July 2021 Novel Ideas: 31 Quick Lit Reviews

July 2021 Novel Ideas
July 2021 Novel Ideas: 31 Quick Lit Reviews 35

July 2021 Novel Ideas has over 30 quick book reviews, which might be a pandemic high. As working moms, we haven’t had much down time. Now with our kids back in camp, our reading time is finally trending upwards!

I was thrilled to get through a stack of advanced reader copies this month. Those are books we get before they are released to the public. But with virtual schooling, I was very behind so many of the reviews below are for books that have already come out.

Jackie her a personal best this month by reading more physical copies than audiobooks. She’s been soaking up the reading time with all three of her kids away at overnight camp.

Take a look at the list below and let us know which books in our July 2021 Novel Ideas stacks you would be most likely to read.

Did you read any and disagree with our reviews? We love to hear everyone’s thoughts in the comments!

As always, for real-time reviews, check us out over on Instagram! We love to chat there with everyone in real-time. 😊

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

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July 2021 Novel Ideas: 31 Quick Lit Reviews 36

Kirsten’s July 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

the husbands

The Husbands by Chandler Baker

Ladies, get your book clubs geared up for Chandler Baker’s newest novel. It’s part mystery, part social commentary, but it’s the latter that packs a punch in this contemporary fiction.

Baker examines the mental load that women carry as wives and mothers, particularly working women, and how it differs from what society expects of men.

Murder in the desirable Dynasty Ranch neighborhood has lawyer and prospective buyer, Nora, looking into what happened. With all the Stepford-style husbands she is meeting, she’s starting to wonder what kind of place Dynasty Ranch is after all. This is a perfect book for book clubs, it is such a thought-provoking book. You will have such a great discussion about this book about motherhood.

Thanks to Flatiron for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
We are the Brennans

We Are the Brennans by Tracy Lange

I want to be a Brennan. There. I said it. I just loved this book about a close-knit family with secrets in their closets.

After Sunday gets in a terrible accident in LA, she comes home to reunite with her family and face the experiences that made her runaway five years ago.

There is a reason this book made our best Vacations reads of 2021 list. It’s just so good!

Thanks to Celadon for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Family Plot

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

CREEPY THRILLER VIBES ALERT. The premise of this haunted house book is perfect for true-crime documentary fanatics. 

The Lighthouse children are named after famous murder victims. They live in a creepy house, known as murder mansion to locals, and live an isolated life.

After their father dies, Dahlia and her two siblings return home for the first time since her twin, Andy, disappeared 9 years earlier. When they bury their father, they find Andy’s body already in his family plot.

Dahlia vows that she won’t leave again until she uncovers Andy’s murderer, but the family secrets she unearths might turn her into the next victim.

Thanks to Atria Thrillers for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
to love and to loathe

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Walters

This was my first Martha Waters book, but it won’t be my last. I love a good historical romance, they are just so civilized and free of the modern nonsense that gets in the way of love today.

Set over the course of a 14-day house party, Diana and Jeremy’s friends-to-lovers story is an utter delight.

Thanks to Atria Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Maiden Voyages

Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans

Maiden Voyages looks at the ladies who worked Ocean Liners like the Titanic and the unbelievable challenges they faced. I was in awe as I listened to this story of ships being sunk by icebergs and wartime submarines. 

The stories of unruly passengers, hurricanes, and the sacrifices of leaving their families to help others were unbelievable. I was so engrossed that I kept forgetting the book was non-fiction.

If you love women’s history, the history of travel, or stories about the Titanic, this is the book for you!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The DEvil and the Heiress

The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. George

The follow-up to Harper St. George’s Gilded Age romance series was another fun pick featuring the younger Crenshaw heiress.

This time, Violet Crenshaw, looking to escape and arranged marriage to an odious man, looks to the Earl of Leigh to help her escape to Scotland. But the Earl has a different plan with the bubbly lady he wishes to call his own. This is another one of the books about Scotland that is a must-read for romance fans.

Thanks to Berkley for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The Very Nice

The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman

The quirky personality of Ava, the protagonist in The Very Nice Box, is reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant. Being inside Ava’s unique brain was a real treat.

Ava works as an engineer at a furniture company similar to Ikea. She has the same routine every day and is rather isolated socially until Mat Putnam bursts into her life.

As her backstory unfolds, this book goes from romance to thriller in the most delightful way. One of the most original vacation books of 2021. It’s a must-read for laughs and suspense and is a perfect pick for books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Thanks to HMH Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blush by Jamie Brenner

This is a departure from Brenner’s previous books that have all been set in coastal towns. This story takes place in a vineyard!

Three generations of women must come together to save the family home and livelihood by saving the failing vineyard. This would not be an easy task on any day but, they are also fighting against sexism and the belief that a women’s role is elsewhere.

Vivian, Leah, and Sadie must each confront their pasts and their own demons in order to come together in this great beach reads.

