Five picks for May
Buzz Reads is a column about books by reviewer Cindy Burnett. Each month, Cindy recommends five recently or soon-to-be released titles.
The Chateau by Jaclyn Goldis (thriller) – This atmospheric thriller is set during a girls trip to a beautiful French chateau in Provence owned by Séraphine Demargelasse. Twenty years earlier the four women studied abroad together and visited Séraphine on the weekends, developing close friendships with each other. But they haven’t seen her since and are surprised when she invites them back for wine tours and fancy dinners. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that each woman has her own secret reason for returning, and when Séraphine is found murdered, the finger-pointing begins as the friends start suspecting each other. The Chateau kept me on the edge of my seat with all of the lies, revelations, and superb plot twists. I love when a thriller keeps me guessing right up until the end.
The Daydreams by Laura Hankin (fiction) – The Daydreams follows four teen stars whose popular show was derailed by a spectacular collapse on live TV and their reunion special 13 years later that will either redeem them or finished them off for good. Told in a dual timeline format set in 2004 when the Daydreams band is created and in 2018 when they reunite, the story follows the four members who are learning to deal with success and the media in 2005 and have moved on with various levels of success in 2018. As the four friends reunite, they struggle to move forward instead holding grudges, keeping secrets, and desiring to understand exactly what happened 13 years ago. When their reunion begins to go sideways, the group learns there is more going on behind-the-scenes than they realized. I devoured this book in less than a day and am completely in love with the stellar cover.
Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen (historical fiction) – Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl provides a compelling, behind-the-scenes look at Estée Lauder, the iconic woman who revolutionized the cosmetics industry. Told from the perspective of a fictional friend, Gloria Downing, Rosen depicts Lauder’s early days peddling face cream from a New York City hair salon and dreaming of becoming a household name like Revlon and Elizabeth Arden. Lauder’s unrelenting ambition sometimes impacted her personal life in negative ways, but success was always her main goal, and she pursued it doggedly. Today’s cosmetics departments reflect the high level of success she reached, and readers will enjoy learning more about this influential woman who left her mark on this industry.
On Fire Island by Jane L. Rosen (contemporary fiction) – On Fire Island is a funny and touching tale that celebrates love, life, and the places that shape us. Julia, a successful book editor, dies at 37 and is granted the ability to watch one last summer at her beloved Fire Island overseeing her cherished husband, Benjamin, her best friend, and the rest of the individuals she has spent summers with on the island and how they cope with her death. This hopeful and occasionally heartbreaking tale is creative and fresh, and the vibrant cast and engaging location combine to make it a genuinely enjoyable story about the impact we make on the world around us. I highly recommend throwing this one in your beach or pool bag this summer.
There Will Be Fire: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes That Changed History by Rory Carroll (narrative nonfiction) – In the midst of The Troubles, the IRA launched a daring plan to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet members on the last day of the 1984 Conservative Party Conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. While the attempt failed, the near-miss ordeal shaped how Thatcher viewed and addressed The Troubles going forward. Carroll focuses the first half of the book on a quick history of The Troubles and its origins as well as the events leading up to the bombing. The second half depicts how the police quickly mounted an exhaustive search to find and capture the bomber. This narrative nonfiction book reads like a thriller filled with intrigue and political history as well as true crime, structured around a tense countdown to the bombing. I truly could not put this one down once I started it; so much of what Carroll depicts weaves into current events such as Brexit as well as raising the question of what would have happened if the IRA succeeded.
Editor’s note: Southside Place resident Cindy Burnett also writes our weekly Page Turners column at thebuzzmagazines.com. She hosts the award-winning Thoughts from a Page Podcast, is co-creator of the Houston literary event series Conversations from the Page, runs the Instagram account @thoughtsfromapage, and regularly speaks to groups about books.
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