Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

July 13, 2019

7 Books to Read This Summer

by Susan Roberts

Do you need a good book to throw into your beach bag when you go to relax at the pool or the lake?  I have reviews of seven new books today that are perfect to read while you enjoy the hot summer sun.  Do you have others to add to the list?
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Summer at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild 

Summer at the Lakeside Resort
May 2019; Longleaf Pine Press; 978-1732824935
ebook, print (214 pages); southern fiction
"Wearing a flannel nightgown, her longest down jacket, and the old red cowboy boots she found at the annual Heron Lake Fire Department rummage sale, Jenny Beckett held a cup of coffee and stepped outside into the frosty March morning.  Clutching the doorframe with one hand, she braced herself, trying to avoid being swept along in a running-of-the-bulls type stampede that happened first thing every morning as her two dogs and her tiny horse barged out the front door for their morning constitutional.  Pulling her coat tighter, she broke into a smile as she watched them race around." (p1)

Note:  this is book 2 in the Lakeside Resort series and you need to read this series in order to avoid confusion.

Jenny is an over 40s woman who is working hard to make a success of the campground that her    Dad left her half completed when he died.  Her dad always had big plans but rarely saw them to completion and the campground was just another example.  Jenny and two friends worked to finish the cabins in time for Christmas in the first book in the series Christmas at the Lakeside Resort.  Now it's March, the cabins are completed and she needs to figure out how to get those cabins filled for the summer months so that she can make enough money to live on.  With the help of her best friend, Charlotte and her contractor, Luke, she works to come up with ways to make the resort successful.  They end up coming up with ideas for a writers retreat, an exercise camp and the cabins get booked.  Luke is more than her contractor, he is also her boyfriend and even though there has been discussion about getting married, nothing seems to be happening.  As Jenny struggles with keeping the cabins cleaned and making the visitors happy, she is having the time of her life.

It's wonderful to read a book with a main character over 40 who is still working to figure out their life and be successful.  Jenny is a fantastic character - sometimes you feel sorry for her and sometimes she makes you laugh out loud.  I especially enjoyed how she used Google to learn everything from how to catch fish to how to be interviewed for the newspaper to how to plant a garden.  As she becomes more involved in the day to day running of the resort, she begins to get stressed until she learns that it's ok to accept help from other people.

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach
May 2019; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250126108
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); women's fiction
"A job in his law firm had been the very last thing Drue had wanted from her long-estranged father. But what choice did she have? That five-second midair kiteboard collision three months earlier, and her mother’s subsequent death, only reinforced the fact that she no longer had any reason to stay in Fort Lauderdale."  (p10)

A new Mary Kay Andrews book always reminds me that summer is getting closer.  She writes wonderful Southern fiction with well written and sometimes quirky characters and a plot that makes you want to pack up that beach bag and head to the ocean -- or at least get out those summer sandals.   

Sunset Beach isn't as light and fluffy as some of the previous books by this author because she's added a couple of murder mysteries to this one. Despite that difference, the characters are still fun and will make you laugh at times and there is definitely a feeling of the South throughout the book.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Despite her negative feelings towards him, she agrees to take a job at his law firm (Slip and Fall - Give Brice a call ads are plastered all over town.)

The job is pretty dead end and to top it off, the office manager is a frenemy from high school AND her father's new wife. The only reason she agrees to stay is that she has inherited her grandparents' beach cottage. It's in bad shape but she looks forward to bringing it back to the way it was when she was a child. When Drue gets the hint that there may be a murder that her father's firm handled wrong, she works to get to the bottom of it. Will her search for clues in the murder ruin what little relationship she has with her father or will it ultimately strengthen their family ties? 

I thought this book had it all -- great characters, a plot that will keep you turning pages and a story that couldn't happen anywhere but in the South. It's a book with sun and family and even has a great new boyfriend for Drue. 

