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FIRST Book Club Recommends ‘The Last Hope’ and More Thrilling Titles for July 5 to July 11

This week's title recommendations include historical fiction, romantic comedies, mysteries and more!


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With the summer holidays in full swing, it’s the perfect time to pick up a new book. FIRST Book Club is here with a plethora of recommendations for the week of July 5 to July 11, with historical mysteries, romantic comedies and family sagas dominating the list.

FIRST is particularly drawn to The Last Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal, her anticipated new title that wraps up the Maggie Hope series in an epic fashion. For the mystery lovers among us, The Fury by Alex Michaelides is another recent release that has readers on the edge of their seats, furiously turning the page to find out who makes the suspect list.

For all of our must-read book recommendations for the week of July 5 to July 11, keep scrolling!

Historical Mystery: The Last Hope 

by Susan Elia MacNeal 

The Last Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal 

“All the other books in Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope series took me on quite a ride,” says Sienna Sullivan, FIRST Editorial Assistant. “So I was eager to dive into this epic series finale!” For her final mission, Maggie—spy-extraordinaire—joins forces with fashion designer Coco Chanel to expose and dismantle the physicist behind Nazi Germany’s nuclear program. “MacNeal balances intrigue, suspense and even a bit of romance— and she always steeps this fictional world in just enough history for it to be convincing,” notes Sienna. “The final installment of Maggie Hope’s adventures ties a satisfying bow onto these beloved spy tales!” (Penguin Random House, 2024)

Family Saga: The Townsend Family Recipe for Disaster 

by Shauna Robinson 

The Townsend Family Recipe for Disaster by Shauna Robinson 
Sourcebooks Landmark

“My grandma recently passed away and a good friend suggested this heartwarming book to lift my spirits,” says Carissa Mosness, FIRST Assistant Digital Editor. “In many ways, this story helped me deal with that grief.” Mae Townsend always dreamed of reconnecting with her estranged Black family in the South, so she is devastated to learn of her grandmother’s death. Next, Mae heads south and discovers she might have more in common with her family than she thought — and that some secrets are not better off buried. Says Carissa, “Robinson beautifully showcases all the stages of grief and love that every family experiences.” (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2024)

Romantic Comedy: Birding with Benefits

by Sarah T. Dubb

Birding with Benefits by Sarah T. Dubb
Gallery Books

“This fun cover and quirky title initially caught my attention,” admits Lauren Stachiw, FIRST Beauty Director. “But when I heard it was the perfect romance read for Christina Lauren fans, I was sold.” Celeste is divorced and about to be an empty nester, so when a friend asks her to team up with his buddy John for an event, she accepts. It turns out that John doesn’t need a date like she thought—he actually needs a partner for Tucson’s biggest bird-watching contest in an effort to launch his own birding business. What follows is a hilarious chain of events that include Celeste agreeing to a fake relationship with John, hiking adventures filled with amateur bird-watching and a big dose of unexpected chemistry. As John and Celeste continue to spend more time together, their connection becomes harder to ignore. “The premise of the story was so unique, funny and charming,” says Lauren. “I also found the romance sweet and spicy — which is the best combo, in my opinion!” (Gallery, 2024)

Historical Fiction: The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

by Allison Pataki

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki
Ballantine Books

“After seeing Amy Schumer’s brilliant portrayal of Marjorie Post in the Netflix movie Unfrosted, then seeing Marjorie pop up in Apple TV+’s Palm Royale, I just had to read this book about the heiress to the Post Cereal Company empire,” says Patty Bontekoe, FIRST Executive Editor. After her father’s success, Marjorie becomes a high-society wife and mother. Then she makes history with her business acumen, which was unheard of for a woman in the 1900s. Says Patty, “I loved every minute of this peek into the extravagant life of a very powerful woman!” (Ballantine, 2023)

Fantasy: The Night Ends With Fire

by K. X. Song 

The Night Ends With Fire by K. X. Song 

“I’ve been on a fantasy kick — and this one, inspired by the legend of Mulan, enthralled me from the start,” says Melissa D’Agnese, FIRST Senior Editor. In this tale, three kingdoms are at war, but Meilin’s father refuses to enter the imperial draft, so Meilin steps up and takes his place. Still, life as a soldier isn’t all she thought it would be, and her training partner, Prince Sky Liu, is making matters even more complicated. “Vivid details, epic characters and shocking betrayals,” raves Melissa. “This tale had it all!” (Ace, 2024)

Literary Fiction: Where Butterflies Wander 

by Suzanne Redfearn

Where Butterflies Wander by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union Publishing

“This novel, by the bestselling author of In an Instant, was on my list of books to read for a while,” says Kathy Fitzpatrick, FIRST Features Director. After losing a child, Marie Egide tries to sell the estate she inherited to escape her pain. But when she finds a veteran living in a cabin on the property, they soon engage in a battle that divides the town. “This is a poignant story of healing,” says Kathy. “And it left me hopeful for those who are overwhelmed by life’s unexpected circumstances.” (Lake Union, 2024)

Mystery: The Fury

by Alex Michaelides

The Fury by Alex Michaelides
Celadon Books

“Traveling is my favorite hobby, but when I can’t get away, I like to get lost in novels instead,” says Rachel Cosma, FIRST Health Writer. “And this mystery set in picturesque Greece was an escape!” When former A-list actress Lana Farrar invites a few friends to a getaway on a private island, someone ends up dead as a storm rolls in and leaves them stranded. Everyone is a suspect, and readers get glimpses of what happened as key scenes are revisited from different perspectives. Says Rachel, “The twists will keep you guessing to the very end!” (Celadon, 2024)

For more FIRST Book Club picks:

FIRST Book Club Recommends Christina Lauren, Leigh Bardugo and More Must-Reads for June 28 to July 4

FIRST Book Club Recommends Lauren Roberts, Susanna Hoffs and More Thrilling Titles for June 21 to 27

FIRST Book Club Recommends the New Kerri Maniscalco and Lucy Foley Books and More for June 14 to June 20

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