Weekend reading

Seira Wilson on May 08, 2020

2020 mystery & thriller winners: juvenile and young adults

It's going to be a beautiful weekend in Seattle, with temperatures that will have us outside enjoying the sun and some new books. With Sunday being Mother's Day, there may be some gifts of books, and hopefully some relaxing, uninterrupted reading time for the moms among us.

The books we're digging into are on the escapist side—a rom-com set in Hollywood, a historical mystery, and the latest from the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, to name a few. Erin is reading James McBride's newest novel and I'm excited for her to finish so we can talk about it. I miss our across-the-desk chats but the fun is really just the conversation, and it looks like we will have a lot to discuss when the weekend's books are finished.

Execution by S.J. Parris

I'm in the mood for a big, engrossing helping of historical mystery this weekend, something that will transport me to another time and another place. Execution, the latest in S.J. Parris' Giordano Bruno series, looks like just the ticket. Giordano Bruno is a heretic, philosopher, and spy and it is that last role that drives the action in Execution, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the group that is planning to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, and release Mary Queen of Scots from prison to take her rightful place on England's throne, a move which could expose her to a traitor's death. If one of these queens is going to die, Giordano Bruno must make sure it's the right one. Intrigue, subterfuge, machinations and assassinations, plus power struggles between queens: sounds like a great weekend of reading right there. —Vannessa Cronin

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

You can’t go wrong with James McBride. The National Book Award-winning author of The Good Lord Bird and the beloved novel The Color of Water has returned with another gem. In Deacon King Kong a curmudgeonly deacon that presides over the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn shoots a drug dealer in full view of its denizens, impacting this fraught but tight-knit community in unexpected and profound ways. There are so many characters that in less skilled hands the story could get muddy, but you’ll get attached to this motley crew; I’m already missing them as I near the last page. —Erin Kodicek

The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper

These days, I’m spending a lot of time being grateful for the doctors and nurses that are on the front lines, administering care every day. So when I stumbled upon Michele Harper’s memoir, The Beauty of Breaking (publishing in July), I dove right in. Dr. Harper grew up in DC with an abusive father, and it was this feeling of being broken that led her to become an emergency room doctor (of course, that’s just the short version). But just as she begins to heal the sick and damaged, her husband leaves her and once more she confronts feelings of abandonment and the pain of a shattered heart. From tending to babies who are no longer breathing to patients who have a history of sexual abuse, Dr. Harper vividly recounts what it’s like in the ER at 3:30 in the morning. She peppers her memories with her own meditations on the underlying racism and sexism that permeates the field of medicine and our country and what it’s like to grieve and heal from a traumatic event, whether a cracked rib, a horrible father, or the babies she never had with her husband. She’s a great writer and her words make me even more grateful for doctors and nurses around the world. And for that, I say: thank you, Dr. Harper, for everything you do. —Al Woodworth

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

I’ve told my husband that for Mother’s Day I want to be left alone all day (after enjoying some almond croissants and a latte in bed), and I plan to read books and magazines and watch television. I’m still relatively new at this mother stuff, but it always strikes me as ironic that I want to celebrate this day by spending it as I might have spent a Sunday pre-children. And maybe even more ironic that I plan to dive into Kevin Kwan’s upcoming June 30th book, Sex and Vanity (two more things that disappear after children…?). Kwan wrote the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, the first book of which was turned into a not-to-be-missed movie of the same name. And while his books are devilishly fun and name-check all the brands I dream about lining my closets with, they’re also smart social satire and were praised for bringing Asian culture into the mainstream in a way that not many have done before. Sex and Vanity promises more of the same: a tale of an American-born, half Chinese woman who is drawn towards a man she initially can’t stand. So if you see my children on Sunday, please tell them to leave me alone, Mommy will be reading.—Sarah Gelman

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

When a famously reserved Emmy Award-winning showrunner brings her assistant with her to the Screen Actors Guild Awards—and then is photographed holding her wrist and laughing—suddenly all of Hollywood is buzzing with speculation about an office romance that both Jo and Emma know isn’t true. But Emma does think Jo is really great, even if Jo is her boss. And Emma is the rare person who can make Jo laugh…. I’m loving Something to Talk About (May 26), a delightful romantic comedy that plays up not just the genuine—and sometimes genuinely confused—feelings between Jo and Emma but also the hard work that gets done behind the scenes in Hollywood. Sure, it’s barely May, but this lovely, laugh-worthy story is sweeping me ahead to the feel-good reads so popular in summer. —Adrian Liang

The Shadows by Alex North

I loved Alex North's last book, The Whisper Man, and even though it's not out until July 7th, I'm going to start his new thriller, The Shadows. I haven't cracked it yet, but the description has me itching to get my work done so I can park myself on the deck and get started. A shocking murder 25 years in the past spawned copycats and made the killer, Charlie Crabtree, infamous. Paul Adams knew the killer and his victims, and though he's been away from his hometown for years, he's forced to return to care for his mother. And the past comes creeping back... It sounds like The Shadows is going to be just the kind of suspenseful thriller that will keep me hooked for hours, which is exactly what I'm looking for this weekend. —Seira Wilson

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

I might be the only person on the team who hasn’t read this book, but this is the weekend when I do it. Vannessa Cronin was the first on the editorial team to start talking about Hidden Valley Road, and now everyone is talking about it. The book is already on sale and has landed on best sellers lists. I have high expectations.—Chris Schluep

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