You guys know how much I love to put together lists of books that I have read and enjoyed and books that I can’t wait to pick up. I did a book recommendation post for 2017 several months ago and I thought I would put together another list with some fun beach reads for summer 2017.
Summer is basically like Christmas for readers because there are so many new releases in May, June and July. It really is a great time to sit outside with a thick book and a lemonade and enjoy these wonderful stories.
So here is my summer reading list – I tried to include some lighter, traditional beach reads and some more involved books that are fantastic for long flights. If you have any delightful books you have loved recently, please share in the comments below! My library queue is never long enough.
And if you have been following any of my book recs you know that I have a secret obsession with WWII and I seem to find myself reading everything and anything on that era. I am aware of my proclivities and try to steer away from my comfort zone but alas a few (cough… four) seem to have snuck onto the list.
Here goes- I have included the brief publisher description and you can simply click the bold faced title to get more information and reviews on each title.
Many of us read Girl on the Train and this is the next publication from 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 fifteen-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.”
I just finished this one and I did enjoy it. It is a complicated story with several characters trying to get to the bottom of what happened to these two women (and the history of the river.) I listened to the audiobook and this story has a pretty tangled web to unravel so I found myself rewinding a few times. It is a story that pulled me in so I do recommend picking it up. It is a dark story that dusts off the skeletons in various character’s closets but I would not say it is scary or gory by any means. If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you will enjoy this one.
This is the follow up to The Kitchen House which was a huge best seller and a book I loved. This book stands on its own and you can certainly pick it up without reading the Kitchen House but both books are totally worth adding to your to read list.
“The year is 1830 and Jamie Pyke, a celebrated silversmith and notorious ladies’ man, is keeping a deadly secret. Passing as a wealthy white aristocrat in Philadelphian society, Jamie is now living a life he could never have imagined years before when he was a runaway slave, son of a southern black slave and her master. But Jamie’s carefully constructed world is threatened when he discovers that his married socialite lover, Caroline, is pregnant and his beloved servant Pan, to whose father Jamie owes his own freedom, has been captured and sold into slavery in the South.
Fleeing the consequences of his deceptions, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation to save Pan from the life he himself barely escaped as a boy. With the help of a fearless slave, Sukey, who has taken the terrified young boy under her wing, Jamie navigates their way, racing against time and their ruthless pursuers through the Virginia backwoods, the Underground Railroad, and the treacherous Great Dismal Swamp.”
Kathleen Grissom pulls you in to these characters and both books are really amazing for book clubs. After reading Glory Over Everything, I want to go back and reread The Kitchen House just because I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.
“February, 1946. World War II is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.”
Let me just say that I didn’t adore this book as I found the present day storyline of Brette a little incredible and distracting. Brette is able to communicate with ghosts and I have never personally been into ghost stories. I was able to move past my annoyance with Brette because I found Annaliese and Simone and their stories so compelling. I do recommend this one and I did enjoy it, I just wanted more of Annaliese and Simone and a bit less of Brette. Be sure to come back and let me know what you think!
There are a handful of authors that I eagerly await every single book release. Sophie Kinsella is one of them and I have been binging on her books for years and years now (and fortunately she is a prolific writer.)
“Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.”
I read this book in days as Sophie Kinsella writes such engrossing characters. This is for sure a fun and light read and couldn’t be more perfect for the beach. I actually listened to this one on Audible and loved hearing the charming English and Irish accents.
Once you finish this one, you might go back through her prior novels including the entire Shopaholic series and several other books written under the pen name of Madeline Wickham.
Ok pretty much all the authors I never miss are on this list with summer releases for books and you can bet I will be first in line on release day. Jane Green is one of those authors that you can always count on for a great light read that you won’t want to put down.
“Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.
As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.
But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all…”
Sadly this won’t be released June 6th so a tiny wait but might as well grab the pre-order now and it will be in your hot little hands before you know it.
