Suspenseful Sizzlers for Summer 2021

The Best Psychological, Domestic Suspense And Thriller Reads For Summer 2021
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Suspenseful Sizzlers for Summer 2021

Suspenseful Sizzlers for Summer 2021

Summertime and the livin’ is… filled with great summer reads! So pull up a lawn chair, break out the SPF 50 and grab a cold drink. From domestic to psychological suspense and adult to YA, BooknBrunch’s Summer Sizzlers list is your go-to spot for a round-up of this summer’s hottest books.

1. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (365 pages) (Publication Date: June 1, 2021)

Malibu Rising - Suspenseful Sizzlers for Summer 2021

Image by Melanie Wagstaff

Why Read This?

Did you devour Daisy Jones and The Six? Swoon over Evelyn Hugo and her Seven Husbands? Then get ready for this summer’s release of Malibu Rising. This one had me at the opening. It set the tone and mood for a totally engrossing ride. While not a true thriller, the family dynamics in Malibu Rising created an intriguing and suspense-laden ride that kept me engaged to the final pages. 

Malibu Rising is a story about four siblings raised in the spotlight. Assumptions, scandals and secrets are plentiful making them and their celebrity dad a favourite for tabloid headlines. Orphaned but not abandoned, the Riva kids forge a tight bond that weathers all as long as they are together. The rise and fall of the Riva family becomes as captivating as the swells of the Malibu waves. 

In addition to Malibu’s beautiful beaches, luxurious living and epic waves, there are the fires. Fires that burn and scorch the land and sometimes fuel the fires that burn within. The Riva family are known for their lavish annual summer-end parties and this year the party will set the town ablaze in more ways than one! 

Taylor’s ability to create rich character-driven novels comes across as effortless which is a testament to her craftsmanship. Her distinct writing style where her unique use of prose and phrases conjure flawless and completely immersive imagery.  You not only see it – you feel it.

Malibu Rising is a summer sizzler that will have you reaching for sunscreen and an ice-cold beverage so you can soak up every last word.  

Bottom Line:

4.5/ 5 Brookies 

2. The Siren, Katherine St. John (402 pages) (Publication date: May 4, 2021)

Image via Melanie Wagstaff

Why Read This?

Are you looking for an escapist thriller this summer? Something salacious and scandalous? Perhaps a suspenseful ride featuring move-like casting and sets with celebrities at every turn?  If so, The Siren by Katherine St. John, author of The Lion’s Den, might be your perfect summer read!

 In The Siren, megastar Cole Power, is cast in his son’s indie film, along with Madison, an influencer-turned actress, and his ex-wife, Stella Rivers. The film and cast spark a tabloid firestorm that is fuelled by anonymously leaked photos and never-ending live streaming updates. Fortunately, the film’s producer Taylor has everything under control until she doesn’t. And then there is Felicity, Stella’s assistant. Super helpful with impeccable timing and a natural on and off the set. She also seems so familiar. 

The Siren is set in the idyllic Caribbean island of St. Genesius in summer’s sizzling and chaotic hurricane season. It’s touted to be a blockbuster and a comeback for some. However, the approaching hurricane threatens to “unearth long-buried secrets and unravel years of lies” forcing Stella, Taylor and Felicity to set aside their differences and unite against their biggest threat – something that will cause more damage than the storm ever could.

This was a fun and perfectly paced summer sizzler. I loved the bits of tabloid posts and reports, multiple points of view and timeline shifts. Soak up the sun and fun this summer with the seductive and sultry premise of The Siren.

Bottom Line:

5/5 Brookies 


3. You Will Remember Me, Hannah Mary McKinnon (335 pages) (Publication date: May 25, 2021)

 Flatlay of You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon lays on a cream blanket and brown chair

Image via

Why Read This?

This psychological and domestic thriller is definitely one you need to add to your summer TBR pile. You will come for the premise but you will stay for the knock-out ending! Then you will likely go and order McKinnon’s entire catalogue! 

In You Will Remember Me, Lily and Jack meet and fall in love, a concept Lily had once dismissed due to her checkered past.  Lily’s world comes crashing down when Jack goes out for a swim and doesn’t return. The search and investigation begin to uncover pieces that don’t add up, leading Lily to suspect that Jack may be holding secrets of his own. Maya has been looking for her estranged step-brother, Asher, since his disappearance. Her belief that he would return nor her loyalty, have ever wavered…no matter what may have happened in the past. Having her brother back is a miracle; driving Maya to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that he stays and that  the secrets of the past remain tucked away for good. 

I love and have read many thrillers and You Will Remember Me is a standout. Why? The ending. Or perhaps lack thereof in that it doesn’t tie up nicely. There are no pretty bows to wrap things up nicely at the end making this a story to remember! McKinnon delivers in providing the perfectly imperfect and completely delicious ending making You Will Remember Me summer suspense at its best!  