Buy Sunset Beach at Amazon

Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand 

Summer of 69
June 2019; Little, Brown and Company
978-0316420013; audio, ebook, print (432 pages)
women's fiction
"The experiences of this summer will become as much a part of her as her bones and muscle,  her brains and heart.  Ten or twenty years from now, when she looks back on the summer of 1969, she will think 'This was the summer I became real.  My own real person.'"  (loc 4676)

1969 was an important year in the United States. The Vietnam War was still strong and there were protests against the war, people were concerned with civil rights and rights for women. On the other side of the coin, there was the Moon Landing and Woodstock. I have trouble regarding 1969 as historical fiction because I have great memories of that year and it doesn't seem so long ago to me.

The Levin family had been spending their summers in Nantucket at their grandmother's beach house for many years. In the summer of 1969, Tiger (the only son) was in Vietnam as an infantry soldier, Blair was pregnant with twins and unable to make the trip from Boston to Nantucket, Kirby was in college and active in civil rights protests. She decided to spend the summer at another island working at a hotel away from her family. Jessie, the youngest, feels that she has been abandoned by her siblings for the summer. She's only 13 and just learning who she is and needs her family there to help her find her way. The summer is full of news - The Moon Landing and Chappaquiddick and the preparations for Woodstock. While all of this is taking place off the island, Jessie is struggling to understand her family and worrying about her brother at war.

I enjoyed the way that real events became part of the story and part of the lives of the Levin family. Against the background of chaos in America, this family came alive as they dealt with the same problems as many Americans at the time.

This was a great look at life in 1969 - the music, the books, the news, and the chaos.

Buy Summer of '69 at Amazon

The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold 

The Ingredients of Us
July 2019; Lake Union Publishing
978-1542042666; audio, ebook, print (298 pages)
women's fiction
"Imagine your husband cheated on you;  what do you bake?  Pies are too cheerful, cookies too festive, chocolate mousse too sensual - you probably decide on jam.  Something to pulverize.  Blackberry jam, to be specific, made straight from the gnarled bush that has overtaken your potting shed in the back - the bush, heavy with berries, that your lying husband promised to prune but never did." (loc 46)

This light, well-written debut novel is a perfect summer read. Not only do you get a great plot with interesting characters but there are also lots of fantastic recipes, too. The recipes are for everything from blackberry jam to lemon tarts and espresso seduction brownies. Even if you aren't a baker, these recipes will make you wish that you were!

Elle owns her own bakery and has been baking for her entire life. She bakes when she's depressed and she bakes when she's happy - baking is her personal therapy. The book begins with Elle finding out that her husband has been cheating on her. She knew that they weren't as close as they had been but had no idea that he had a girlfriend. As she works through her emotions, she continues to put long hours in at her bakery aware that she won't be able to expand her business as she'd hoped to. Her recipes tie in with what is going on in her life. For example in a chapter that is about her best friend, she bakes "Ginger Peach Pie with a Friend". Will Elle be able to move on with her life without her husband - the only person that she loved more than she loved baking?

This book is told in a unique time frame. It jumps back and forth from present day to past days but not in a linear way. Chapter 1 is "six days after Elle found out' and Chapter 2 is "Eight days before Elle found out". It's an interesting way of writing the story and isn't difficult for the reader to follow all the time changes.

This is a light read full of interesting characters along with mouth-watering recipes. Have a snack close at hand when you read it - you're going to need it.

Buy The Ingredients of Us at Amazon

I'll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I'll Never Tell
June 2019;  Lake Union Publishing
978-1542040358; audio, ebook, print (368 pages)
domestic thriller
"Already this day was wearing her down.  The house, her parents' empty house, was tugging at her, reaching out and making her into the person she used to be.  Her summer self.  That girl wasn't who she wanted to be anymore but sometimes you don't get to choose who you are." (loc 283)

Catherine McKenzie has done it again -- she has provided her reader's with a roller coaster ride of a story that will keep the pages turning until the surprise ending. She is one of those rare authors that consistently tells a great story that won't disappoint her readers.

