This edition of All Booked was originally emailed to subscribers on June 6, 2023. To receive our literary newsletter in your inbox, sign up at

Hello, bookish friends!

I’m Tessa, the Indy’s Copy Chief and a lifelong book lover. I try to read a variety of authors, genres, and styles, but my go-tos are always mysteries and thrillers. I love feeling a spooky chill from the picture an author is painting, trying to puzzle out what really happened, and especially re-reading a book I enjoyed and picking up on clever details I might not have noticed the first time.

You may associate the mystery/thriller genre with rainy days or cozy, dark nights leading up to Halloween (I certainly do!), but just because summer’s around the corner doesn’t mean you can’t get into this genre any time of year. Here are some of my favorite thrillers or mysteries that feature summer vibes.

Credit: Courtesy

Lightning never strikes twice … right? An amazing trip to Chile with her best friend feels like just what Emily needed — until she finds Kristen surrounded by blood and broken glass with the body of a backpacker. Kristen says she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense after he tried to attack her … but Emily can’t shake the trauma of last year’s trip, when they found themselves in an eerily similar situation. Is it possible they’ve just been horribly unlucky, or is something else going on beneath the surface?

Andrea Bartz’s We Were Never Here is an escalation of building paranoia, painted with beautiful descriptions of Chile and Cambodia, and a reminder to all of us not to ignore our intuition.

Credit: Courtesy

Growing up, TV child stars Sam and Elli were thick as thieves, navigating the difficulties of a childhood in the spotlight with their unique twin connection. As adults, Sam’s substance-abuse issues and Elli’s devotion to her picture-perfect life have driven them apart. But when Sam hears that Elli has suddenly adopted a 2-year-old girl, is selling her beautiful Santa Barbara home and divorcing her husband, and has checked herself into a mysterious wellness facility without answering her phone, Sam finds herself concerned for her sister’s safety. With her new niece in tow, Sam begins to investigate her sister’s disappearance while working on her own issues that drove them apart in the first place.

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown is a contemplative, complex mystery with a loving dose of Santa Barbara imagery — and a name-drop of the Independent! Brown has an incredible ability to portray very different characters down to their most intimate details.

Credit: Courtesy

For more lighthearted fare, how does this sound: a close family of Chinese-Indonesian aunties and one dutiful daughter, a family business devoted to making every wedding the couple’s dream, a lavish wedding on an island resort, and a corpse in a cake cooler…oops. When Meddelin Chan accidentally kills her blind date, her mother and aunties come to the rescue to help her hide the body — which would have worked if the body hadn’t been accidentally shipped to the billionaire wedding the family is working the next day. Chaotic shenanigans ensue as Meddy and her mom and aunties try to pull off a perfect wedding and evade being charged with murder — and that’s before Meddy’s college love makes an appearance.

Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties is a hilarious, heartwarming story featuring the closeness of an immigrant family, sprinkled with laugh-out-loud-worthy comedy and a healthy dash of romance.

Credit: Courtesy

Fifteen years ago, three girls snuck out of their cabin at summer camp, leaving their friend Emma to watch them vanish into the night — never to be seen again, alive or dead. As an adult, Emma copes with her past through her successful paintings, and they catch the attention of the owner of Camp Nightingale, who wants to reopen the camp for one last summer — and have Emma return as a counselor. Emma seizes the chance for closure, and to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago. But the mysterious happenings at Camp Nightingale are only just beginning.

I’ve saved my favorite for last. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager is a book I’ve read multiple times and never gotten tired of. The basic premise of “What really happened all those years ago?” is one I find irresistible in a mystery story. The summer-camp setting combined with the trials of adolescent girlhood, guilt, secrets, and hidden agendas makes for a story I can get lost in over and over again.

Join me in welcoming in the summer reading season! I hope you’ve found something intriguing in this list. If you need me, I’ll be outside with a glass of sangria. Happy reading!



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.

In-Store Book Signing: Bruce Luyendyk
Wednesday, June 7, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Book Talk and Signing: Colleen Marie Delaney
Saturday, June 8, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Summer Reading Kick Off Party
Saturday, June 10, 11 a.m., Alameda Park

Read With Pride! Children’s Storytelling Event
Saturday, June 10, 2 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Local Author Book Signing Jana Goldbloom Brody
Saturday, June 10, 3 p.m., Tecolote Book Shop

Book Talk and Signing: John Vaillant
Tuesday, June 13, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

In-Store Book Signing:  Tamara Leitner
Wednesday, June14, 6 p.m., Chaucer’s Books

Bloomsday 2023
Thursday, June 16, 6 p.m., The James Joyce

Virtual Discussion:  Raising a Reader – Reading With a Toddler
Thursday, June 16, 6 p.m., Virtual


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.

National Monuments of the U.S.A. by Cameron Walker, Illustrations by Chris Turnham

No Lessons Learned, Vietnam: The Fighting, The Dying, A Legacy Replayed by Alfredo Bonadeo

The Color of Roses by Danielle Hahn

My Days of Sorrow and Joy in Rwanda by Betsy Kain

The Garden of Second Chances by Mona Alvarado Frazier

DON’T SAY A THING: A Predator, A Pursuit, and the Women Who Persevered by Tamara (Tammy) Leitner

Wolves of Wagria, Olaf’s Saga Book 3 by Eric Schumacher

Barbwire, Brothels and Bombs in the Night: Surviving Vietnam by Conrad Hogan

Growing from the Ashes by Sheila Lowe

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

Get News in Your Inbox


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.