The Show Girl
The Show GirlRead the book
I received an ARC (advance reader copy) of this one and was drawn to it as I loved City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert so so much. This wasn’t as good as that but I still really enjoyed it. Fun and feminist, and I love reading books set during Prohibition New York. Olive McCormick moves to New York from Minneapolis in 1927, where she becomes a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Her family (her father, really) is unsupportive of her dancing: they find it disgraceful and force her to make a decision between them (and living a nice life at home) and performing. She chooses performing. It’s the thing she loves most, the thing that lights her on fire. When she meets handsome, wealthy, Archie Carmichael, she thinks she’s found the one: a man that accepts her career and desire to be on stage. But as they continue to see each other and ultimately get engaged, she realizes that she has to choose and that she can’t have both things: does she give up the man she loves for the life she loves… or give up the life she loves for the man she loves? I really enjoyed this. It took me a little while to get into but once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop. And it had a really satisfying ending too. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The Third Door
The Third DoorRead the book
Oh my goodness, this book. It was a great re-entry into nonfiction as I was so taken with it that I just couldn’t put it down and wound up reading it in just a few days. It’s so many things. First, it’s a coming of age story (the author was 19 when he started writing the book: the night before finals, he hacked The Price is Right, won, and used the money to fund his dream). So that in itself was pretty interesting. He made it his mission to interview the world’s most successful people and learn from them. In doing this, he noticed a theme that he referred to as The Third Door. The idea is that life and business are like a nightclub. Some people wait in line and never get in. Others (billionaires, mostly) walk right in. But what about a third door – being scrappy and creative and figuring out your own way in? Throughout the book he talks to some of the most inspiring people – everyone from Bill Gates to Lady Gaga. I could not put it down. I loved the plot (his friendship with Elliott Bisnow, founder of Summit, was wonderful). I found myself laughing, crying, and also taking notes. I cannot recommend it enough! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
While We Were Dating
While We Were DatingRead the book
This was the last book of The Wedding Date series. I hesitate to call them a series, as you can 100% read each of the books alone… it’s just that the characters from previous books make little cameos. Anna Gardiner is a Hollywood movie star, determined to make a name for herself. When she stars in an ad campaign produced by (handsome, former backup dancer) Ben, sparks fly between the two of them. A flirtation develops between the two of them, and then sex… and then they become “fake” boyfriend and girlfriend to help Anna advance her career and promote her next movie. But what if the feelings between them aren’t fake? Jasmine Guillory has a formula for her books which usually looks something like this: Boy and girl meet. Sparks fly. But it’s just for fun and they can’t be together. But maybe they can be together? Satisfying reunion. And as much as I know the formula and can guess exactly what is going to happen, it’s still incredibly satisfying. I really enjoyed this. Party of Two is still probably my favorite of hers but this was a fun read. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
PachinkoRead the book
This had been recommended by so many of you, so I had it sitting in my TBR pile forever! I decided to take it with me to Cape Cod and I am so glad I did. While it took me a while to get into (to be honest, the first parts dragged for me a bit as there were so many characters, I had a hard time keeping them straight. But by page 200 (it’s a long book!) I was INVESTED and could not put it down. The book begins in Korea, following a poor (but hard working and respectable) family starting in the 1930’s through 1989. The plot really begins when Sunja (the only daughter of a crippled man and his wife) accidentally gets pregnant. She is disgraced as her wealthy lover already has a family that she didn’t know about, and can’t marry her. A handsome pastor offers to marry her and bring her to Japan, saving her dignity and giving her a new life. The book then follows their children, and then their grandchildren. It is fascinating. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about the anti-Korean racism in Japan. I enjoyed this book immensely and also learned a lot from it. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
Red, White, and Royal Blue
Red, White, and Royal BlueRead the book