Thanks to Putnam for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the most beautiful girl in cuba

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Chanel Cleeton is back with a prequel to the Perez family story. This time, she examines their ancestor, Marina during the 1896 war between Spain and the US on Cuban soil. This is one of our favorite Gilded Age books set internationally.

Evangelina Cisneros, dubbed The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by the New York newspapers, and journalist Grace Harrington’s stories are also the focus of this biographical novel.

Cleeton’s vivid imagery and captivating stories make learning about Cuba’s tragic history compelling and help give context to Cuba we know today.

Thanks to Berkley for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
whats mine and yours

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

What a story. Sadly relevant still in today’s world, this story covers a time when a school district in North Carolina decides to bus black children from a poorer area into the white wealthy high school.

Told across 3 timelines, we see how the decision impacts two families on either side of the divide. How entwined will they become? How entwined were they in the past? and how will all of it affect their future?

Thought-provoking and relevant, this would be an excellent book club pick.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Sanatorium

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

February 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

Oh boy, was this a creepy haunted house book! I wish I had chosen to read it during the wintertime instead of the summer because seeing snow while reading it would have made it that much creepier.

With dead bodies piling up, and a blizzard keeping the guests of the fancy sanatorium-turned-hotel stuck inside, will Elin be able to solve the mystery before she becomes a victim herself? This is such a great blizzard book for mystery book lovers and is perfect for anyone who loves locked room mysteries or isolation novels.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Last Thing He Told me

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

May 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I raved about this book when I read it earlier this month! Well-chosen, Reese! The story of a stepmother and her daughter as they try to find the girl’s father after his abrupt departure. This is a powerful book about motherhood.

This mystery has so much heart as you see Hannah bond with and try to protect her new stepdaughter, Bailey. I did not see the ending of this book coming, but absolutely adored it. This is one of the mystery books that will keep you turning the page.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Seven Days in June

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

June 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

The latest Reese’s Book Club pick was quite a unique read. It was billed as a romance but that doesn’t do this novel justice.

Yes there are some steamy scenes, but it also deals with childhood trauma, drug addiction, racial issues, and single motherhood.

It was much heavier than I expected and had I been more in the mood for such a book, I think I would have rated it higher.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Oh, Hillary. Who would you have become without Bill? Have you found yourself pondering this before?

Then look no further than Sittenfeld’s contemporary fiction story of what would have happened to Hillary had she ditched Bill when he was unfaithful before their marriage.

It had me longing to know what course our country would be on had the events of this political novel been true.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The downstairs girl

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Some YA historical fiction books are incredibly appealing to adult readers, and other YA stories fall flat.

Unfortunately, the latest Reese’s Book Club pick falls into the latter category for me. I was never able to fully get into the story of a lady’s maid turned advice columnist because the writing never drew me in.

I cared about what happened to Jo but I found myself bored throughout this Gilded Age book for teens.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Convenience Store Woman and other books set in Japan

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator)

The quirky character in this novel reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant. I loved being inside Keiko’s unique mind.

Keiko has been working at the same convenience store for 18 years. Listening to her inner monologue as she tries to conform with society is at times humorous and at other times sad. I would gladly have spent another 100 pages with Keiko in this delightful contemporary fiction book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Chosen and the Beautiful and other July 2021 Novel Ideas books.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Vo Nghi

I wanted to like this fantasy retelling of The Great Gatsby. This one is told from Jordan’s perspective and she’s reinvented as a Vietnamese adoptee with magical powers.

I just struggled with it because I love the original Gatsby so much. While I liked seeing the story unfold from Jordan’s POV, I was distracted by the random magical elements in this version of the story.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
The Paris Apartment and other July 2021 Novel Ideas
July 2021 Novel Ideas: 31 Quick Lit Reviews 37

Jackie’s July 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

a woman of intelligence

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe

I’ve read so many books about females as spies in recent years and I love them so much. I really love hearing about these empowering women who are not written about nearly enough even though they have been around for centuries.
I loved that was that Katharina’s life as a mother and wife balancing the expectations of women at the time was explored in addition to her work as an FBI informant. I have to admit that it was difficult to listen to the way her husband spoke to her. The expectation of women of the day left me feeling very uncomfortable which is a credit to the writing and the narration.
Her life in the McCarthy era while helping to fight communism was shown in all its womanly hardships and I loved that.
I’d love to read this with my book club and discuss it together, because there is so much to talk about with this one.

I’d recommend it for fans of The Alice Network and Code Name Helene. Thank you Macmillan Audio for my copy of this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Is There Still Sex and the City and other July 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell

I don’t know how I feel about this book. On the one hand, it has Bushnell’s signature wit and humor. On the other, parts are drawn out and repetitive and more depressing than funny. I am torn right down the middle in this book that explores love and relationship in middle age.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
The dead and the dark

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Something is dark and scary in Snakebite, Oregon where teenagers go missing and the weather is wonky. When Logan Ortiz-Woodley travels to her father’s hometown to film their ghost hunters television show, her dad becomes a suspect and is certainly acting strange.

This YA paranormal book f was a really different read than anything I had read before and is one of our favorite fantasy books for teens.

