Top 15 Summer Beach Reads

Top 15 Summer Reads

From a gripping and suspenseful mystery to a breezy contemporary romance – grab a great book and get reading this summer! Here are my recommendations:

The Waking Land by Callie Bates – June 27th

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

If you loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (I did!), then you’re definitely going to want to check out this magical new story by Callie Bates:

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Read more here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I love this book so, so much. You want an ideal beach read? This is the book you are looking for.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Read more here.

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren

Ever since I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne I’ve developed a warm appreciation for love/hate contemporary fiction. Although, to be fair, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is where I really got hooked. In this new novel by Christina Lauren, Carter and Evie – agents at two competing firms in Hollywood – hit things off at a Holloween Party. But when their firms merge and they end up vying for the same position, all bets are off and their romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage.

Whether these two Hollywood love-hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, readers will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

Read more here.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – July 4th

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Looking for a YA fantasy/mystery? Keep an eye out for Emily Bain Murphy’s debut novel, The Disappearances!

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind. 

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Read more here.

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland – June 29th

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Written by YouTube lifestyle personality, Louise Pentland, Wilde Like Me promises to be as lovable and candid as the woman herself.

Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make up artist’s assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back.

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel … grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with – someone who’s always on her team.

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it’s time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life.

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin’s way … Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime …

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Read more here.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor – August 1st

Sparks of Life

The sequel to one of my favorite reads of last year (which was blurbed by Outlander’s Diana Gabaldon herself), Sparks of Light continues the adventure where Into the Dim left us avid readers:

For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends, a (maybe) boyfriend, and she’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plot to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the often-treacherous glitterati of 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew discover that among high society, the Gilded Age is as deadly as it is beautiful.

Read more here.

The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

If you like to spend your idle sunbathing hours with a suspenseful thriller (or if you really liked Gone Girl), then you’re going to love The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.

P.S. This book is slated to become a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard, so read it before it hits theaters!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Young adult readers will love this charming “teen spin on You’ve Got Mail”:

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

Read more here.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A Flynn

An unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors: researchers Rachel and Liam are sent back in time from the future, they aren’t the first team of time travelers, but their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.

Another debut novel, this time by New York Times writer Kathleen Flynn, The Jane Austen Project should be at the top of any fiction-loving Austen fan’s summer reading list. Heck, even if you’ve never rubbed elbows with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet, the premise of this novel is sure to capture the attention of all readers.

Read more about the novel here, also take a peak at this great NYT article on publishing by the author here.

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

I couldn’t do a beach read round-up without including a proper historical romance. Also one of my closest friends is a massive fan of Santa Montefiore and her Deverill Chronicles trilogy and insisted that I include it. Pick up the first book, The Girl in the Castle, and then dive into the second. Read all about The Daughters of Ireland here.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

I distinctly remember swapping Sarah Dessen books with my best friend in high school. When I should have been digging into my Italian homework, I snuck into Dessen’s contemporary confections where characters lived sometimes dramatic but otherwise quite simple lives. As a city girl I found so much solace in the novelty of her stories. Now Dessen is back again, this time with Once and for All which promises the humor, romance, and happily ever after that we can’t help but love.

Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Read more here.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave – July 11th

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Author of Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave is back with Hello, Sunshine:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

This summer read hits shelves on July 11th, read more here.

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

I do not recommend reading the Goodreads reviews on this book. The reviews are generally polarizing – some love it, some hate it. I do recommend downloading a sample before you purchase the book, borrowing it from the library, or browsing through a few pages before you buy it at the bookstore. Ann Brashares, the mind behind The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has a specific writing style that people tend to really love or really not-love. I love her writing, and I hope you will too.

Read more here.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Deluxe Edition

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Intrigued yet? Released back in 2014, this fun and suspenseful read has been reprinted with loads of new extras including the author’s hand-drawn map of Beechwood Island along with the Sinclair family tree, a behind-the-scenes look at the author’s creative process, and more!

All the details on the deluxe edition can be found here.

