Summer always brings back memories of the freedom to read, read, read. With the heat wave where I live (and a bigger one on its way), now is a good time to grab a good book, sit in the shade, or inside at home or in the library, and escape the heat with a great story.

And for this month’s Other People’s Books, I’m so excited to share books, all just out this month, by three friends!

(Links to their websites in the descriptions; all books available at bookstores and libraries.)

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, by Heather Webber

I’ll admit it, I’ve been looking forward to hooting about this title for months, and not just because it is by one of my closest, dearest friends. It’s also soooo good. I was lucky enough to read an Advance Reader Copy of this book by the prolific Heather Webber. This novel is her debut women’s fiction with a touch of magical realism. All of her books are page-turning, but Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe rises to a new level. Enchanting, heartfelt, poignant, stirring.

Here’s the synopsis:

“Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.”

Shamed, by Linda Castillo

I love Linda’s series featuring Kate Burkholder, chief of police and former Amish, set in a small Amish community in Ohio. So, of course I’m excited to read this eleventh installment in this series–which always delivers with a twisty-turny plot, well-realized characters, and insights into human nature. I always have a feeling of “Ahhhh…” and sinking back into Linda’s well-realized world whenever a new title comes out.

Here’s the synopsis:

“The peaceful town of Painters Mill is shattered when an Amish grandmother is brutally murdered on an abandoned farm. When Chief of Police Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene, she learns that the woman’s seven-year-old granddaughter is gone, abducted in plain sight. Kate knows time is against her—the longer the girl is missing, the less likely her safe return becomes. The girl’s family is a pillar of the Amish community, well-respected by all. But Kate soon realizes they’re keeping secrets—and the sins of their past may be coming back to haunt them. What are they hiding and why?

Kate’s investigation brings her to an isolated Old Order Amish settlement along the river, a community where family is everything and tradition is upheld with an iron fist. But the killer is close behind, drawing more victims into a twisted game of revenge. Left behind at each new crime scene are cryptic notes that lead Kate to a haunting and tragic secret. What she uncovers threatens to change everything she thought she knew about the family she’s fighting for, the Amish community as a whole—and her own beliefs.

As time to find the missing girl runs out, Kate faces a harrowing choice that will test her convictions and leave one family forever changed.”

Deadeye, by Meredith Doench

Lovers of dark, page-turning thrillers will want to snap up Meredith’s Luce Hansen series. I’ve yet to read this third installment, but I’m looking forward to diving in!

Here’s the synopsis:

“Special Agent Luce Hansen’s Thanksgiving vacation with her new lover, forensic pathologist Harper Bennett, is cut short when she’s tasked with recapturing Deadeye, a vicious serial predator who has escaped custody. The timing couldn’t be worse, especially when Bennett seems to be struggling with the realities of Hansen’s work and questioning whether she’s willing to risk building a life with a woman who puts work first, even when the job puts her in the line of fire.

Hansen can’t put aside the chase even with her relationship on shaky ground. On the anniversary of Deadeye’s first kill, two brothers are shot while jogging along a quiet country road. Before Deadeye can claim another victim, Hansen and her team must track a killer who has proven to be an expert at hiding in plain sight. The stakes, both professional and personal, get even higher when Hansen is cut off from her team in rural Ohio and must fight for her very survival. As Bennett frantically searches for clues to Hansen’s disappearance, Deadeye’s hunt draws ever closer to home.”