Hello, book lovelies!

I mentioned it briefly several months ago and it’s been evident in my recommendations, but I have been taking a break from reading thrillers. Thriller for a few years was my go-to genre. I loved the twists and turns and the “thrill” of the reading experience. Since having my daughter almost a year ago, I have been keeping my distance from those types of stories, but I’m finally feeling a slight draw back towards them. Since the new year, I’ve picked up a few thriller-ish books that I’ve enjoyed, but what I’m discovering is that I have a love for horror. Now, hear me out. I am not a horror movie person. I get scared and I definitely have nightmares after. However, the horror genre in books tends to be a lot more nuanced and subtle — or at least the books I’ve been picking up are. Of course there are the big slashers, Stephen King, and other “traditional” horror, but there is a whole other side to horror that is eerie and unsettling. Those are the types of horror that I’ve been loving, and I think are having a well-deserved moment in the publishing industry. Below are a couple mystery-thrillers that I’ve read recently and one horror that I read and really loved.

I am a big believer in going into a book knowing as little as possible. I try not to read too much of the synopses or reviews, since most of them over-share. My pitches below are short and sweet just for that reason.

Credit: Courtesy

Let’s jump right in with the horror. Foe by Iain Reid is a sci-fi horror where we follow Junior and his wife Henrietta. The couple lives on a small rural farm, so when Junior learns he has been selected for a mandatory mission and will be away for the farm for years, it’s quite the news.

This novel is eerie the entire time. You know something isn’t right, but we are kept in the dark right along with the main characters. I absolutely loved this book. I could not put it down, somehow the uneasiness of everything was addicting.

Credit: Courtesy

A couple newsletters ago I talked about my love for a well-done locked room thriller. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz was just that. Our main character gets the opportunity to spend a month at her favorite author’s home to work on her writing. She is joined by a select few who also get chosen for this unique experience. It’s not before long that we start to see things aren’t as they seem.

This thriller is perfect for winter. I read it in a weekend and had a great time.

Credit: Courtesy

I’ve talked about the Finlay Donovan series before, but the 3rd installment just came out at the end of January, and it did not disappoint. I really loved this third book – definitely more than the second.

In this series we follow Finlay Donovan, a struggling author and stressed-out single mom who is just trying to make ends meet. At the beginning of the series, Finlay meets her literary agent at a Panera to discuss the ending to her latest project. The woman sitting next to them mistakes Finlay for an assassin and leaves a note asking her to kill her husband for a cool $50k. Things only get more complicated from there in this hilarious and fun mystery-thriller series.

As always, I would love to hear from you. Who are some of your favorite Black authors? Do you have any specific book recommendations you’d think I’d enjoy? Let me know!

Your smitten bookworm, Emily


Below, you will find a few bookish events coming up in Santa Barbara. If you are hosting a bookish event in Santa Barbara, be sure to submit the event to our online events calendar.

Book Signing for The Art of Symeon Shimin
Saturday, March 18, 2 p.m., Voice Gallery

Book Launch and Signing: From Lyme to Light
Sunday, March 19, 2 p.m., Paradise Found

In-Store Book Signing Caroline DeLoreto
Tuesday, March 21, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Straight from The Source: A Book Signing
Wednesday, March 22, 5 p.m., UCSB Library

In-Store Book Signing Charles Healey
Wednesday, March 22, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Local Authors Berkeley and Kristin Johnson
Thursday, March 23, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

In-Store Book Signing Barbara Greenleaf
Monday, March 27, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books


We at the Independent get many books sent to us by local authors, sometimes too many! It’s practically impossible for us to read and review them all, but just because we are busy bees does not mean that they aren’t worth the attention. In an attempt to not completely drop the ball, we have compiled a list of books here that have a local spin. They are all either written by a local author, feature someone in our community, or have another tie to Santa Barbara. I urge you to look through this list. Perhaps you will find your new favorite read!

The following are the most recent titles that have been sent to us. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

Sex Talks: The Five Conversations That Will Transform Your Love Life by Vanessa Marin

Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards: The Making of Make Way for Ducklings by Emma Bland Smith

If you are a local author and would like us to feature your book in this section, please email allbooked@independent.com with the subject line “Local Author Spotlight.”


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