The MacAllister family is dysfunctional at best - the parents owned a summer camp and all the children have worked there over the years. The children - Ryan, the oldest and only son, and his sisters, Margo, Mary, Kate, and Liddie are all grown and have their own lives. They haven't been very close to the others throughout the years. After the parents are killed in an accident,  they are all brought together to the family camp for the reading of the will. Several of them want to sell the land, take the money and run, while others aren't sure what they want. When the will is read, it isn't just straightforward. Due to the mystery surrounding Amanda, one of the camp counselors from 20 years earlier,  the will is based on finding out what really happened to her. The family realizes that they need to find out who was responsible and start investigating the 20-year-old mystery. As the story unwinds, it's apparent that all of them know a little bit of the puzzle about Amanda but only one of them knows what really happened. Will they be able to work together to solve the mystery or will their suspicions of each other finally tear the family apart? The story takes lots of twists and turns before the surprise ending.

For me, this was a perfect suspense story. While reading the book, I changed my mind over and over about who the guilty sibling was. Just when I was sure it was a certain one, new information would come to light to show me how wrong I'd been. It kept me turning the pages to find out who was responsible for what happened at the camp 20 years earlier.

My one problem with this book is that I didn't like all of the main characters. I knew that they had secrets but I didn't like the way that some of them interacted with the rest of the family. But even the characters that I disliked were very interesting and the secrets that they all had made this an exciting book to read.

Buy I'll Never Tell at Amazon

Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

Girls Like Us
July 2019; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 978-0525535805
audio, ebook. print (288 pages); thriller 
Girls Like Us is a mystery that will keep you turning the pages.  There are lots of clues but who are they really pointing at?  My opinion changed many times during the book and the ending was just perfect.

Nell is an FBI agent who has gone home to Long Island when her father dies. Her dad, Martin was a well-liked but tough police detective. Nell and her dad didn't have much of a relationship after her mother died and her plan was to sell the house and get back to her job. Martin's partner asks Nell to help with a current case and as Nell gets pulled into the murder and all of the people involved, she begins to question how well she really knew her dad. Was he really a good guy or were his friends on the force covering up for him? As Nell begins to uncover more information, she realizes that the police are not investigating it correctly which makes her question everyone involved. As she gets closer to the truth, her life is in danger. Will she be able to solve the crime before it's too late?

This was a wonderful roller coaster ride. Nell was a likable character despite being kind of rough around the edges. This is a mystery novel at its best.

Buy Girls Like Us at Amazon

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Dear Wife
June 2019; Park Row; 978-0778309147
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); domestic thriller
"Uncertainty leaves us open to doubt, yes, but it also opens us up to splendor and joy and wonderful surprise. To the beauty of hope. Nothing is certain, nothing is known, but it is in those moments of our greatest uncertainty that miracles happen." 

WOW! What a fantastic book, full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing until the end - an ending that I never saw coming. Once again this author has brought her readers a roller-coaster ride of a plot to keep the reader intrigued until the very end!

There are two main female characters in this novel - even though we never meet one of them, she is still an important character. Beth Murphy has worked for years to find a way to escape from her controlling and abusive husband. Her new life includes a new look, a new name, and a new city. She knows that one small mistake will make it possible for her violent husband to find her. On the same day that Beth disappears, someone named Sabine goes missing. The police find her car but no clues about where she is and since the first suspect is always the husband, Jeffrey is being questioned by the local police and the problems in their marriage are brought to the light. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? You ask yourself this question over and over as you read the book. The only thing you are certain of is that someone is lying.

I really can't say much about the plot because I don't want to take the chance of giving something away. What I can tell you is that this is a fast-paced plot with lots of twists and turns and characters that you really enjoy reading about. It's suspense fiction at its best.

Buy Dear Wife at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


Post a Comment