This book was so fun. As I read it on Cape Cod I saw reprimands come in via DM. People were horrified that I hadn’t read it yet. It’s just not my usual genre. Though we read a lot of romance and royal books for the podcast they aren’t my usual thing (though I will read anything by Katharine McGee or the Fug Girls which I think is why people think I like royals stuff). Caveats aside, I really loved this book. In a fictional world, Ellen Claremont is president of the United States. Her son Alex Claremont-Diaz gets into a bit of a skirmish with Henry, Prince of England. Their feud threatens to derail Ellen’s reelection (and cause a rift between the US + Britain), so Henry and Alex are forced to spend time together. When the totally unexpected happens (I mean, expected for the reader, haha) and they fall in love, a wild ride ensues. I couldn’t put this down, I really enjoyed it. I think the reason I loved it so much was that in addition to the romance there was also an election race and I loved the dynamic between the two sets of siblings. The plot was great and it kept me on my toes, reading as quickly as I could as I needed to know what would happen next (there was a great twist with a political scandal toward the end that I LOVED). Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
Ace of Spades
Ace of SpadesRead the book
Oh my gosh, I don’t want to say much more than READ THIS BOOK if you want a twisty, fast-paced YA thriller because it is one of those books where the less you know, the better. A podcast listener posted about it in the Bad on Paper Facebook group saying it was a must-read. I ordered it on the spot. Becca ordered it before I did, and she loved it. I read this in just a couple days. I couldn’t put it down. Devon and Chiamaka are the only two Black kids at Niveus Private Academy. They couldn’t be more different: Devon is secretly gay, a bit of an outcast, but a musical prodigy. Meanwhile, Chiamaka is popular, pretty, and on track to attend Yale. When they are both selected to be senior class prefects, the year is off to a great start. But then, someone going by Aces begins to target them, sending anonymous text messages and revealing their deepest, darkest secrets. Things get scary. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is simultaneously a suspenseful and fun book to read while also an important social commentary tackling race and class issues. Buy this book! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
They’ll Never Catch Us
They’ll Never Catch UsRead the book
This one *just* came out and I was really excited about it as I love the running angle – I ran track and cross-country in high school so could definitely relate to a lot of it. Set in a small town in the Catskills with a sordid past (Edgewater, known as Deadwater – thanks to a series of gruesome murders that targeted female runners ten years ago), the story is told by two sisters: Stella and Ellie Steckler. The school has one of the best cross-country teams and both sisters are incredible runners (and incredibly competitive) but could not be more different. Stella, a junior, is the team captain and openly gay. She also has a reputation for having a violent streak. Meanwhile Ellie is a sophomore, and secretly sleeping with her team-mate’s boyfriend with secrets of her own. When newcomer Mila joins the team, she winds up forming an unlikely friendship with both sisters. Stella finds herself unable to concentrate and finally understood by someone; Ellie accidentally confides her biggest secret to. One day, Mila goes missing. Did she run away? Is the serial killer from ten years ago back? Or did something else happen? The Steckler sisters find themselves suspected by everyone in the town. I enjoyed this so much… I read it in a day and could not put it down! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
One By One
One By OneRead the book
I never miss a Ruth Ware book and (though a little late to reading it) I really enjoyed this one. It had a great twist and the ending was really scary!!!! It’s set in the French Alps and right from the start you know it’s going to be gruesome as it opens with a newspaper article talking about the house of horrors and deaths that have taken place after a horrible snow storm and avalanche.. It begins as a retreat for a tech startup (a music-related social media company), and sounds like an absolute dream: a luxurious chalet with a private chef and housekeeper? Sign me up! But when one shareholder presents a buyout opportunity, everything goes awry and the team members begin to argue about the future of the company. When a dramatic avalanche occurs they are snowed and cut off from the outside world without electricity, heat, or cell phone reception and one by one, different team members begin to disappear. A killer is among them and no one knows who it could be. Everyone is a suspect. I really liked that it was told from the perspective of two different women on the trip (who also happen to be outsiders in their own ways). I couldn’t put it down and loved the twisty surprise… I didn’t guess the killer! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The Hunting Wives
The Hunting WivesRead the book
