Welcome to the last Books To Read This Month feature of 2021! We thought we escaped the crazy year of 2020 but 2021 appears to be just as tumultuous and hectic. With the height of the pandemic going up and down, returning back to whatever this new work life is, people (including myself) have had a hard time getting back into reading. But apart from supply chain issues, the craziness of this year has not stop from great books being released each month and the last month of the year is sure to end in style! (Literary wise). So here are the thrillers, the chillers and the powerful reads that will get you to the point when the clock strikes midnight:
Featured Book of the Month
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
In 2011, Zoe Nolan walked out of her dormitory in Manchester and was never seen or heard from again. Her case went cold. Her story was sad, certainly, but hardly sensational, crime writer Joseph Knox thought. He wouldn’t have given her any more thought were it not for his friend, Evelyn Mitchell. Another writer struggling to come up with a new idea, Evelyn was wondering just what happened to all the girls who go missing. What happened to the Zoe Nolan’s of the world?
Evelyn began investigating herself, interviewing Zoe’s family and friends, and emailing Joseph with chapters of the book she was writing with her findings. Uneasy with the corkscrew twists and turns, Joseph Knox embedded himself in the case, ultimately discovering a truth more tragic and shocking than he could have possibly imagined…
Just remember: Everything you read is fiction. (Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark)
Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding
Sonya used to perform on stage. She attended glamorous parties, dated handsome men, rode in fast cars. But somewhere along the way, the stage lights Sonya lived for dimmed to black. In their absence, came darkness–blackouts, empty cupboards, hazy nights she could not remember.
Haunted by her failed career and lingering trauma from her childhood, Sonya fell deep into an alcoholic abyss. What kept her from losing herself completely was Tommy, her son. But her love for Tommy rivaled her love for the bottle. Addiction amplified her fear of losing her child; every maternal misstep compelled her to drink. Tommy’s precious life was in her shaky hands.
Eventually Sonya was forced to make a choice. Give up drinking or lose Tommy–forever.
Bright Burning Things is an emotional tour-de-force–a devastating and nuanced look at an addict’s journey towards rehabilitation and redemption. (Credit: HarperVia)
Lear Wife by J.R. Thorp
Word has come. Care-bent King Lear is dead, driven mad and betrayed. His three daughters too, broken in battle. But someone has survived: Lear’s queen. Exiled to a nunnery years ago, written out of history, her name forgotten. Now she can tell her story.
Though her grief and rage may threaten to crack the earth open, she knows she must seek answers. Why was she sent away in shame and disgrace? What has happened to Kent, her oldest friend and ally? And what will become of her now, in this place of women? To find peace she must reckon with her past and make a terrible choice – one upon which her destiny, and that of the entire abbey, rests.
Giving unforgettable voice to a woman whose absence has been a tantalising mystery, Learwife is a breathtaking novel of loss, renewal and how history bleeds into the present. (Credit: Pegasus Books)
The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths
Newly minted PI Emma Holmes and her partner Sam Collins are just settling into their business when they’re chosen for a high-profile case: retired music-hall star Verity Malone hires them to find out who poisoned her husband, a theater impresario. Verity herself has been accused of the crime. The only hitch–the Brighton police are already on the case, putting Emma in direct competition with her husband, police superintendent Edgar Stephens.
Soon Emma realizes that Verity’s life intersects closely with her own–most notably in their mutual connection, Max Mephisto, who has returned to England from America with his children and famous wife, Hollywood star Lydia Lamont. Lydia, desperately bored in the countryside, catches wind of what Emma and Sam are up to and offers her services. What secret does Lydia know about Verity’s past?
The team of female PIs circle closer to the killer, with the Brighton police hot on their tail. The clues suggest they’re looking for a criminal targeting the old music-hall crew. How long will it be before that trail leads straight back to Max? (Credit: Mariner Books)
Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield
Blackmail lures Ava to the abandoned amusement park on Portgrave Pier. She is one of ten teenagers, all with secrets they intend to protect whatever the cost. When fog and magic swallow the pier, the group find themselves cut off from the real world. As the teenagers turn on each other, Ava will have to face up to the secret that brought her to the pier and decide how far she’s willing to go to survive. The teenagers have only their secrets to protect and each other to betray. (Credit: Sourcebooks Fire)
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa
Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for–or rather, demands–the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.
Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge–the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . .(Credit: HarperVia)
For The Kid I Saw In My Dreams Vol. 7 by Kei Sanbe
Thanks to information from the imposter, Senri now knows the intentions behind the despicable scheme laid by the “fire” man. Anxious about Kazuto, Senri decides to seek out cooperation with “that” person. And what exactly happened to Kazuto after leaving Senri? The secrets of his past are finally revealed! (Credit: Yen Press)
Winter Water by Susanne Jansson
Martin, who has always been drawn to the ocean, moves his wife Alexandra and their two young children move to his family’s idyllic summer cottage in the picturesque island village of Orust, on the west coast of Sweden. Martin begins to cultivate a mussel farm, where he soon runs into trouble with the locals.
One January weekend, when Martin is distracted by a ringing phone, he discovers that in those few moments, his young son has gone missing and his little red bucket is bobbing in the waves. Though his body is never found, it’s ruled an accidental drowning. Martin’s grief is all-consuming as he falls into a deep depression, withdrawing from his family and community.
When former police photographer Maya Linde arrives to Orust, she learns of the little boy’s disappearance and decides to do some investigating of her own. Martin and Maya grow closer as they learn the hidden truths of this town and the locals who have always mythologized the ocean.
Together they make a macabre discovery: other children have tragically died in the these waves, all on the same day in January, all in the exact same spot, though decades apart. Can it really be a coincidence, or is the ocean luring the children into its depths? As Maya and Martin grapple with a threat far greater than they ever imagined, they soon realize that the truth is actually much stranger than fiction…(Credit: Grand Central Publishing)
Murder At The Castle by M.B. Shaw
Portrait painter Iris Grey arrives at Pitfeldy Castle in the Scottish Highlands, at the request of Baron Jock MacKinnon.
Jock has commissioned Iris to paint a portrait of his fiancé, an American socialite Kathy Miller, ahead of their New Year wedding. Kathy invites Iris into her confidence, as she’s received a series of threatening notes asking her to call off the wedding. Iris begins to investigate, and when a body is discovered in the grounds of the castle, she fears for Kathy’s safety.
With the wedding fast approaching, Iris tries to solve a mystery that is caught up in a rarified world of family feuds, romantic intrigue, buried secrets, and murder.
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, these poems shine a light on a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future. (Credit: Viking Books)
The House of Whispers by Anna Kent
Expected Publication Date: December 14
Once you let her in, she’ll never leave…
Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…
When Grace returns to Abi’s life, years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting.
Now happily married, Abi’s built a new life for herself and put those days behind her. And yet as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell…
Abi’s husband, Rohan, can’t help but be concerned as his wife’s behaviour changes. As their happy home threatens to fall apart, he realises that there’s something deeply unnerving about Grace. Just what influence does this woman have over his wife, and why has she come back now?
A chilling story of guilt and obsession from Anna Kent. (Credit: HQ)
Deserter by Junji Ito
Expected Publication Date: December 21
A vengeful family hides an army deserter for eight years after the end of World War II, cocooning him in a false reality where the war never ended. A pair of girls look alike, but they’re not twins. And a boy’s nightmare threatens to spill out into the real world…This hauntingly strange story collection showcases a dozen of Junji Ito’s earliest works from when he burst onto the horror scene, sowing fresh seeds of terror. (Credit: Viz Media)
The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan
Expected Publication Date: December 28
Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.
Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.
New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined–and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast–before the killer silences him forever. (Credit: Mira Books)
Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea
Expected Publication Date: December 28
Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.
Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.
But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life is just the beginning. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried… (Credit: Kensington)
Trese 3: Mass Murders by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
Expected Publication Date: December 28
12 midnight at Metro Manila. Try to remain calm as you walk down the dimly-lit streets.
If you are suddenly surrounded by a pack of dogs that appear from nowhere – these might be segben tracking down their prey.
Avoid the butcher’s shop that’s open at this hour. It might be a front for a gang of vampiric aswang.
Yet, there’s an even deadlier threat to the city tonight. An ancient being that thrives on violence and the thirsts for blood has found new disciples in this modern-day city.
Sacrifice has been demand. Rituals must be executed.
When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Trese. (Credit: Ablaze)