Best Summer Reads (part 1)

Summertime . . . and the readin’s easy. . .

I wish I could read a book a day. There must be a dozen books waiting on my Kindle “To Read” queue. I just sent three books I’m dying to read back to the library. (Gasp! But they were two-weekers, and the was no way I’d get through them without racking up some major late fees.) SO many of my favorite authors shower the bookshelves with new summer releases. I just can’t keep up. And by trying to read so many book in so little time, I certainly have no to write the reviews they deserve. I’m sorry! 

I thought I’d round up some of my recommended summer reads. Some are fresh releases, some I finally got my hands on, and all are fabulous.

Read on, my friends. . .

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

I absolutely adored this book. But as a women’s fiction lover, that’s not too surprising. Instead of me raving, I’ll let one of my fellow Bookshelf Bombshells, a book lover who does not usually appreciate the WF genre, explain what makes this book stand out. {read full review here}

Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style. 

Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality. When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there? 

Heartache, humor, and a little bit of mystery come together in a story about life’s unpredictable twists and turns. Mary Kay Andrews’ Ladies’ Night will have you raising a glass and cheering these characters on.

I’m an unabashed MKA fan. Her books mix laughter with real life, often with a touch of mystery thrown in for fun. This book captures her wit and spunky style better than any of the last few she’s released ( I liked those too, this one’s just even better). And it takes place in my Sunshine State. Pack this one in your beach bag.

Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende

This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.

When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as “the vampires,” she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime–a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between warring forces: a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol.

Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. In the care of her grandmother’s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.

If I could write like anyone in the world, I’d write like Isabel Allende. A writer can dream. This story differs from most of Allende’s works, as it’s a modern tale dealing with modern problems—loss, addictions, crime, and atonement. Yet every sentence still reads like music, luring readers into her lyrical world through her words.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion-along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams

I’m late lauding this one. Drunken 50s movie stars, decrepit Italian villages, and cannibals. What else do you need? Seriously, a marvelous tale you won’t want to put down.

More of my favorite books of this summer comming soon.
What books have you fallen in love with this summer?


12 thoughts on “Best Summer Reads (part 1)

  1. bethhoffmanauthor

    What a wonderful surprise! I'm incredibly honored to be on your list of "Best Summer Reads" … Thank you a million times! I'm so glad you enjoyed Teddi's story. And a double thank you for sharing the link to Bookshelf Bombshells review, too!

  2. bronte13

    Oh my gosh. They all look AMAZING! Still must wade through the 20 plus books I have whittled down since returning from RWA13. So many books, so little time. PS. Have the MK Andrews – it's on my list!

  3. Dana

    There have been so many great new books this summer; I'm having a hard time keeping up too. I enjoyed Beautiful Ruins, but I haven't tried any of the others you mentioned – more to add to my list! Found you through Mama Kat (I did the book review prompt too). I'll check back for your Part 2!
    My recent post Summer Book Reviews

  4. vinobaby

    If I could have made it to RWA, I would have returned with bags filled from the literary signing night. (I did get a bunch of MK Andrews signed there a few years ago.) Happy reading!

  5. Anna

    I am so happy I came across this post! I just finished Gillian Fynn's "Sharp Objects" (which was great, by the way!) so I was on the search for a new book. "Looking for Me" it is! 🙂

  6. donettas

    These all look fantastic. I definitely want to add Maya's Notebook to my list of books. The latest I read were Janet Fitch's 'Paint It Black' (not about the Rolling Stones song) and a re-read of 'Drowning Ruth' by Christina Shwarz. I would recommend these both, maybe 'Paint It Black' as a autumn or late winter evening read, because it's rather long. Thank you for your reviews!!

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