I read so much this month which felt really good. I have been on a major tidying/cleaning/purging kick so really forced myself to go through my book pile(s) and read things I’d bought a while ago, otherwise give them away/donate!
My favorite book far and away this month, was The Push. It is one of those creepy books (a la Verity) that really sticks with you! But at the opposite end of the spectrum, I also adored The Blue Bistro, which made me so nostalgic for my waitressing days (I grew up on Cape Cod and my parents owned a fine dining restaurant there… so from age 14-22 I worked nearly every night!). Lastly, Imposter Syndrome was really, really good. Besides being a fun and fast-paced psychological thriller I thought it was sharply written and did a great job capturing what it is like to be a woman in Silicon Valley/the tech world.
I love your recs!!! Please, in the comments, tell me what you’re reading / send any and all recommendations – I love getting them!!!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past six years. The best part is that now you can filter + search by genre. Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list! And, just in case you missed it… everything I read in 2020, ranked by genre.
EVERYTHING I READ IN June 2021
This month’s thrillers!
The Herd, by Andrea Bartz
This was a fun, fast-paced thriller that had me think that literally everyone involved committed the crime. Eleanor Walsh is the polished and put together founder of The HERd, an elite members-only coworking space for women. She seemingly has the perfect life. Two successful brands, a handsome and devoted husband, a close group of friends. But then: just as the company is going to make a major announcement, Eleanor vanishes. No one is entirely sure what to think. Did she flee the country? Was fowl play involved? A mysterious whodunnit arises.
Told from the perspectives of two sisters Hana (Eleanor’s best friend and head of The Herd’s PR) and Katie (a journalist who wants to secretly write a book about Eleanor’s life and the Herd), it’s fast and fun. The sisters (and Eleanor’s other close friend Mikki) try to figure out what happened to Eleanor, while also uncovering secrets they’ve been hiding from each other. I will say it goes a little off the rails at times, but I liked that it was twisty and kept me guessing. It wasn’t my perfect book but it held my attention. Order it on Amazon (I can’t find it on Bookshop!)
- Overall Score: B
Pretty Little Wife, by Darby Kane
I thought I was treating myself to a dumb cheesy thriller based on the title but NO. This is not a cheesy thriller at all, it’s very dark (TW: sexual assault, pedophlia, spousal abuse, murder). It’s part mystery (experienced through the lense of the detectives trying to solve the case) and part thriller (also told through the lense of the main character, who may or may not have attempted to kill her husband).
Lila Ridgefield is cold and unfriendly, with a horrible, traumatic past. When her husband Aaron disappears, she is the main suspect. But as girls in their quaint college town go missing, the investigators start to wonder if the disappearances are coincidences or somehow connected. Through the book secrets in Lila’s marriage unravel and we wonder if maybe Aaron deserved to disappear. This is twisty and fun. Kept me on my toes to the point where I read it in just a day or two! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: B
The Girls Are All So Nice Here, by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Oh, this is a DARK one, but delightfully dark. (TW: rape, suicide). This is the story of two former college best friends, Ambrosia (Ambs) and Sloane (Sully), returning to their college reunion. We know that these two have a past and that they did something really despicable, but we don’t know what. The book alternates between present day and their freshman year of college. Amb is now happily married, living in Manhattan, and working in public relations. But the two girls have a darker past and a toxic friendship. Magnetic Sully could influence Amb into doing just about anything.
Together, they did something terrible during their freshman year of college. And now, at their reunion, someone else knows… and wants to make them pay for what they did. This is very fast-paced and addictive – I couldn’t put it down and read it in under 24 hours. Highly recommend, if you love a twisty thriller the way that I do! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A-
Looker, by Laura Sims
I bought this book a couple years ago when it first came out – I think a few of you had recommended it to me, plus it had been on all sorts of lists (Vogue named it one of the best books of 2019). OK. It’s a short, but very creepy read. It’s told from an unnamed protagonist, living in Brooklyn. Her life is falling apart. She is involuntarily childless, and her husband has left her… living alone in a third floor walk-up with his cat. Meanwhile across the block, a beautiful famous actress lives. Her life seems perfect. Three beautiful children, a doting and handsome husband, a beautiful home and a full staff.
