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Late-Summer Reads Recommended by Authors

Cindy Burnett
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Kristen Bird, Julia Heaberlin, Cindy Burnett, Krista Hensel,

Kristen Bird selects Julia Heaberlin's thriller Night Will Find You as her favorite summer read. The two were paired at Conversations from a Page literary salon this summer. Pictured, sitting, from left: Kristen Bird and Julia Heaberlin; standing, from left: Cindy Burnett and Krista Hensel, who co-founded the Conversations from a Page series. 

Here in Houston, school is back in session, but it is still so hot. With school starting, it feels like we should be transitioning to fall, but we are definitely not there yet, nor will we be for quite a while. So with summer still in full swing here, I asked some of my favorite author friends to recommend books that they read this summer and loved. That way people can grab a book and curl up inside as we wait for it to cool down. I list the recommendations in the order I received them and highlight each recommending author’s most recent book, but they all have earlier titles as well:

Fiona Davis, author of The Spectacular – I loved A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales. It’s a generous, brilliantly-executed spoof on Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, with a feisty heroine, a group of party-goers trapped in an English mansion during a terrible storm, a murder, and some of the funniest lines I’ve read in ages. A perfect summer read, whether you’re hiking around the Lake District or lounging in a hammock. 

Lisa Barr, author of Woman on Fire – I loved The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni. The awe-inspiring research alone gave me the best kind of goosebumps. This gripping novel possesses a little bit of everything: part The Da Vinci Code, part “Friday Night Lights,” part love story, philosophical, historical, supernatural, sensual, a little terrifying (porcelain dolls freak me out), with a heaping spoonful of Jewish mysticism – Kabbalah. Couldn't put it down ... 

Wendy Walker, author of What RemainsWednesdays at One by Sandra Miller. A therapist with a troubled past. A marriage dying in its shadow. And a mysterious new patient who sparks the hope of healing. But who is she? And why does she seem to hold this power? Wednesdays at One takes a provocative deep dive into the muddy waters of secrets and regret, forgiveness, and loss. Miller's writing is superb - this story flew off the pages. I loved it!

Kristen Bird, author of I Love the Way You Lie – My favorite read was Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin, which I read after our interview, so thanks to you for introducing me to it! I loved the protagonist, a reluctant psychic who is also a renowned astrophysicist. As she uses both her intellect and instinct to solve the case of a missing girl, Vivvy Bouchet is forced to work with a skeptical detective, a tough man she's not sure she should trust. The book calls into question what we believe and why while featuring a sprinkling of popular conspiracy theories that kept me riveted as the mystery unfolded. This one is a page-turner and beautifully written, a challenging feat!

Kristy Woodson Harvey, author of The Summer of Songbirds Annabel Monaghan’s Same Time Next Summer is an unputdownable read about first-loves and second chances set in a gorgeous summer setting. I read this nostalgic novel in one sitting, and you will too! 

Nicole Baart, author of The Long Way Back – I’ve read so many great books this summer, but Kimi Cunningham Grant’s These Silent Woods was exceptional. This dark and brooding novel brought to mind classics like My Side of the Mountain and Hatchet. Father and daughter duo Cooper and Finch live an isolated life near the edge of a national forest. But when the outside world encroaches, they have to face their past to protect their future. Bittersweet and filled with longing, this story had me weeping at the end. Five enthusiastic stars.

Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder SeasonThe Poet's House, Jean Thompson is a gem of a novel by one of America's best short story writers (and one of David Sedaris's favorite authors). It is a literary coming-of-age story set in Marin, featuring a woman who stumbles into the weird and wonderful world of quirky poets and discovers that spending time with people who love language can elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. The novel is filled with Jean's sly humor and astute observations, and you can tell that Thompson had a blast writing it. When you finish, be sure to check out her short fiction. Who Do You Love is one of my favorite collections.  

Tori Whitaker, author of A Matter of Happiness – I think my favorite summer book was Melanie Benjamin’s California Gold. I loved how it gave me fascinating history of the ’60s west coast surfing scene – like how the book Gidget had started the whole beach party boom. But the story also veered into the darker side of the era’s drug culture and Vietnam. The author did a great job with alternating POVs, character development, and story twists!

Susie Orman Schnall, author of We Came Here to Shine – I loved The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry – I found it to be a perfectly crafted book with all of the elements of great storytelling and combining aspects of so many of my favorite genres. It is beautifully written, lyrical, and magical, with a wholly satisfying ending.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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