From Showgirls to Quirky Libraries, August’s Best Reads

By Leslie Zemeckis   |   August 12, 2021

Beach reading is heating up as we move into August. Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey is a shatteringly emotional story with soaring prose; a page-turning thriller. Set in a remote small town in Colorado, Emma’s 17-year-old friend Abigail disappears, stirring up a town filled with decades-long secrets, fanatics, and racists. Emma forms a tentative alliance with Rat, the town’s other outsider, a Romanian trailer rat. There are enough suspicious characters to keep the reader guessing. A must-read about abuse, racism, addiction, and outsiders, it will sometimes shatter your belief in goodness and then slowly build up your belief in hope again.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead is a superb thriller. In college they were a close group of seven friends, until one of them is brutally murdered. Now it is the ten-year reunion and six of them have returned to campus. It will be a weekend of pointing fingers and secrets never shared. You will not be able to figure this one out until the very end. Told in the past and present from several characters’ POV, it is a spellbinding read. It questions who we are and who we want to be. And what at least one of the six will do to be that person.

Freya Sampson has built a beautiful quirky world in her Last Chance Library. Set in a small English village, the threat of the library closing and upending many lives causes June Jones, the shy assistant librarian, to ban together with an eclectic crew of protestors to preserve their beloved safe space. The story is charming and ultimately uplifting with what the library brings to so many as the heart of the story.

A quirky read, Edge Case by Yz Chin, is a sorrowful take of immigration and marriage. Edwina, a young Malaysian woman, wakes up to find her husband gone. In her search for him she discovers what she is willing to sacrifice to save her marriage and to obtain a green card to stay in America, where she feels she does not belong.

I loved The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison and not just because I wrote a showgirl book. This is a backstage look at the world of a Ziegfeld showgirl, often not nearly as glamorous as is presented to the world. When Olive is rejected by her family, she leaves for New York to pursue her dreams. She finds fame, the wrong men pursuing her, and possibly love with Archie, a rich businessman. But Olive has a secret that could derail any future plans. This is a fun romp.  

The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer will grip you from the murder on page one. Sprawling between Florence and Paris, this Da Vinci Code-like story is an intriguing summer read loaded with historical facts. Weaving the real-life theft of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in 1911, with a professor in 2019, this book is a wild ride. Mystery, thriller, and sizzling characters.


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