Book Club Picks for August 2021

by Heather Caliendo
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It’s time to check out the book club picks for August 2021 list!

We’re officially in the last month of summer reading season! Have you read a lot of new books this summer? It’s been a bit hit or miss for me. However, I’ve just read two great books in a row—Project Hail Mary and We Were Never Here so I do feel I’m getting my reading routine back.

As much as I love summer books, it seems like the fall reading season is really where it’s at in 2021. So be sure to have my huge must-read book club picks for 2021 list bookmarked as I update that one constantly with new releases (I recently added the new Liane Moriarty, Anthony Doerr, Sally Rooney and more).

I’ve also noticed there are a ton of holiday/Christmas-themed books coming out this year so I’m going to put together a list for that as well. Lots of books to look forward to for the rest of 2021! I’m also currently putting together my 2022 list since it will be here before you know it!

Anyway, here’s the August 2021 book club picks list! I’m very excited about these novels. And they are all publishing at the beginning of the month.


Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

Historical fiction is one my favorite genres as it can introduce us to women of history that many of us are unfamiliar with. It’s truly the only genre where you can learn something new while also enjoying an entertaining story that takes you to another place and time. Sisters in Arms sounds like that kind of story—it follows the untold, true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Here’s the synopsis:

Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve.

As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else.

When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will at last be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves.

Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II. 

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on Aug. 3.


Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

My good friend Cindy Burnett of the Thoughts from a Page podcast told me about Once There Were Wolves and mentioned it’s a great one for book clubs as there’s plenty to discuss. The novel is set in the wild Scottish Highlands—I love stories with atmospheric settings. It sounds like an interesting premise—on one hand about preserving wildlife and the other, trying to solve a murder mystery. Very unique indeed! Here’s the synopsis:

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?

Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on Aug. 3.


We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

We Are the Brennans sounds like it falls in the similar vein of Ask Again, Yes, according to the book promotion. There is something about these type of generational stories and also the revelation of secrets. Typically, these are the ideal type of book club reads.

When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on Aug. 3.


The Husbands by Chandler Baker

The Husbands is pitched as a gender-swap Stepford Wives so this should be interesting!! I love these suburban tales where there’s something more going on with the picture perfect neighborhood than meets the eye. I anticipate this being a quick and easy summer read that will also make you think. Here’s the synopsis:

Nora Spangler is a successful attorney but when it comes to domestic life, she packs the lunches, schedules the doctor appointments, knows where the extra paper towel rolls are, and designs and orders the holiday cards. Her husband works hard, too… but why does it seem like she is always working so much harder?

When the Spanglers go house hunting in Dynasty Ranch, an exclusive suburban neighborhood, Nora meets a group of high-powered women—a tech CEO, a neurosurgeon, an award-winning therapist, a bestselling author—with enviably supportive husbands. When she agrees to help with a resident’s wrongful death case, she is pulled into the lives of the women there. She finds the air is different in Dynasty Ranch. The women aren’t hanging on by a thread.

But as the case unravels, Nora uncovers a plot that may explain the secret to having-it-all. One that’s worth killing for. Calling to mind a Stepford Wives gender-swap, The Husbands imagines a world where the burden of the “second shift” is equally shared—and what it may take to get there.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on Aug. 3.


The Turnout by Megan Abbott

What is it about ballet studios that lend itself to be the star of psychological thrillers? Maybe it’s the tense and competitive environment? The goal of perfection? Regardless, Megan Abbott takes a new spin on that familiar tale as she follows a family-run ballet studio. This one features a suspicious accident and a family full of secrets. Another family secrets one! Here’s the synopsis:

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.

Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, sidelined from dancing after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around one another, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker—a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration—an interloper arrives and threatens the sisters’ delicate balance.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on Aug. 3.

Happy reading!

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