Morning Buzz

Five picks for July

Cindy Burnett
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WHAT TO READ This month’s picks include a compelling mystery set in rural Nevada, two thrillers, a romance with time-travel elements, and a family saga about three generations of Vietnamese women. (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.

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai (fiction) – Banyan Moon follows the lives of three generations of Vietnamese women – Minh, the grandmother; Huong, the daughter; and Ann, the granddaughter. When Minh passes away, she leaves Huong and Ann Banyan House, the Gothic and mysterious home where Minh raised Ann; however, Huong and Ann are estranged and cannot fathom owning a home together. As the story bounces between Minh’s early years in Vietnam and the present as Ann and Huong get to know each other again, long-buried secrets are revealed. With Minh looking out for her daughter and granddaughter from the great beyond, the women begin to understand each other better and come to terms with their choices and how those choices impacted their relationship with each other as well as with others. This stunning tale of the bonds between mothers and daughters and how those bonds inform people’s lives is well worth reading. It is an atmospheric, character-driven story that left an indelible impression on me. Readers who love books with a strong sense of place will revel in this beautiful story.

The Bitter Past by Bruce Borgos (mystery) – After retiring from an Army Intelligence division, Porter Beck has returned home to take on the role as sheriff of Lincoln County, located in the high desert of Nevada north of Las Vegas. When a retired FBI agent is killed, the normally sleepy area suddenly springs to life as FBI agents arrive, and a mystery from 60 years ago when a Russian KGB agent came to pilfer the United States’ nuclear technology appears to be linked to the recent death. Toggling back and forth in time, The Bitter Past, the first in a new mystery series, is an enthralling read; the nuclear testing site storyline, the FBI aspects of the story, and the ending make this an all-around fabulous read. I could not turn the pages fast enough and am already eagerly awaiting the second book in the series.

Have You Seen Her by Catherine McKenzie (thriller) – On the run from her past, Cassie Peters has fled New York City and returned home to Mammoth Lakes, Calif. to work with Yosemite Search and Rescue at Yosemite National Park. While on the job, she encounters Petal, who lives at a nearby trailer park and is constantly writing in her journal, and Jada, a recent college graduate who is traveling the country with her boyfriend and posting about it on Instagram. Have You Seen Her is told from Cassie’s point of view in the present and the past and her story is interspersed with Petal’s journal entries and Jada’s Instagram posts. As a lover of all things National Park related, the Yosemite setting appealed to me, and McKenzie does a fabulous job of bringing the park and its environs to life. This is a stellar addition to the growing number of thrillers/mystery series set in the great outdoors and is full of some great twists and turns culminating in an enthralling ending.

Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin (thriller) – Texan Julia Heaberlin hits it out of the ballpark with her latest thriller, Night Will Find You. At age 10, Vivvy Bouchet became famous when she made a prediction that saved a boy’s life. Years later she is an astrophysicist who does her best to suppress the visions she sees. Mike, the boy she saved, grows up to be a cop and believes that Vivvy still sees things that others do not. So Mike ropes Vivvy into helping Jesse, a police detective and friend of Mike’s who only believes in things he can see, with a cold case regarding a kidnapped girl. I am always on the lookout for unique and entertaining thrillers – ones that don’t read like other countless ones on the market. This thriller definitely fits the bill, and I loved the Texas setting as well. The book is already being developed for a TV series.

The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston (romance) – When Clementine loses her beloved Aunt Analea, she finds it difficult to move forward, so she throws herself into her work as a book publicist and looks for love but struggles to find the right guy. After inheriting her aunt’s apartment, she moves in and is startled one day to find a strange man in the kitchen. As they begin to bond, she is dismayed to learn that he lives seven years in the past. Her aunt had often hinted that the apartment held secrets regarding time and how it exists there. I find time-travel stories intriguing, and this one is a winner. Both the premise, in a New York City apartment time occasionally overlaps by seven years, and the way the story plays out are fantastic, and I was so sad when the book ended, but the ending is wonderful. 

Editor’s note: Southside Place resident Cindy Burnett also writes our weekly Page Turners column. She hosts the 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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