The Three Keys series by Dana Alexander

Dana Alexander Series

Technically this is a series and shouldn’t count as a single book, but I’m a rule breaking rebel (not really) and included all three anyways. Toted as Lara Croft meets Lord of the Rings style fantasy/romance series, The Three Keys series is a tale of love that transcends time. The blurb for the books actually reminds me a bit of the Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl storyline from The Flash series.

The balance between good and evil has been shattered, opening a path for a dark lord’s demons and shadows to consume the energy found in humanity.  To New York psychiatrist Dr. Sara Forrester, these nightmares become more than figments of a troubled mind when a powerful entity known as the Soltari calls Sara to duty as their only hope to retrieve three ancient keys hidden thousands of years earlier. But to find the keys she must unlock the gateway to each of them by way of three secret medallions.  As part of Sara’s existence in this life, the alliance that governs the equilibrium between good and evil has blocked her memory from the many past lives she’s lived and the power she holds in order for her to establish a relatively ordinary life on earth.

The last great warrior hasn’t forgotten the love he’s vowed to protect across time and space.  He’s come to earth under the guise of a physician and colleague on an oath to the Soltari not to remind Sara of their past lives together when the mission is engaged.  In guarding every facet of the quest, the Alliance couldn’t risk a love that transcends time to interfere with the task to rescue billions of lives and put a halt to earth remaining as an intended place of human development.  There is no room for distraction where life-threatening decisions need to be made.  If Sara fails the mission, not only will the quest to save lives be lost but so too will the eternal bond of two souls linked for countless millenia.

I’m currently working my way through this series, so count on a more thorough review soon.

What books do you plan on reading this summer?

8 Books on Our Radar for Fall 2016

8-books-to-read-this-fall

The fall is an ideal time to catch up on your reading list and there are so many amazing books coming out these next few months, chances are I will probably post a second fall book list. For now, here are the books that you definitely will want to add to your shelves asap!

Damn Delicious – 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes by Chungah Rhee

damn-delicious-cookbook-by-chungah-rhee

As a hardcore Damn Delicious fan, I have to say I am beyond thrilled that Chungah – the brains behind one of the internet’s most popular food blogs, Damn Delicious – is releasing a book. With her signature mouth-watering photos, the Damn Delicious inaugural cookbook features 240 pages of exclusive new recipes, as well as some of Chungah’s most beloved dishes. Releases on September 6th, pre-order here.

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carre

the-pigeon-tunnel-by-john-le-carre

The Little Drummer Girl was my first ever le Carre and I’m still obsessed with it. In The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, John le Carre gives readers a glimpse into his life – from serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War to meeting with two former heads of the KGB. This first memoir from the noted author is sure to be a thrilling read. Release date: September 6th, pre-order here.

Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking

breaking-breads-by-uri-scheft

My Breads Bakery obsession has already been well documented here, just look at those pictures and tell me that this cookbook isn’t worth its weight in Nutella babka:

“Israeli baking encompasses the influences of so many regions—Morocco, Yemen, Germany, and Georgia, to name a few—and master baker Uri Scheft seamlessly marries all of these in his incredible baked goods at his Breads Bakery in New York City and Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Nutella-filled babkas, potato and shakshuka focaccia, and chocolate rugelach are pulled out of the ovens several times an hour for waiting crowds. In Breaking Breads, Scheft takes the combined influences of his Scandinavian heritage, his European pastry training, and his Israeli and New York City homes to provide sweet and savory baking recipes that cover European, Israeli, and Middle Eastern favorites. Scheft sheds new light on classics like challah, babka, and ciabatta—and provides his creative twists on them as well, showing how bakers can do the same at home—and introduces his take on Middle Eastern daily breads like kubaneh and jachnun. The instructions are detailed and the photos explanatory so that anyone can make Scheft’s Poppy Seed Hamantaschen, Cheese Bourekas, and Jerusalem Bagels, among other recipes. With several key dough recipes and hundreds of Israeli-, Middle Eastern–, Eastern European–, Scandinavian-, and Mediterranean-influenced recipes, this is truly a global baking bible.”