I haven’t picked this one up but hope to pick it up soon.
“Austria, 1938. Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher’s fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.
Los Angeles, 1989. Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad’s collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.”
You don’t often get the Austrian side of the war so that caught my attention right away and this book just sounds fantastic. Sadly this one isn’t available at the moment- it will be released June 13th. So once you finish Sunshine Girls you can dive right in to this one. Yeah!
Maeve Binchy has written a plethora of books and I haven’t found one that I didn’t like. She is an Irish author and writes about the most charming Irish and English characters and I think she is for sure beach worthy. I like to visit Maeve a few times a year and see what oldies but goodies I can dig up from her archives. Light a Penny Candle I randomly picked up at the library and really enjoyed.
“To escape the chaos of London during World War II, young Elizabeth White is sent to live a safer life in the small Irish town of Kilgarret. It is there, in the crowded, chaotic O’Connor household, that she meet Aisling—a girl who soon becomes her very best friend, sharing her pet kitten and secretly teaching her the intricacies of Catholicism.
Aisling’s boldness brings Elizabeth out of her proper shell; later, her support carries Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents’ chilly marriage. In return, Elizabeth’s friendship helps Aisling endure her own unsatisfying marriage to a raging alcoholic. Through the years, they come to believe they can overcome any conflict, conquer any hardship—as long as they have each other. Now they’re about to find out if they’re right…”
Now I do want to say this starts during WWII but I don’t really count this toward my WWII book tally as the war is just the background. Maeve Binchy writes compelling characters that pull you in and this book is about the two girls- Elizabeth and Aisling and how their lives and friendship unfolds. Once you are done with this one, you might grab a cuppa and check out the Maeve Binchy page to start visiting with Maeve every so often as I do. You can’t go wrong with any of her books.
Another follow up to a best seller, this is the second book from Fiona Davis who wrote the Dollhouse. I really enjoyed the Dollhouse and I can’t wait for the release of this book on August 1st.
“After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.
In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.
One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.”
I enjoyed this one and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was turned into a film at some point.
“Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.”
This one did take me a little bit longer to finish but I enjoyed the characters and the plot line was fascinating. I do love historical fiction and what I enjoyed most about this book is that it is a small glimpse into how an average German could have been swept up into the Nazi regime so quickly and completely.
If you enjoy this book, you really might consider picking up The Nightingale and Home Front after that. I put the Nightingale on my Must Read for 2015 list and it might have been my favorite book of that year.
Am I the only one that reads every John Grisham book? Lol I still love this books and I don’t miss a single one. These are fantastic for car trips with my husband because it is something we can both listen to and enjoy. The bummer is this one is still a few weeks away- hurry up June 6th!
“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 twenty-five 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.”
I just love Adriana Trigiani! For Adriana and the next author I might get a little gushy fangirl for a moment but I really love her stories. I have never gotten into the Big Stone Gap series but all of her other stories- Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife etc… I thoroughly enjoy. Adriana Trigiani takes you into an elegant world of an Italian family in the 1950’s in New York City. These aren’t sad stories of immigrants but rather that magical moment when Audrey Hepburn was the it girl not Kim Kardashian.
Kiss Carlo is released on June 20th and many of these stories are based upon the history of Adriana Trigiani’s own family so she really does create very rich characters that you will love.
“It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.
Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.
From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.”
The book sounds a little far fetched but trust me. Adriana Trigiani is a master at writing complicated storylines and interesting characters and I bet you breeze through this book. Perfect beach read.
(And if you do like it go back and read all her other oldies but goodies like The Shoemaker’s Wife, All the Stars in the Heavens, Lucia, Lucia, The Supreme Macaroni Company, Brava Valentine, Very Valentine, The Queen of the Big Time, Rococo… lol. A long list of good ones. Click here to take a look)
So July 11th is getting a circle on the calendar because Joshilyn Jackson might just be my favorite author and that is the release date for her latest book. I feel like I am cheating on the rest of my squad- Adriana, Jane, Kristin Hannah, Maeve, Sophie etc… when I say Joshilyn is my favorite but I just adore her stuff. She writes these crazy, complicated stories of Southern women that are strong and take you back in time to the 50’s and 60’s in the deep south.
