In this month’s list of book recommendations, we join college friends and former lovers in the Happy Place. Next we time-travel back to prohibition-era New York, in The Last Drop of Hemlock. Dark secrets are discovered in a small Kentucky town that transcends between reality and gothic fantasy in Starling House. In Main Character Energy we learn about acceptance and becoming the main character in our own story, and finally, we travel to Provence for a murder mystery in The Chateau.
This was such a fun read. It’s also the first Emily Henry book that I’ve had the chance to read from start to finish. Set mostly in Maine, where three college friends meet up for one last time at the cottage that they’ve been visiting every year for Lobsterfest.
It would be an ideal weekend, except for the fact that Harriet and Wyn who have been the perfect couple since college have broken up… and the hostess decides to surprise her friend by inviting Wyn to join them for the weekend.
Now the former couple must keep up appearances, and play nice… as they try to keep their feelings both old and new from getting in the way.
This is a must-have pool-side read!
A couple who broke up months ago pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry.
Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.
They broke up five months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.
Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.
Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?
Travel back to the prohibition era, where Vivian Kelly has a new job at one of New York City’s hottest underground speakeasies, the Nightingale.
Just when she thought she was getting ahead, her best friend Bea’s uncle turns up dead, all the signs point to murder. Vivian must put her life on the line to find out the truth before the murder silences her forever.
This book gives you an inside look at the corruption that ruled the underworld in the prohibition era, and what happened to those unwilling to play by its rules.
For all those who enjoy all things 1920s and 30s, Gatsby, and New York City, this is a must-read!
In The Last Drop of Hemlock, the dazzling follow-up to Last Call at the Nightingale, even a dance can come with a price…
The rumor went through the Nightingale like a flood, quietly rising, whispers hovering on lips in pockets of silence.
Life as a working-class girl in Prohibition-era New York isn’t safe or easy. But Vivian Kelly has a new job at the Nightingale, an underground speakeasy where the jazz is hot and the employees look out for each other in a world that doesn’t care about them. Things are finally looking up for her and her sister Florence… until the night Vivian learns that her friend Bea’s uncle, a bouncer at the Nightingale, has died.
His death is ruled a suicide, but Bea isn’t so convinced. She knew her uncle was keeping a secret: a payoff from a mob boss that was going to take him out of the tenements and into a better life. Now, the money is missing.
Though her better judgment tells her to stay out of it, Vivian agrees to help Bea find the truth about her uncle’s death. But they uncover more than they expected when rumors surface of a mysterious letter writer, blackmailing Vivian’s poorest neighbors for their most valuable possessions, threatening poison if they don’t comply.
Death is always a heartbeat away in Jazz Age New York, where mob bosses rule the back alleys and cops take bootleggers’ hush money. But whoever is targeting Vivian’s poor and unprotected neighbors is playing a different game. With the Nightingale’s dangerously lovely owner, Honor, worried for her employees’ safety and Bea determined to discover who is responsible for her uncle’s death, Vivian once again finds herself digging through a dead man’s past in hopes of stopping a killer.
This debut novel is a must for summer reading. While it deals with heavier topics like self-image, body positivity and loss, it is full of positive up lifting moments as Poppy learns not only to love herself, both opening her heart to loving someone else as well.
This book is full of charm, romance set in the beautiful setting of the south of France.
Poppy Banks would rather be writing mysteries than writing listicles for her dead-end job at Thought Buzz. But after a series of rejections, she’s ready to accept life on the sidelines as a plus-size woman. Her aunt Margot is the one person unwilling to give up on her niece’s dreams and tells her so at their secret yearly lunches.
But all of Poppy’s beliefs about herself are challenged when her beloved aunt dies and leaves her niece a grand surprise—a trip to her villa in the French Riviera. There, she learns her aunt intends to leave her stunning villa and secretive writer’s residency to Poppy—if she can finish her novel in six months.
When the writing countdown begins, Poppy realizes she has more to confront than her writer’s block. Family drama, complicated romances and self-doubt all threaten to throw her off course. In this fun and heartwarming debut, Poppy must decide if she can live up to her aunt’s—and her own—desire to be the main character in her own life.
Alix E. Harrow
This Gothic novel by bestselling author Alix E. Harrow is a book that will keep you tucked up safely under your covers, protected from all that go ‘bump in the night’. The novel calls to mind the gothic literary masters, Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca) and Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House) but in a more modern setting in present-day Eden, Kentucky.
The novel weaves back and forth between the points of view of the heroine of the story, Opal, and the heir of Starling House, Arthur. While Opal doesn’t know much about her family history, even her last name is not her own, she struggles to raise her younger brother and get him into one of the best schools in the country… which means taking a job as a housekeeper at Starling House, a place that everyone else avoids.
I dream sometimes about a house I’ve never seen….
Opal is a lot of things–orphan, high school dropout, full-time cynic, and part-time cashier–but above all, she’s determined to find a better life for her younger brother Jasper. One that gets them out of Eden, Kentucky, a town remarkable for only two things: bad luck and E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author of The Underland, who disappeared over a hundred years ago.
All she left behind were dark rumors–and her home. Everyone agrees that it’s best to ignore the uncanny mansion and its misanthropic heir, Arthur. Almost everyone, anyway.
I should be scared, but in the dream, I don’t hesitate.
Opal has been obsessed with The Underland since she was a child. When she gets the chance to step inside Starling House–and make some extra cash for her brother’s escape fund–she can’t resist.
But sinister forces are digging deeper into the buried secrets of Starling House, and Arthur’s own nightmares have become far too real. As Eden itself seems to be drowning in its own ghosts, Opal realizes that she might finally have found a reason to stick around.
In my dream, I’m home.
And now she’ll have to fight.
Welcome to Starling House: enter, if you dare.
The Chateau is a stay-up-late reading kind of book because once you start reading it you have to see how it ends. Set in Provence, Seraphine Demargelasse invites her granddaughter Darcy and her three friends to stay at the Chateau with the promise that secrets will be revealed.
Told from the point of view of each of the women, Jaclyn Goldis creates an engaging murder mystery that constantly leaves you wondering what new secrets are going to be revealed next, and what still remains untold.
A must-read for francophiles and murder mystery lovers alike!
A dream girls trip to a luxurious French chateau devolves into a deadly nightmare of secrets and lies in this “twisty, well-paced murder mystery that never fully lets go” (Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author).
Welcome to picturesque Provence, where the Lady of the Chateau, Séraphine Demargelasse, has opened its elegant doors to her granddaughter Darcy and her three friends. Twenty years earlier, the four girlfriends studied abroad together in France and visited the old woman on the weekends, creating the group’s deep bond. But why this sudden invitation?
Amid winery tours, market visits, and fancy dinners overlooking olive groves and lavender fields, it becomes clear that each woman has a hidden reason for returning to the estate after all these years. Then, following a wild evening’s celebration, Séraphine is found brutally murdered.
In the midst of this shocking crime, a sinister Instagram account pops up, exposing snapshots from the friends’ intimate moments at the chateau, while threatening to reveal more.