mr. Larkin. But as she digs deeper (along with Tripp – her former close friend turned enemy turned maybe friend again – who was one of the students who found the body), secrets are unraveled. Was her favorite teacher who she thought he was? Is Tripp who he says he is? I loved this. Couldn’t put it down. The second half especially… I stayed up late to finish it which you know is a good sign! Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A-
The Prisoner, by B.A. Parris (Out 11/1/22)
I really loved Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (and sadly haven’t loved anything else she’s written quite as much The Therapist was good, The Dilemma was not). And then this came along. This is a true “read it in a day” thriller. And if you liked Behind Closed Doors as much as I did, I think you will really like this! I started it on my flight from Charleston to Atlanta, and finished it on the second flight from Atlanta to LA. I couldn’t put it down. It’s fast-paced and not very long.
Amelie has had a hard life but through determination and grit, pulled herself up from poverty into a comfortable life. Orphaned at age 17, she moves to London, determined to make it on her own and eventually go to college and study law. When she finds herself down on her luck and homeless, she meets a wealthy woman who takes her in and gives her a job and friendship. Four years later, she has a tight-knit group of friends and is working for a popular magazine. She’s also married to a handsome billionaire. A true rags to riches story. Until she is kidnapped. Kept in a pitch-black room, uncertain of who captured her (or why?).
And maybe most perplexing: why does she feel safer there than with her husband? This is a fun, fast read. Not out til November but well worth the pre-order… just be sure to clear a whole day to read it! Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A-
…and one Historical Fiction!
A Hundred Summers, by Beatriz Williams
This is kind of like… Historical fiction Gossip Girl? It’s a very fun summer read and had sat in my to-read pile for way too long (I think since living in Brooklyn, maybe!) Sad as Beatriz Williams is a favorite of mine. This is set in the 1930’s. Lily Dane has headed to summer at her family home in Seaview, RI. Her family has been going for years and it’s a refuge for her from New York’s social scene. She’s still reeling from a devastating heartbreak 7 years ago; and has kind of (in her twenties, mind you) committed to the spinster life – taking care of her younger sister and spending time with her family.
Her peaceful bliss is interrupted when her former best friend Budgie and her former fiancé Nick (now married!) also return to Seaview… and chaos erupts. When a massive hurricane strikes, family secrets come out, and all bets are off. I loved this. It was juicy and salacious but also glamorous in that Gatsby-ish kind of way. Definitely a must-read, I’m ashamed that it took me so long to read it. Order on Amazon or Bookshop. // Overall Score: A-