Amazingly Atmospheric Reads for September by Lillie Vale


[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Lillie Vale to the site today. She’s sharing some atmospheric reads that are perfect for September. Take it away, Lillie!]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! PSL is back, Halloween décor is on the shelves, and the air is just starting to get crisp. We’re on the precipice of autumn, which is the perfect time for all those moody atmospheric reads.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

Scorned witches falling in love while bonding over a vengeance pact to take down a warlock in a magical town? This is my favorite kind of town—the one you want to step into and find the magic nestled in every corner.

Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh 

This domestic thriller gives me Big Little Lies vibes and focuses on the inhabitants of an exclusive cul-de-sac where a woman went missing ten years ago—and whose skeleton was just discovered in the bush of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The microcosm of a community where everyone’s a suspect set against the lush New Zealand setting? This sounds perfect to curl up with under a blanket.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

With Christie-esque flair, this suspenseful isolation novel had me racing to finish! A group of friends from Oxford meeting for New Years at a hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands where the fragile, tenuous bonds of their friendship all start to come unraveled? Catnip! I’ve re-read this one several times and this manor-house murder is so, so perfect for the cooler months when you start to yearn for roaring fires, ski slopes, and secluded chalets. Oh, and don’t forget that whiff of murder in the air!

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Dark academia is having a serious moment right now, and if campus thrillers are your jam, you’ll love this one. It’s a fabulous read-alike to The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. Steeped in menace and thrumming with tension, this uneasy tale of ambition, secrets, and obsession is told in dual timelines: a murder during undergrad and the present-day ten-year-reunion set at North Carolina’s Duquette University.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia 

Set in 1950s Mexico, this supernatural threat in this horror-thriller is palpable on every page. Broody, moody, and spooky! An autumnal mood read at its finest. Featuring an unlikely socialite turned driven detective, desperate to discover the truth about her cousin’s chilling aristocrat husband and their ancestral home, the lush prose is drenched in dread. Unputdownable.

Others to check out: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, The Hitman’s Daughter by Carolyne Topdijan, The Gold Persimmon by Lindsay Merbaum.

But if you’re not quite ready to relinquish books that scream quintessentially summer, look no further! I’ve got you.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

This book is so summer-y, y’all. A surly sea captain with a heart of gold and a bubbly It-Girl in exile butting heads (and other parts) in this ridiculously charming Pacific Northwest beach town? Populated with lovable locals, this is absolutely a quaint town you’ll want to meander through.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala

Cozy, foodie, and frothing with fun, this light-hearted mystery is a great read-alike to Jesse Q Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties. With an abundance of food descriptions chock-full on almost every page, you’ll be craving the Filipino food in Tita Rosie’s restaurant! Cooking in a hot kitchen during the summer is the worst, but I’d totally brave it for the ube crinkle cookie and lumpia recipes!

The Layover by Lacie Waldon

Getting stranded with your nemesis at a luxury resort in tropical Belize? This is a sultry set-up in more ways than one! If you’re looking for a fun staycation read that will give you all the summer feels without any of the travel, this is a great one to add to your list!

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

This utterly transportive novel will take you back in time to meet our heroine, a little-known literary legend who made an enormous impact as personal librarian of rare books and art at Piermont Morgan Library during an era when her biggest secret could cost her everything. An important, illuminating novel about identity and inequality, spotlighting one of New York’s most fascinating, powerful women.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

No one’s out here doing it like Emily Henry. Steeped in summertime feels, this book feels like the epitome of summer. A friends-to-lovers slow-burn romance with all the warmth of a decade of vacationing with your best friend, your emotions will run amuck. Amuck, I tell you! This is one of those so-happy-I-cried kind of novels, some scenes so bittersweet (and others glowing with hope), you’ll never want summer (or the story) to end.

Others to check out: Shipped by Angie Hockman, The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett, When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski, New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan.

Happy reading!

About the Author:

Lillie Vale is the author of the young adult novels Small Town Hearts and Beauty and the Besharam (forthcoming from Viking Children’s). She writes about secrets and yearning, complicated and ambitious girls who know what they want, the places we call home and people we find our way back to, and the magic we make. Born in Mumbai, she grew up in Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota, and now lives in an Indiana college town. The Shaadi Set-Up is her debut adult romantic comedy.

The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale, out now!

In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they’re a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.

High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency. 

While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all….

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