As we approach the halfway point of summer, it’s time to look back at the hottest books of the season. Our list features books that earned the designation of New York Times bestseller, specifically reads that reached the top three spots on the Combined Print and Ebook Fiction Bestseller List since Memorial Day. If you need a great book for an upcoming vacation or a relaxed weekend at home, this list is a great place to start looking and features household names like John Grisham, Nora Roberts and James Patterson. Publishers’ descriptions included below.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Identical twin sisters who couldn’t look more alike… or live more differently.
Harper Frost is laid-back, easygoing. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She’s inherited her father’s rundown house on Martha’s Vineyard, but she can’t hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.
Two beautiful islands only eleven miles apart.
Tabitha Frost is dignified, refined. She prefers a fine wine and has inherited the impeccable taste of her mother, the iconic fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost. She’s also inherited her mother’s questionable parenting skills — Tabitha’s teenage daughter, Ainsley, is in full rebellion mode — and a flailing fashion boutique on Nantucket in desperate need of a cash infusion.
One unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.
After more than a decade apart, Harper and Tabitha switch islands — and lives — to save what’s left of their splintered family. But the twins quickly discover that the secrets, lies, and gossip they thought they’d outrun can travel between islands just as easily as they can. Will Harper and Tabitha be able to bury the hatchet and end their sibling rivalry once and for all? Before the last beach picnic of the season, there will be enough old resentments, new loves, and cases of mistaken identity to make this the most talked-about summer that Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have experienced in ages.
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose — and her mind has been shattered…
When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him — and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past — and the threat that follows in her wake — will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.
Camino Island by John Grisham
A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for 25 million dollars.
Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.
Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich
Buddhist monk Wayan Bagus lost his island of solitude and wants to get it back. The island was about two hundred miles northeast of Samoa. It had a mountain, beaches, a rain forest, and a volcano. And now it’s gone. Poof! Vanished without a trace.
Brilliant and boyishly charming Emerson Knight likes nothing better than solving an unsolvable, improbable mystery. And finding a missing island is better than Christmas morning in the Knight household. When clues lead to a dark and sinister secret that is being guarded by the National Park Service, Emerson will need to assemble a crack team for help. Since a crack team isn’t available, he enlists Riley Moon and his cousin Vernon. Riley Moon has a Harvard business degree and can shoot the eyes out of a grasshopper at fifty feet, but she can’t figure out how to escape the vortex of Emerson Knight’s odd life. Vernon has been Emerson’s loyal and enthusiastic partner in crime since childhood. He now lives in an RV behind Emerson’s house.
Together, this ragtag, mismatched trio will embark on a worldwide investigation that will expose a conspiracy one hundred years in the making.
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.
Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West’s most notorious characters.
A page-turner that draws on both meticulously researched history and an exuberant imagination, Dragon Teeth is based on the rivalry between real-life paleontologists Cope and Marsh; in William Johnson readers will find an inspiring hero only Michael Crichton could have imagined. Perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted, this enormously winning adventure is destined to become another Crichton classic.
The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
“I very much need to be dead.”
These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for—but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demand: find the truth, no matter what.
People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important—so terrifying—that they will exterminate anyone in their way.
But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless—and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.
No Middle Name by Lee Child
No Middle Name begins with “Too Much Time,” a brand-new work of short fiction that finds Reacher in a hollowed-out town in Maine, where he witnesses a random bag-snatching but sees much more than a simple crime. “Small Wars” takes readers back to 1989, when Reacher is an MP assigned to solve the brutal murder of a young officer found along an isolated forest road in Georgia — and whose killer may be hiding in plain sight. In “Not a Drill,” Reacher tries to take some downtime, but a pleasant hike in Maine turns into a walk on the wild side—and perhaps something far more sinister. “High Heat” time-hops to 1977, when Reacher is a teenager in sweltering New York City during a sudden blackout that awakens the dark side of the city that never sleeps. Okinawa is the setting of “Second Son,” which reveals the pivotal moment when young Reacher’s sharp “lizard brain” becomes just as important as his muscle. In “Deep Down,” Reacher tracks down a spy by matching wits with four formidable females — three of whom are clean, but the fourth may prove fatal. Rounding out the collection are “Guy Walks into a Bar,” “James Penney’s New Identity,” “Everyone Talks,” “The Picture of the Lonely Diner,” “Maybe They Have a Tradition,” and “No Room at the Motel.”