I read this in a day while on vacation with my family. I’m not entirely sure where I net out on it. There’s a lot to unpack. This is about a group of housewives in Texas who are (in some cases) bored in their marriages. They get together on Friday to drink and skeet shoot, drink, and hunt. Our narrator Sophie has recently moved there. Struggling with a bit of boredom after ditching her glamorous job as a magazine editor, she starts a gardening blog and yearns for female camaraderie. She quickly becomes obsessed with Margot – a beautiful, mysterious, (and very wealthy) brunette. There’s a lot to unpack. First of all, (and I like to drink so this should tell you something) there is SO much drinking. I felt a little hungover at times while I read it. These women in their late thirties constantly swigging bourbon and taking tequila shots. I swear I’m not a prude but MAN. Also: the levels of infidelity made me super uncomfortable at times. There’s an Idea of You-esque plotline but more sordid – I won’t say anymore. My last complaint: the first sixty percent of the book was like watching a really bad trainwreck about to happen. You want to shake the main character and I felt so frustrated by her actions. But, there are good points too. The plot kept me guessing. There were some good steamy parts. And the ending was really good. A great twist that I didn’t see coming. I would say that if you like murdery stuff and you want a fun beach read that you’ll breeze through in a day or two, pick this up. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The Girl in the Mirror
The Girl in the MirrorRead the book
I wound up only being medium on this one but I loved the angle of the story/plot so still really enjoyed this? The plot reminded me a tiny bit of Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar – an old CW show from years ago… I love a thriller about twins! Sisters Summer and Iris are mirror twins: both beautiful and smart, but still so different. Life seemingly comes so easily for Summer: she has the perfect life. A beautiful home, a handsome and loving husband… she’s always happy and content with whatever life throws her way. Meanwhile, Iris is more complicated and cynical. Happiness doesn’t come as easy for her, and even though they look exactly alike, she’ll always see Summer as the more beautiful twin. When the sisters sail Summer’s yacht from Phuket to the Seychelles, an accident happens and Iris suddenly finds herself all alone in the middle of the ocean. She’s tempted: could she take over Summer’s life? Pretend to be her sister and step into an easy, worry-free life? Meanwhile there is another plot line: the girls’ father has left his hundred million dollar fortune to just one of his seven children… the first to produce an heir. This is a fun, fast read. I loved the plot but parts fell flat for me (I can’t quite articulate what?). Even though I’m only giving it a B I would still absolutely recommend reading it! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The MaidensRead the book
I was really excited to read this book as I loved The Silent Patient (also by this author). It did not disappoint. Mariana Andros is a therapist living in London. When a friend of her beloved niece Zoe is murdered at Cambridge University, she rushes to her niece’s rescue. She becomes convinced that Edward Fosca (beloved, charming professor of Greek tragedy) is the one who did it. The only problem is, no one believes her: Fosca is much adored by both the staff and students of the university; especially within a group of his favorite, most talented female students: The Maidens. And why would he kill his own students? When another body turns up, Mariana knows he is guilty and will do everything it takes to prove it to the world. But will she be too late? This one kept me on my toes. Everyone was guilty. But I didn’t guess the ending. I loved that, and also loved all of the references to Greek mythology. I read it on the airplane home from LA and couldn’t put it down. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
Imposter SyndromeRead the book
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.
The PushRead the book
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.
The First Day of Spring
The First Day of SpringRead the book
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.
LookerRead the book
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. 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.
The Blue Bistro
The Blue BistroRead the book
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.
The Southern Side of Paradise
The Southern Side of ParadiseRead the book
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.nOrder it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.
The Girls Are All So Nice Here
The Girls Are All So Nice HereRead the book
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.
Pretty Little Wife
Pretty Little WifeRead the book
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.
The HerdRead the book
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!)
