Morning Buzz

Five picks for June

Cindy Burnett
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WHAT TO READ This month’s selections include two page-turning thrillers, two historical-fiction titles – one about Radio City Music Hall and one about the first Black woman to found a bank in the U.S – and a sweet romantic comedy. (Photo: Cindy Burnett)

Buzz Reads is a column about books by reviewer Cindy Burnett. Each month, Cindy recommends five recently or soon-to-be released titles.

The Dark That Doesn’t Sleep by Simon Mockler (historical thriller) – This fast-paced historical thriller centers around a mystery at a top-secret American military base built under the ice in Greenland, a locale inspired by an actual Cold War project called Project Iceworm. It is December 1967, and FBI consultant and NYC psychiatrist Jack Miller is called to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to interview Private Connor Murphy. Three soldiers were trapped at this secret base in Greenland due to an arctic storm and when rescuers finally reached the base days later, only Connor is still alive, badly burned with no memory of what cause the fire that killed the other two soldiers. The FBI hires Dr. Miller to help recover Private Connor’s memories as well as determine which soldier was passing secrets to the Russians. The more he delves into the case, the more Dr. Miller realizes that nothing is at it seems. The Dark That Doesn’t Sleep is a clever thriller with countless surprising twists and turns that weaves in fascinating historical details about a failed top-secret military base in Greenland. Once I started it, I could not put it down, and I read it in less than a day. This would make a great Father’s Day gift.

Drowning by T.J. Newman (thriller) – Drowning, former flight attendant Newman’s standalone follow-up to her 2021 #1 New York Times Bestseller Falling, is a heart-pounding thriller that grabs you from page one and does not let up until the very last page. Six minutes after Flight 1421 takes off from Honolulu, the plane plummets into the ocean. As the passengers and crew work to evacuate the aircraft, an engine explodes, and the plane begins to flood. Those still inside the plane are forced to abandon the evacuation and attempt to seal themselves inside the plane and hope it will float until they can be rescued. But it is too late and the plane sinks to the bottom with 12 passengers still inside. Drowning is a can’t-put-down thriller, perfect to toss in your pool or beach bag this summer, but you may not want to read it while flying!

A Right Worthy Woman by Ruth P. Watson (historical fiction) – In this compelling historical fiction title, Watson spotlights trailblazer Maggie Lena Walker, a Richmond woman who created the first Black-run bank in the United States and pioneered Black responses to the early Jim Crow era policies that were adopted in the later Civil Right Movement. As a teenager, Walker was brilliant, outspoken, and aware of the economic discrepancy between her Jackson Ward neighbors and her laundress-mother’s wealthy white clients, so she decided to make it her life’s work to help her community bridge that gap. She launched a newspaper, bank, and department store in her neighborhood as well as organizing boycotts and helping Black neighbors and friends exert their economic power; she was an incredibly forward-thinking woman whose story should be known more widely. Readers will enjoy learning more about this influential woman who left an indelible mark on history.

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis (historical fiction) – Fiona Davis bases each of her books in an iconic New York City building, and The Spectacular is set at one of the city’s most well-known and beloved locales, Radio City Music Hall. Nineteen-year-old Marion is selected as a Rockette, the prestigious dance troupe that performs at Radio City Music Hall, much to the chagrin of her parents and her boyfriend. She loves the job but with four shows a day and exhausting rehearsals, she is not left with much time for anything else. Then one evening, a bomb explodes in the theater, and Marion’s personal connection draws her into the investigation. The behind-the-scenes glimpses into both Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes are fascinating, and aspects of the story are more personal for Davis. Historical fiction readers will find this one compelling and at times sadder than most of her books.

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren (romantic comedy) – Writing duo Christina Lauren (writing partners/best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) is back with a fabulous summer read. Felicity Chen, who goes by Fizzy, is a bestselling romance author who has lost her ability to write happily-ever-afters, partly because she feels that she will never find her own true love. When Connor Prince, a documentary filmmaker and single dad, is tasked with creating a reality dating show or face losing his job, he contacts Fizzy to star in the show – what would romance readers love more than seeing their favorite writer fall in love on national TV? Reluctantly, Fizzy agrees but includes a long list of requirements that Connor surprisingly agrees to. Chock full of fun pop culture references and focused on our nation’s obsession with reality TV, The True Love Experiment is a sweet and engaging romance with fun banter and genuinely likeable characters.

Editor’s note: Southside Place resident Cindy Burnett also writes our weekly Page Turners column at 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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