Bottom Line:

5/5 Brookies


4. The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris (368 pages) (Publication date: June 1, 2021)

 an eReader with the book cover of The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris stands on a windowsill with two potted cacti plants and the sun shining behind them.

Image via Melanie Wagstaff

Why Read This?

Nella is an aspiring editor. She is smart, witty, and curious. Her passion for editing is influenced by her idol who, like her, is Black and helped to bring a prominent Black author’s work to light and subsequently the best sellers list. For Nella, this is a feat she strives to replicate while working at Wagner, a dominantly white publishing house that would rival today’s top five. In walks Hazel. A new editorial assistant who is also looking to make a mark on the publishing industry. Being the only two Black women at Wagner, the two highlight experiences of microaggressions, worries of speaking up and fear of reprisal while assuaging white coworkers’ feelings around racism. The two navigate  with trepidation and frustration at the barriers of being Black in a very white environment – all the while dealing with a conspiracy when threatening notes are left for Nella to leave now!

This read has a little bit of everything. It had elements of The Devil Wears Prada, mixed with the Whisper Network with a touch of Black Mirror. There were moments of psychological suspense, satire alongside literary, critical reflection, everyday doldrums interspersed with workplace drama and a touch of Sci-Fi. It’s a view into the world of publishing that goes beyond editorial nuances. Instead, it reaches behind the curtain where glass ceilings are polished and shiny white pillars stand erect, creating a barrier where microaggressions keep diversity “in check.” 

The Other Black Girl is a slower simmer and subtle domestic suspense that many will enjoy. 

Bottom Line:

4 /5 Brookies 


5. Cold Hearted, Serena Valentino (305 pages) (Publication date: June 29, 2021)

Four books standing upright on a cream mantel with a brick wall in the background

Image via Melanie Wagstaff

Why Read This? 

You have no doubt seen these eye-catching books in your favourite book store, on Instagram, or on the shelves of the young and old alike.  Serena Valentino is back with her latest installment of the Disney Villains franchise, Cold Hearted featuring Lady Termaine. 

My kids and I love this series as we get to explore notorious villains from iconic Disney stories in a new light. The re-imagining of their backstory is fascinating and really lets us dig into perspective-taking. Are they really all bad? Rarely can things be boiled down with this naive simplicity. What happened in their journey? How did they get here? And, by here – the revered and feared evil stepmother of that girl who kept losing her slipper and had a way with mice and root vegetables. 

In Cold Hearted, Valentino provides readers with a gripping narrative that shows there is more than meets the eye with Lady Tremaine – a widowed single mother raising two stubborn teenage girls who just happen to fall for a knight in shining armour.  Sure, there are a few hiccups, but Lady Tremaine is a survivor and she’s not going to go down without a fight. 

Cold Hearted is a fascinating journey that is not to be missed! Take it from my kiddos – she’s misunderstood, imperfect, cruel and broken. This summer, gather the family around and hold up your version of that infamous glass slipper to discover the many facets of a truly intriguing character.

Bottom Line:

5/5 Brookies 


Bonus: The Good Sister, Sally Hepworth (386 pages) (Publication date: April 13, 2021)

A copy of The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth stands behind white window louvres

Image via Melanie Wagstaff

Why Read This? 

Sally Hepworth is one of my auto-read and auto-buy authors! She simply gets better and better with each book. She  is a trusted author that delivers punchy psychology thrillers with engaging characters and plots that are eerily believable!

I binged The Good Sister in 24 hours! There is so much to love and much more to love-to-hate about The Good Sister and its sibling duo, Rose and Fern. The toxicity and vexatious relationship were palpable. I found myself on a roller coaster of emotions where I was triggered by some of the mental health, grief, loss and trauma pieces yet deeply invested in Rose and Fern’s journey. 

Sally added interesting pieces related to sensory processing which were well researched. I simply loved Fern and Wally! The enmeshed relationships paired with unique neuro-divergence and well-being created a captivating narrative. And while I figured out the “twist”, I found the ending satisfying where I literally sighed after unconsciously holding my breath! 

This is an unputdownable propulsive novel that I highly recommend for psychological and domestic thrill-seekers.

Bottom Line 

4.5/5 Brookies 

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Melanie Wagstaff

Melanie Wagstaff lives with her high school sweetheart (now husband), two children, and cat. Melanie practices social work in child welfare and loves chocolate, hearty laughs, engaging discourse, and the occasional run. Melanie is a voracious reader and believes in the power of knowledge, the written word, and storytelling. 


Favourite book: Eek! Just one?! Fave read for 2020: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern 
Favourite brunch spot: My dining room table prepared by my hubby and complemented by fresh food from our local markets.


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