No suitcase. No destination. No middle name. No matter how far Reacher travels off the beaten path, trouble always finds him. Feel bad for trouble.
16th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Lindsay Boxer is learning to love again. After the picture-perfect world she shared with her husband, Joe, and their beautiful young daughter shattered under the weight of Joe’s double life, Lindsay is determined to put the pieces back together. But before she can welcome Joe back with open arms, their beloved hometown of San Francisco faces a threat unlike any the city — or the country — has ever seen.
When the danger hits even closer to home, Lindsay and Joe find a common cause and spring into action, with quick results. But what at first seems like an open-and-shut case quickly turns into anything but, when the suspect threatens everything that Lindsay has worked a lifetime to build. As Lindsay’s investigation is scrutinized and undermined by a criminal as brilliant as any high-powered defense lawyer, and her motives are called into question by everyone she thought had her back, not even the truth may be enough to save her.
In a desperate fight for her career — and her life — Lindsay must connect the dots of a deadly conspiracy before a fiendish enemy puts her on trial-and walks free with blood on his hands.
Filled with the trademark suspense and emotion that have made James Patterson the world’s #1 bestselling writer, 16th Seduction is the Women’s Murder Club’s toughest case yet–and an exhilarating thrill ride from start to finish.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely 15-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from — a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface — you never know what lies beneath.
Tom Clancy: Point of Contact by Mike Maden
Former U.S. Senator Weston Rhodes is a defense contractor with an urgent problem. His company needs someone to look over the books of Dalfan Technologies, a Singapore company—quickly. He turns to his old friend Gerry Hendley for help. Hendley Associates is one of the best financial analysis firms in the country and the cover for The Campus, a top-secret American intelligence agency. Rhodes asks for two specific analysts, Jack Ryan Jr., and Paul Brown, a mild-mannered forensic accountant.
Both Ryan and Brown initially resist, for different reasons. On the long flight over, Ryan worries he’s being sidelined from the next Campus operation in America’s war on terror. Brown — who was never very good with people — only worries about the numbers, and finding a good cup of tea.
Brown has no idea Jack works for The Campus but the awkward accountant is hiding secrets of his own. Rhodes has tasked him with uploading a cyberwarfare program into the highly secure Dalfan Technologies mainframe on behalf of the CIA.
On the verge of mission success, Brown discovers a game within the game, and the people who now want to kill him are as deadly as the cyclone bearing down on the island nation. Together Ryan and Brown race to escape both the murderous storm and a team of trained assassins in order to prevent a global catastrophe, even at the cost of their own lives.
Nighthawk by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
When the most advanced aircraft ever designed vanishes over the South Pacific, Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are drawn into a deadly contest to locate the fallen machine. Russia and China covet the radical technology, but the United States worries about a darker problem. They know what others don’t — that the X-37 is carrying a dangerous secret, a payload of exotic matter, extracted from the upper reaches of the atmosphere and stored at a temperature near absolute zero. As long as it remains frozen, the cargo is inert, but if it thaws, it will unleash a catastrophe of nearly unthinkable proportions.
From the Galapagos Islands to the jungles of South America to an icy mountain lake many believe to be the birthplace of the Inca, the entire NUMA team will risk everything in an effort to avert disaster… but they may be caught in a race that no one can win.
Shadow Reaper by Christine Feehan
Billionaire playboy Ricco Ferraro knows no other life. Being a shadow rider is in his blood — but so is a haunting desperation stemming from the secrets of his dark past. His recklessness puts not only his life at risk, but also the future of his entire family. To save them all, he must find a woman who can meet his every desire with a heat all her own…
Just when Ricco has given up hope, he meets her — a mysterious woman whose shadow connects with his. She’s someone looking for a safe haven from the danger that has stalked her over the last several months. In Ricco’s embrace, she finds one. But the darkness in which they so often find sanctuary can also consume them…
Surrender by Helen Hardt
Jonah Steel has fallen in love with Melanie Carmichael but refuses to make a commitment until he has solved the mystery of his family’s past. A new threat has surfaced, and he needs to eliminate it.
Melanie loves Jonah but has yet to surrender completely to his needs. Still, she wants a promise that he can’t yet make. While the ghosts of her past still hover around her, she joins him on his quest for answers. Together, they vow to find the truth.
But the deeper they dig, the more danger they uncover…
Which of these bestselling books have you read? Let us know in the comments!