I have read every single one of her books and I actually love to listen to these on audiobook because she tends to read them herself. Some authors that narrate are a disaster but Joshilyn has this honey coated voice that just draws you in.
“Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.
It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.
Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.”
At the risk of being obnoxious, if you pick this one up and enjoy it all her other stuff is great too! (How many times have I said that already? Gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints and a Grown Up Kind of Pretty. She also has a short prequel to this book called My Own Miraculous that is only $.99 to buy right now. I read it awhile back and I can’t wait to jump back in with these characters. Click here to take a look
So this is more of a traditional beach read- light, fun chic lit. But this one won’t waste your time- the premise sounds fantastic and the last book from these two, The Knockoff, was fantastic. I probably read it in a day.
“When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.”
I can’t wait for this fun book to come out on July 11th. Also I would like a bruffin to go with my book.
I haven’t read anything from Dorothea Benton Frank but she is constantly on best seller lists and her books sound perfect to dive into for summer.
This is not her newest book but since there are so many brand new titles on this list, I wanted to dig up a few older ones you might have a shot at picking up from the library.
“All Summer Long follows one charming New York couple – prominent interior designer Olivia Ritchie and her husband Nicholas Seymour, an English professor and true southern gentleman. They are seemingly polar opposites, yet magnetically drawn together and in love for more than fourteen years.
As they prepare to relocate to Charleston, S.C., Olivia, the ultimate New Yorker, has reservations about the promise she made to retire in the Lowcountry, where Nick wants to return home and lead a more peaceful life. They are moving north to south, fast pace versus slow pace and downsizing. Nick is ecstatic. Olivia is not. She can’t let Nick know that their finances are not what he thought. Her client list is evaporating, their monetary reserves are dwindling and maybe that house she picked out on Sullivans Island needs too much work. Thank God, for her assistant, Roni Larini, her right (and sometimes left) hand.
As they find themselves pondering the next step of their lives, Olivia and Nick travel with her billionaire clients and their friends and are swept up into the world of the ultra-rich and explore the globe with a cast of zany eccentrics over one tumultuous, hot summer. All as Olivia grapples with what lies ahead for her and Nick.”
This is the second novel from the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper which I recommended a few months ago. I honestly was not interested in the book based off the cover and the title but on a slow book day, I decided to pick it up. I really enjoyed Arthur Pepper- it was a quick one that didn’t involve a lot of concentration but I still loved the characters and the storyline.
“In the quiet village of Noon Sun, Benedict Stone has settled into a complacent and predictable routine. Business at his jewelry shop has dried up; his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump start…
And then a surprise arrives at his door.
Gemma is Benedict’s audacious teenage niece—the daughter of his estranged brother, Charlie. The two Stone brothers had a falling out and haven’t spoken in almost two decades, since Charlie left for America. Reckless and stubborn, Gemma invites herself into Benedict’s world and turns his orderly life upside down. But she might just be exactly what he needs to get his life back on track…”
I love good historical fiction and this one sounds promising! I have read two of her prior books and I enjoyed one and the other I sort of slogged through and felt it was a little too long and dry. I am hopeful for this one as I haven’t read too many great books about the French Revolution (although I did like America’s First Daughter about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter recently).
“Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a youngaristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle.
As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, André, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely—for themselves and, indeed, for the nation.
Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Robespierre, Louis XVI, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon’s epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their belief in a cause greater than themselves.”
Whew!! That is 15 books to consider for your summer reading list! If you are on Good Reads, let’s be friends! I just joined (like literally just joined) and am hoping to add more books as I get through them and more that I want to read this year.
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