This book chronicles the narrator’s undoing. Her growing fascination with the actress, her desperation. It’s a fascinating look at how some people can seemingly have everything, while others… nothing. And it’s incredibly dark (and weirdly funny/entertaining at times), and left me very unsettled afterward. It’s a quick read but will stick with you! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: B
The Push, by Ashley Audrain
First of all, you must read this book. It’s my favorite thriller of the month and came so highly recommended by so many of you. But there are some trigger warnings. I would say to avoid if you’re suffering from post-partum anxiety or depression, or will be triggered by anything relating to bad parenting (physical, emotional abuse). But whoa. This is the kind of book you just think about for days afterward.
Written from the narrator’s perspective to her now ex-husband (not a spoiler, you know he’s with his new wife from the first page), it’s a woman’s unraveling as motherhood ends up not being what she imagined. She doesn’t bond with her daughter Violet and she is certain that something is just off with Violet and her husband is dismissive of her fears. When she gives birth to a second child, a baby boy (Sam), it’s everything she imagined… the bonding, the deep love, etc. Then, an unthinkable tragedy happens. Blythe is forced to confront the truth but no one around her believes her. This book is unputdownable. It’s not a “scary” thriller but it keeps you engaged from the first page until the very last. I still can’t stop thinking about it!!! Favorite book of the month, I think! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A
The First Day of Spring, by Nancy Tucker
Since I loved The Push so much, a reader suggested I order this book and holy moly, I have to warn you: this is DARK. There are more triggers around bad parenting and abuse here but whoa. I read it in one day as I needed to know what happened, but I felt a little sick and awful during parts of it. (It’s worth sticking with, if you like dark – it actually winds up being oddly heartwarming.) The book opens up (this is not a spoiler!) with eight year old Chrissie murdering a little boy, and describing how good it feels. Fizzy in her belly. We watch Chrissie bully her school friends, but we also see her traumatic childhood (she’s always hungry, she’s starved for love and affection by her parents, she frequently wets the bed).
The book alternates between 8 year old Chrissie and adult Julia (Chrissie has grown up and has changed her identity). Julia is now a mother to Molly, living in fear that her daughter will be taken from her. I told you it was dark!!!! This was unputdownable but pretty upsetting. Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: B+
Imposter Syndrome, by Kathy Wang
I LOVED this book. Julia Lerner starts out as an abandoned little girl in an institution in Russia. She is clever and smart but has nothing. Twelve years later, she’s working for Russia’s largest intelligence agency but also the COO of Tangerine – a tech company that feels a lot like Facebook. As she leaks information back to Russia, she questions what she is doing, while simultaneously feeling powerless.
Meanwhile, Alice Lu is a first generation Chinese American who just can’t get a break. She took a demotion to work alongside her boyfriend (knowing he’d leave and start his own company) only to get dumped. She’s 35, single, slogging away as a lower echelon employee… and living with her cousin. One day she notices a large data transfer and tracks it back to Julia. This is a cat and mouse hunt between Julia and Alice. It’s sharply written, it’s smart (the way it tackles sexism at work and in a marriage is excellent). I couldn’t put it down! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A-
A Few Lighter Beach Reads.
The Blue Bistro, by Elin Hilderbrand.
This book is nothing new, but Becca has been on an Elin kick and had been bugging me to read it for a while now. It is so good! Having grown up on Cape Cod (in an actual fine dining restaurant; our house was attached), I love books about restaurants. And of course the Cape and Nantucket are so similar. It’s a little older (from 2005) but it is wonderful.