Breaking Breads is available for purchase on October 18th, pre-order it here.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

futhermore-by-tahereh-mafi

Bestselling author of the Shatter Me series, Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore promises to be an equally enthralling read. Futhermore tells the tale of Alexis Queensmeadow, a 12-year-old who must travel through the mythical and dangerous world of Furthermore where “down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong” all to save her father and bring him back to their home in Ferenwood. To be fair, this book released on August 30th, so not technically a fall release, but close enough. Pick it up here.

Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon

gilt-hollow-by-lorie-langdon

Lorie Langdon must be a writing machine! Her and Carey Corp’s much-anticipated conclusion to the Doon Series just released this summer and she’s already back with a pivotal YA book just in time for the fall. Gilt Hollow follows Willow Lamott whose best friend Ashton is a murderer, and who also happens to be freshly out of juvie and headed back to the small town of Gilt Hollow. Will Ashton’s desire to clear his name and become the man that Willow sees him destroy everyone he loves? If small town drama, mystery, and suspense is your thing – then you’ll love this book. Pre-order ahead of the September 27th release date here.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom-by-leigh-bardugo

The second addition to the Six of Crows series, Crooked Kingdom promises to be a dark continuation of an already dark and thrilling story. Readers of Six of Crows are dying to know what will happen to Kaz and the crew, if you haven’t read the first one – it’s been generally likened to a fantastic and dark YA version of Oceans 11, so if you’re into heists, planning, with a little mystery and a load of magic thrown in you will love this series. I definitely recommend getting them in hardcover, the book design is amazing and certainly deserves a spot on your shelf, releases on September 27th.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

the-chemist-by-stephenie-meyer

The queen of YA herself, Stephenie Meyer is releasing a new novel. The Chemist, her first thriller but second adult novel, is about an ex-agent on the run from her former employers. She must take one last case to clear her name, of course this one last case will probably involve very deadly circumstances. Sounds very Jason Bourne, and very promising – we still have a while to wait yet, it’s expected to release on November 15th. Pre-order on amazon here.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless-by-marissa-meyer

Author of the extremely popular Lunar Chronicles series (seriously, do these authors never sleep?), Marissa Meyer brings readers an exciting tale of none other than the Queen of Hearts. We know her as the terror of Wonderland. In Heartless Meyer brings us the girl before monster, Catherine, who wants to open a bakery with her best friend and fall in love on her own terms. But this is the Kingdom of Hearts and fate has other plans. Intrigued? So am I, pre-order this tale ahead of its November 8th release date here.

There are so many other amazing books to look out for – what are you reading this fall? Did you read anything amazing over the summer? Let me know!

What’s On My Kindle: The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes

As much as I love the feel of an actual physical book, I live in NYC where space is something I don’t have – so I rely on extensively on my Kindle to store all of my favorite stories. The most recent addition to my digital library is The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Frances Mayes. The author of the acclaimed Under the Tuscan Sun (from which the movie starring Diane Lane was based) has published this collection of inspired recipes.

Under-the-Tuscan-Sun-Cookbook-Review

I saw Under the Tuscan Sun when I was in middle school and I fell in love with the sweeping views of Tuscan countryside, the field of sunflowers, the dilapidated but incredibly charming villa Bramasole, the parade of characters. But there was one scene that got me everytime (besides when Frances begins renovating her house), when Frances begins to cook. Bread, pastas, artichokes, wine, and poached pears only manage to rate two minutes of the movie but it always stuck with me. The food all looked, well, welcoming – which is why I was thrilled to read The Tuscan Sun Cookbook.

Frances writing style has always appealed to me, and her narration of this cookbook is as warm and enchanting as ever. The cookbook includes more than 150 recipes, with Frances guiding us through each. The recipes do not come across as complicated, instead they capitalize on the heart of Tuscan cooking – where ingredients are “left to shine, not combined with a list as long as your arm or tortured into odd combinations”.

The photographs make me wish I owned this in hardcover – where it would be much loved, and quite possibly end up with sprinkles of flour between the pages along with other wayward ingredients.

If you’re in the market for a good cookbook with simple recipes and an engaging narrative, this one is for you. Find it here.