The Stranger in the Mirror
The Stranger in the MirrorRead the book
I am a big fan of Liv Constantine’s books. They (it’s a sister duo) write some of my most favorite read it in a day / stay up all night thrillers like The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Wife Stalker, etc etc. This one is not out until July and I will be honest, it was not my favorite of their books, but it was still very engaging and kept me on my toes. Addison wakes up on the side of the road with no memories. She cannot remember a thing about her past or who she was. Luckily, she’s taken in by an older couple in Philadelphia and slowly starts to build a life, even getting engaged to handsome and charismatic Gabriel. Meanwhile, up in Boston, Julian’s wife Cassandra is missing. One day she just vanished, leaving him and their seven year old daughter alone. Julian struggles to figure out what happened to Cassandra and where she went… while Addison struggles to figure out who she really is. Of course at some point, there stories intersect and that’s where it gets really good. I will say that I felt like the end went a little (a lot?) off the rails and wasn’t so believable, but that didn’t stop me from tearing through it and really enjoying it! It’s a fun fast read, perfect for the beach. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
Malibu RisingRead the book
OK I had been saving my ARC of this forever and then I forgot about it during the move. This was my favorite book from the month, I think. I mean you know how much I love Taylor Jenkins Reid. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of the best books I have ever read – or at least, one of my favorite books ever. And when I found out that she had a new book out, set in Malibu in the eighties, I knew it was going to be good. This is the story of the Riva family. Four siblings and their parents. Their father Mick (a huge star) abandoned them as kids and their mother was an alcoholic who wound up dying young. It was the oldest sister, Nina, who ultimately held the family (and their family restaurant) together, dropping out of school to raise her three siblings and hold the business together. Throughout this traumatic period though, the kids all love to surf, which winds up leading the siblings Nina ends up getting discovered while she is out surfing and becomes a famous model / surfer. This ends up as a means to an end, but she’s not truly happy (and ends up married to an awful guy). The book goes back and forth between present day and the past, uncovering layers of family trauma… ending in 1983 a the Riva’s famous summer party (and the start of the 1983 Malibu fires). I really, really enjoyed it. As with all of TJR’s books it is gritty and glamorous with complex relationships and characters you really love and relate to. I LOVED this book! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
People We Meet on Vacation
People We Meet on VacationRead the book
Oh my gosh, this book is so cute! We chose it as our June Bad on Paper book club book and Becca said it was her favorite book she’s read all year. It’s been spun as a modern day When Harry Met Sally and I didn’t see too many parallels but I really enjoyed it regardless. Alex and Poppy are college best friends. They couldn’t be more different – Alex is a teacher who loves his khakis and longs for a conventional life whereas Poppy is a wild child who wants to travel the world (she’s a travel writer) and never settle down. But they are as close as can be, and every summer without fail, they plan “The Summer Trip.” The book opens and Poppy and Alex are just not as close as they used to be. The trip didn’t happen last year, and Poppy desperately misses Alex. She convinces him to plan one more trip (to Palm Springs – which was fun, as I read it while I was there). The book alternates between past summer trips and the current one, as we figure out what happened to their friendship, and what is going to happen next for them. It is a very cute romcom of a book. I really liked both characters (I typically find most of the leads in romcom style books to be annoying, which is why I don’t always enjoy the genre) and it’s my favorite romance type of book I’ve read in ages. Really cute and heartwarming, with a satisfying ending. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
The Most Beautiful Girl in CubaRead the book
I don’t generally read a lot of historical fiction, but I really love Chanel Cleeton’s writing. I also tend to really love anything about Cuba (you might remember that Next Year in Havana was one of my favorite books a couple years back… I had been on a kick of reading books about Cuba after going there for a week). This one is set at the end of the 19th century, during the gilded age of New York City. There’s a journalistic battle between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. Meanwhile, Spain has invaded Cuba and is wreaking havoc on the Cuban people. Imprisoning them in camps, treating the women horrifically, taking all property for themselves. This book takes us through three brave womens’ stories, which ultimately intersect. There is Grace Harrington who gave up a life of privilege to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. There’s Marina Perez who grew up in a wealthier part of Cuba but abandoned her family to marry for love. After her husband goes to war, she’s left to provide for her family and becomes a courier, hoping to help with the war in her own way. And there’s Evangelina Cisneros who has caught the eye of a brutal Spanish general. When he tries to force himself on her, her friends and family come to her aid and she is jailed and accused of inciting an attack on him. Evangelina’s story gets to America where she’s billed “the most beautiful girl in Cuba,” and Grace + Marina help (in their own ways) to free her. I read this in just a couple days and really really enjoyed it. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!