Best Books of the Month: Summer Beach Reads Edition

Beach_readsSummer is here!

And you know what that means! Sunshine, cocktails with pretty umbrellas, and BOOKS. And there are a lot of great reads out there right now.  So we decided to combine all of our faves into a #summer #beachreads list for June! Our novel, The Status of All Things, is in amazing company this month and we’ll be honored if it ends up in your beach bag next to any (or all!) of these fabulous reads!

To celebrate this month’s books, we’re giving away one copy of each! To be entered to #win, leave a comment here or on our Facebook post. Contest closes on June 27th after 6pm PST. 

The Best Kept Secret by Wendi Nunnery

The Best Kept Secret_Wendi Nunnery_CoverThe scoop: In high school, everyone has their secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma Fraser. Emma’s sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity in the back seat of a car, leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and, suddenly, Emma found herself feeling like a stranger. Now, struggling to find her new place, Emma wonders if things could get any worse. When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emma to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to celebrate, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that friends are friends no matter what…and some secrets aren’t worth keeping.

Our thoughts: We tore through this delicious novel!

 

Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Spielman

SWEET+FORGIVENESS+BY+LORI+NELSON+SPIELMANThe scoop: The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans’ favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn’t biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.

Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever.

Our thoughts: We love this clever plot!

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny_Little_ThingThe scoop: In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

Our thoughts: Layered with rich characters, this novel kept us guessing until the very end!

Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

Black_Dog_SummerThe scoop: Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Our thoughts: A suspenseful page turner that kept us up past our bedtimes!

The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

Appetites_of_GirlsThe scoop: Four young women are thrown together as roommates freshman year in college: Ruth, Francesca, Opal, and Setsu. Each is striving to overcome struggles from childhood and find her true self.

Tormented by self-doubt, Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control her. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue family; to provoke them, and to protect herself, she consumes everything in sight. Opal longs to be included in her glamorous, adventure-seeking mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous older brother by allowing him to take away the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future.

As their stories and appetites collide, these women make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood—but each must first find strength and her way in the world.

Our thoughts: Loved this one just as much in paperback as we did the first time around. The perfect poolside read!

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In_the_Unlikely_EventThe scoop: In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.

Our thoughts: There are no words to properly describe Judy Blume’s talent. We’ll just say this novel was definitely worth the wait!

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

indexThe Scoop: Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….

Our thoughts: Laura Dave is an extraordinary writer who has crafted a rich, well-researched story full of twists and turns with a very satisfying ending!

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert

THOSE SECRETS WE KEEPThe scoop: On the surface, Sloane has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing….

Hillary has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why….

As the wild-child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done: escape.

When these three women unite for a three-week-long summer vacation in beautiful Lake George, New York, even with the idyllic location as their backdrop, the tensions begin to mount. And they quickly discover that no secret can be kept forever….

Our thoughts: A page-turner about friendship and family that should be in everyone’s beach bag.

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

indexThe scoop: This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world . . . and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She’s tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She’s over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it’s time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear—she’s done that too!)

And that’s when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn’t mean you can also unplug from life.

Our thoughts: We enjoyed unplugging for this witty read!

Whisper Beach by Shelly Noble

indexThe scoop: Fifteen years ago, seventeen-year-old Vanessa Moran fell in love and lost her virginity but not to the same boy. Pregnant, desperate, and humiliated, she fled friends and family and Whisper Beach, New Jersey, never breathing a word about her secret to anyone. She hasn’t been back since. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she returns to the funeral of her best friend’s husband. She intends on just paying her respects and leaving—though she can’t deny she also wants the town to see how far she’s come as a successful business woman. But her plans to make this a short visit fall by the wayside when her girlfriends have other ideas.

Dorie, the owner of the pier’s Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, needs help. Dorie’s roving husband spends every penny they make and now their restaurant is failing.

Joe, the boy Van left behind without an explanation, has never stopped loving her. While he’s wary of getting hurt again, he also can’t help wondering what would happen if they took up where they left off.

As the summer progresses and the restaurant takes on a new look, trouble comes from unexpected sources. For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.

Our thoughts: Noble is the master of the beach read!

 All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

indexThe scoop: The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.

Our thoughts: This poignant novel about friendship really resonated with us!

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

indexThe scoop: Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. And Greer ended up with the blame.

Now Greer has been given one more chance–a shot at finding the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. There’s one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino–which will be perfect for the film’s climax–when the bad guys blow it up in an all-out assault on the townspeople.

Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. She takes a room at the only motel in town, and starts working her charm. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who’s seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company. The bay has only recently been re-born, a fishing industry has sprung up, and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.

Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it’s too late and disaster strikes?

Our thoughts: An unputtdownable summer read!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The Royal We The scoop: American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

Our thoughts: So fabulously addictive we didn’t want it to end–ever!

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

The KnockoffThe scoop: When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

Our thoughts: We laughed through this sassy and smart novel! And we are now #teamimogen all the way!

