HOTT READS: Volume One

Occasional updates on what I've been reading. I'll never review books I absolutely disliked, as that's a waste of all of our time, and won't review any books published by my imprint, though I will recommend books published by my parent company

You can also keep up with my recommendations on instagram (@lizho914) under the hashtag #hottreads 

I'd love to hear what YOU are reading, too! Comment below or email me 


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 

The first in a series of I believe eight 800+ page historical novels, Outlander will appeal to a very specific set. As my personal heroine Emily Nussbam wrote in her review of the TV adaptation: "We all have our demographic kinks, but if you take a brazen brunette from the nineteen-forties, send her back in time to eighteenth-century Scotland, dress her in corsets and furs, and leave her torn between her twentieth-century husband (a witty, ardent scholar) and her eighteenth-century crush, Jamie (a well-built redhead who is capable of “gentling” horses), well, welcome to my TiVo’s Season Passes." You and me both, Em. 

If any of that sounds appealing to you, and you have several hours/days to burn reading and the patience to push through a lot of complex Scottish history, this is the book for you. I must admit, I found the second half to be a bit plot heavy and hard to follow but the first half, exploring the relationship between Claire and Jamie is basically perfection. 

Bonus: the sex in this book is legitimately h-o-t-t hott. I read it on the way back from Halong Bay and almost had to make the driver pull over and drop me and Brian in a rice paddy for some alone time.  Fans of 50 Shades (ugh), consider this upgrade - the female lead is a complex human adult woman with a mind of her own, not a complete drip with a creepy inner monologue and has some (imagine this!) actual agency over her sexuality, but her hunky hunk is no less powerful and manly for it. There's even some rough stuff! Feminism and flogging. Win-win. 

Recommended for: Scotland fans. Lovers of historical fiction. Sex maniacs. People with lots of time on their hands. 

Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

A young, newly-married couple live on an isolated island off the coast of Australia where they man the lighthouse. A boat washes ashore with a dead man and a living baby. They make the rash decision not to report the boat, to keep the child as their own. When they return to the island on leave years later, they are forced to deal with the ramifications of their decision.

I grabbed this book as an impulse at B&N having heard good things from previous readers, but remained a little skeptical it might be a bit of a cliched, soft read. Whatever, I'm a snob. Happily I was proven wrong, as I often am when I get uppity and was amazed by how much I loved the book and how much it made me think - about responsibility, truth, motherhood, the thin line between right and wrong. I also found myself fascinated by the lives of lighthouse keepers and the science of the lights. 

This would be a perfect book club book, so much to dig into! I'd also love to hear how parents found the book, I can only imagine the moral questions raised by the couple's decision to parent this lost child would be much more harrowing to someone with a child of their own. 

Recommended for: Fans of historical fiction. Lovers of a good cry. Moms. People whose taste aligns with the Oprah's Book Club (and, despite my tendency towards snobbishness, I mean that as a good thing, I fall in that camp!) 

Monsters of Templeton

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

This blurs the "no books I work on" line ever so slightly as we're publishing Lauren's new novel in September (and holy CATS is it good!) but we didn't publish this one and she's one of my favorite writers so I say it's legit. 

Smart former goody-two-shoes Willie Upton returns to her childhood home in a small town in upstate New York in disgrace and running away from...something. Basically, girl's a mess. On the day she returns home, a strange creature is found floating in the lake in the middle of town. The rest of the novel is funny and sad and weird and brilliantly written, weaving Willie's summer in Templeton with the history of her ancestors, the founding family of the town. 

If sexy historical fiction is one of my demographic kinks, tales of kicky young women outrunning their mistakes and dysfunctional families and small towns with secrets are three more. Add truly top-notch writing and you've got yourself a winner. I lost myself in Templeton with Willie and was so sad when the book came to a close.

Recommended for: People looking for a mix of literary prowess and accessible storytelling. Anyone from Cooperstown, NY (on which the town of Templeton is based!). Everyone who is cool and wants to read a kickass novel!

The Fever

The Fever by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott has long been on my to-read list and hot damn, why did I wait this long. Set in a grey, small New England town, The Fever almost reads like The Crucible set in a modern high school. At the center of the book is a family: the father a high school teacher and his two HS age kids. When girls in the school suddenly become afflicted with strange illnesses - seizures, hallucinations, spells of hysteria - the town becomes a hotbed of paranoia, blame and anxiety. 

Abbott masterfully embodies both the teenage and adult minds and tells a story that is really about a community and about fear: of hormones, of viruses, of teenage (female, mind you) sexuality. Compulsively readable, the kind of book you devour for the plot and then realize, oh that was more than just a thriller

Recommended for: People who love high school coming of age stories. Thriller fans. Actual teenage witches. Parents whose kids are no longer teenagers and won't stress out about what they're up to with their friends all the time (nothing great!) 

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book has been on the top of my to-read list since getting a lot of buzz as "the next Gone Girl" (a mantle thrown on every female penned psychological thriller since GG hit shelves) last summer and I finally put it on my kindle. It was...good. I didn't find it as intense as Gone Girl or any of Gillian Flynn's novels (all of which I adore) or some other psychological thrillers currently on the market, but I did find myself unable to put it down, plopping right into a chair to keep reading after work, instead of turning on the TV, which is always the sign of a compelling read.

Kate is a single mom with a powerful law career, whose life is thrown into tragedy when her teenage daughter Amelia jumps to her death from the roof of her tony Brooklyn private school. Or, did she really jump? The story goes back and forth between Kate in real time and Amelia in the months leading to her death, as Kate tries to solve what really happened to her daughter. I guessed some of the plot twists but was genuinely surprised by others. Again, the most horrifying parts of this novel, much like The Fever, were the manipulations and insecurities of teenage girls and the shenanigans that rich high school kids are getting themselves into. My kids are living in a damn bubble, mark my words! 

On that note, the author lives in and set her novel in my exact neighborhood and I SWEAR based the school (which I keep spelling shool, no "c' maybe I need to go back to shool??) where Brian teaches. I tried to look it up but found no proof. But so many of the locations and characters were so true to my life, I think that may have added to my enjoyment. 

Overall I'd say not the best thriller ever but definitely a fast, compelling, twisty-turny read.

Recommended for: People still mourning the end of Gossip Girl. Fans of psychological thrillers.  People on the hunt for "the next Gone Girl." Park Slope residents. Parents whose kids are really, really, really far out of high school like maybe they're 80 or 90 and they don't have to worry about what their also super old children are up to with their friends. High school kids are NUTS guys! Nuts.

(Or maybe it's just boring to write books about well behaved / adjusted nerds who get straight A's and tell their moms everything and don't even get to second base before graduation? Maybe that!)

But I digress. There you have it folks. Some hott-hott-hott reads for your enjoyment. I'd love to hear, what are YOU reading these days?? I'm all ears.

And eyes.

For the pages. Of the books. You get it.  

xoxo Liz Ho