Adrienne Dealey has spent her professional career bouncing around luxe destinations, working in hotels. After a particularly bad breakup (her ex took all her money), she heads to Nantucket for the summer with one objective: make money. She manages (with no restaurant experience, I didn’t find this part believable) to snag a job as the assistant manager at Nantucket’s fanciest restaurant – during the restaurant’s last summer. She falls hard for the boss/owner Thatcher Smith. But what the heck is going on between his co-owner, Fiona. The two have a special bond. Fiona is one of the most talented (and elusive) chefs on the island and Adrienne can’t crack the code to figure out what is going on between them.
It’s such a fun look at working at a restaurant (especially during the summer)… honestly, in reading it, I would have thought Elin had spent much of her life working in restaurants, her research and attention to detail was that good! Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A
The Southern Side of Paradise, by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Kristy’s books are always such a treat and I love the Peachtree Bluff series. It’s like a Southern chicken soup for the soul. I had devoured the first two books of the series but forgotten about them! And then when I moved, I found this one and was so happy as I didn’t realize I hadn’t read the third book yet.
This book centers around Ansley Murphy and her three daughters, living in the idyllic town of Peachtree Bluff. After losing her husband during 9/11 and raising her daughters alone, Ansley has reconnected with her first love and is incredibly happy. But everything feels too good to be true! Meanwhile, her daughter Emerson is engaged. But she’s dealing with a health scare, and a fiance that is not exactly supportive of her career. As wedding planning closes in, what’s going to happen? I mean, we know what will happen as these books are always feel good and fun, but it’s more about the journey. This book feels like a warm and fuzzy hug. Order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: B+
Disclosure: If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only feature things I truly love here. Thanks for your support.
The very last line of The Push made me GASP! I loved that book.
SAME!!!!! Still thinking about it!
I read this in two days and holy cow, that ending!
I just finished Janelle Brown’s Watch Me Disappear, which was a good, moody, Gone Girlish, mystery. I loved that it was set in the Pacific Northwest, which is great, mental escape from the sweltering South while I was reading it. I look forward to reading her Pretty Things next. As always, thanks for the recs. You keep us motivated!
OH thanks for the rec, I loved Pretty Things so may need to scoop that one up as well.
I’m so glad you’re back on your reading game! My recommendation is Blush by Jamie Brenner. It’s about winemaking, love, family secrets and forbidden love. Such a great read!
Oh fun, I will have to check it out!
I’ve been on a huge Elin Hilderbrand kick since listening to her on your podcast a few weeks ago! I’m so thankful that she has written so many books and that so many of them are available on Libby. So far I’ve read Silver Girl, 28 Summers, Summerland and The Blue Bistro. I’m approx 75% through The Island and then I fear that I might have to take a break to read my RL book club book (Great Circle).
Love her books so much!!!! I just bought Silver Girl.
Recommend The Last Flight. Started last night and struggling to get work done, just want to read it!
oh my gosh YES!!!!! I read that last year and it’s amazing. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in recent years.
I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea and I added Imposter Syndrome to my list. Just wanted to note that the author is Kathy and not Nancy.
I’ve heard amazing things about that… and thank you – fixed!
Read Push a while ago and loved it! I am reading The Fiancee by Kate White now and I think you would like it. Everything she writes is good. Also, I know you loved Mare of East Town and I read a book with a similar setting/unsolved murder in a small town involving a lot of intertwined families and teenagers called Beneath Devil’s Bridge I enjoyed and thought you might like it.
Ooh I will check The Fiance out! Thanks for the rec.
Thanks SO much for reading The Southern Side of Paradise!!! Just in time for Christmas in Peachtree Bluff in October 😉 😉 Your June list sounds fabulous!! xoxo Kristy
I AM SO EXCITED FOR THE NEW ONE!
I read “The Push” last month and LOVED it. I don’t even want to say more so as not to spoil it but I agree with everything you said in your review!
I just read “The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz after seeing some buzz about it online. It is SOOOO good and I think if you liked “The Push” you’ll love it. It’s definitely a psychological thrilling but the writing was also really strong. Cannot recommend it enough.
I am currently listening to The Plot! So good !!