 300 Sandwiches: A Multilayered Love Story…with Recipes by Stephanie Smith

300 SandwichesThe scoop: “Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.”
 
When New York Post writer Stephanie Smith made a turkey and Swiss on white bread for her boyfriend, Eric (aka E), he took one bite and uttered those now-famous words. While her beau’s declaration initially seemed unusual, even antiquated, Stephanie accepted the challenge and got to work. Little did she know she was about to cook up the sexiest and most controversial love story of her generation.

300 Sandwiches is the story of Stephanie and E’s epic journey of bread and betrothal, with a whole loaf of recipes to boot. For Stephanie, a novice in the kitchen, making a sandwich—or even 300—for E wasn’t just about getting a ring; it was her way of saying “I love you” while gaining confidence as a chef. It was about how many breakfast sandwiches they could eat together on future Sunday mornings, how many s’mores might follow family snowboarding trips, how many silly fights would end in makeup sandwiches. Suddenly, she saw a lifetime of happiness between those two slices of bread.

Not everyone agreed. The media dubbed E “the Internet’s Worst Boyfriend”; bloggers attacked the loving couple for setting back the cause of women’s rights; opinions about their romance echoed from as far away as Japan. Soon, Stephanie found her cooking and her relationship under the harsh glare of the spotlight.

From culinary twists on peanut butter and jelly to “Not Your Mother’s Roast Beef” spicy French Dip to Chicken and Waffle BLTs, Stephanie shares the creations—including wraps, burritos, paninis, and burgers—that ultimately sated E’s palate and won his heart. Part recipe book, part girl-meets-boy memoir, 300 Sandwiches teaches us that true love always wins out—one delicious bite at a time.

Our thoughts: A delicious memoir!

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand

The RumorThe scoop: Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something’s changed, and if there’s anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it’s a good rumor.

And rumor has it…

…that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer’s block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation–and a desperately bad decision;

…that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely that necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

…that Grace’s husband, successful island real estate developer “Fast Eddie” Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

…that the storybook romance between Madeline’s son, Brick, and Grace’s daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they’ve worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight–but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

Our thoughts:  This novel is so much fun!

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

China Rich GirlfriendThe scoop: On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

Our thoughts: Kevin Kwan is a master at weaving vivid stories while also making us laugh! We didn’t think it would be possible, but we loved this even more more than the first!

Every Secret Thing  by Laura Lippman

Every_Secret_ThingThe scoop: Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party find a stroller with an infant inside on an unfamiliar Baltimore street. What happens next is shocking and terrible, causing the irreparable devastation of three separate families.

Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from “kid prison” to begin their lives over again. But the unanswered questions about the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police, and all the adults in Alice’s and Ronnie’s lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances.

Our thoughts: Loved the book when it first came out and are now very excited to see the movie!

 

 

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

Summer_SecretsThe scoop: When a shocking family secret is revealed, twenty-something journalist Cat Coombs finds herself falling into a dark spiral. Wild, glamorous nights out in London and raging hangovers the next day become her norm, leading to a terrible mistake one night while visiting family in America, on the island of Nantucket. It’s a mistake for which she can’t forgive herself. When she returns home, she confronts the unavoidable reality of her life and knows it’s time to grow up. But she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to earn the forgiveness of the people she hurt.

As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with a new-found sobriety and determined to finally make amends. Traveling back to her past, to the family she left behind on Nantucket all those years ago, she may be able to earn their forgiveness, but in doing so she may risk losing the very people she loves the most.

Told with Jane Green’s keen eye for detailing the emotional landscape of the heart, Summer Secrets is at once a compelling drama and a beautifully rendered portrait of relationships, betrayals, and forgiveness; about accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and being strong enough to weather the storms.

Our thoughts: A sharp, smart and satisfying summer read!

The Lonely Hearts Club by Brenda Janowitz

The_Lonely_Hearts_ClubThe scoop: Jo Waldman lives to her own soundtrack — working by day while pursuing her music career in NYC’s downtown clubs at night. So when Jo is fired and her boyfriend breaks up with her, Jo doesn’t get upset — she just wants to rage. Dusting off her computer, Jo writes a blog entry, pouring her heart out about the shortcomings of love. But as Jo hits “publish,” she accidentally sends a mass e-mail to the entire mailing list for her former almost-famous band The Lonely Hearts Club, announcing to everybody that she’s been brutally dumped. To her surprise, supportive e-mails start flowing in — many of them from complete strangers. Apparently, her anti-love rant has struck a chord. The Lonely Hearts Club Blog develops a huge following and Jo becomes an icon for all things anti-love. Now the poster girl for lonely hearts and writing music again, Jo has one problem: the web programmer developing her site is simply dreamy. Jo’s never been very good at depriving herself of anything, but if this budding romance is exposed, she’ll be revealed as an anti-love fraud and risk losing the fans who have found a voice in her music.

 Our thoughts: The perfect blend of music, relationships and love!

XOXO, Liz & Lisa

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This month’s book club pick is IT’S YOU by the fabulous Jane Porter. It’s the perfect book to throw in your beach bag this summer! (It’s in ours!) And we have a copy for giveaway! Just leave a comment here or on the post on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win. The… Read more »

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