Thank you Macmillan Audio for my copy of this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen

Oh, how I loved this book.

Part historical fiction, part mystery, and part love story, this book was so well written and the story was delivered perfectly. This is one of the picks from the list of books set in Paris that is dual-timeline.

In 2017, Aurelia inherits an apartment in Paris when her grandmother dies. She is not prepared for what she finds inside the apartment that she never knew existed. Now she must get the help of an art restorer to discover the history and the mystery surrounding the apartment and its contents.

In 1942, Estelle is living in Paris under Nazi occupation. When the Germans come to take away her beloved friends, Estelle does everything she can to help them. This is a dual-timeline pick from books about WWII that should not be missed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Home Before Dark and other July 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

It is so strange that I have read four paranormal fiction this month! Maggie Holt spend three weeks in a house that became the subject of a best-selling novel written by her father.

During the three weeks in the house, the family was haunted by ghosts before there were eventually forced to flee. 25 years later, Maggie is shocked to learn that her father still owned the house when he died and the house is now hers.

As Maggie returns to the house to find out what really happened, she might be in for more than she bargained for. Even though this is last in our list of Riley Sager books, it was definitely a fun read that we would highly recommend.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Tunnel of Bones and other July 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

I really liked the first book in this series and I was excited to read this one. But, unlike the first one, I found Cassidy annoying and selfish.

Cassidy is in Paris with her parents and best friend Jacob who is also a ghost. The story itself was well-written but I could not get over how annoying Cassidy was throughout the entire book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
We are the Brennans

We Are the Brennans by Tracy Lange

This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a family drama book. After a terrible car accident, Sunday is convinced to move back home with her family to recover and help with the family business that is close to financial ruin.

But, what she finds are the family secrets long buried and the potential to cause her family further disruption. This story is about the bonds of family and the secrets we keep to protect those we love.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Last Summer at the Golden and other July 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Last Summer at the Golden by Elyssa Friedland

I grew up going to my grandparents cabin that was nothing like the grandeur of the Golden in its heyday. However, the families that came together year after year put on shows and had a community that felt very much like the Golden.

Reading this book felt like reading summer. The Weingolds and Goldmans must come together to decide the fate of this once pristine Catskills vacation spot. It has all the drama and scandals erupt in this delightful summer read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the last graduate

The Last Graduate (The Scholomonce #2) by Noami Novik

Naomi Novik is a master of fantasy and this book os no exception. Every time I read one of her books, I am amazed at the worlds she is able to create.

The second book in the Scholomance series starts on the first day of senior year. El’s mother has warned her to stay away from Orion, the school seems to be out to get El and they have graduation to prepare for. Fair warning, the ending of this book had me scream out loud and practically throwing the book against the wall. Don’t say I didn’t warn you but it was worth every second. When does the third book come out?

Thank you so much to Penguin/ Ballantine/Del Ray and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

This book was the perfect break I needed into a world of romance. The idea of a bunch of men getting together to read romance novels to try and improve their relationships is amazing.

Although now that I think of it, maybe this book is a fantasy. This book is a perfect light read that I finished in a day.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the other black girl

The Other Black Gil by Zakiya Harris

Part contemporary fiction, part thriller and part social commentary, this book had me feeling anxious from the first page.

Nella is the only black women working at Wagner publishing and is so happy when Hazel starts working in the cubicle next to her. Suddenly, Nella starts to feel left behind and shut out. And then the notes start coming- leave Wagner now.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat all while feeling uncomfortable. I couldn’t read it fast enough.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A hex for Danger

Hex for Danger (An Enchanted Bay Mystery #2) by Esme Addison

I did not read the first book in this series but now I want to go back and read it. It was not necessary to understand and enjoy this cozy mystery that is also an adult fantasy novel.

Aleksandra runs an herbal apothecary with her family in the hall town of Bellamy Bay. Other than the fact that Alex and her family are descendants of mermaids and they can do a little magic, Bellamy Bay is a perfectly ordinary town.

When the town arranges for a well-known artist to paint a mural for the town’s annual mermaid festival and she turns up dead, secrets threaten to spill.

Thank you Spark Point for my copy of this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
girl serpent thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

“There was and there was not.” This fairy tale adaptation is about a girl cursed with being poisonous to anyone who touches her and her quest to free herself from her curse.

What could have been another princess in distress story became a story about finding your own power and using it in this young adult fantasy novel

Rating: 3 out of 5.
under the whispering door

Under the Whispering Door by T.J Klune

How many stars can I give? T.J Klune has done it again with the wonderful book. House on the Cerulean Sea was my favorite book last year and I am not sure that anything will top it. I read it in a day and loved every minute of this wonderful book.

Wallace is dead. When the reaper collects him at his funeral and brings him to a strange tea shop, Hugo is waiting with the promise of helping him cross over. This light fantasy will make you smile until the last page. If you are looking for a book for fall, this ghost book is five stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Which July 2021 Novel Ideas books will make your to-read stack?

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