Hello July! I can’t believe how fast the summer seems to fly by… from graduating college (AH!) to moving apartments, I haven’t had a minute to sit back and catch up on my summer reading. With the long Fourth of July weekend ahead of me, I decided it was finally time to read as much as I could. On my first day off, I headed straight to my favorite bookstore and wandered up and down the endless aisles of books until I found 10 stories that stood out more than the rest. So without further ado…here is my JULY READING LIST:
The Little French Bistro by Nina George
I wanted to start off my summer reading by daydreaming of traveling to Paris of course…so naturally my first find was Nina George’s second novel The Little French Bistro (I also read her debut novel The Little Paris Bookshop in my Fall Reading List). After 41 years stuck in an unhappy marriage, Marianne realizes she needs out and decides to take action one night in Paris. Marianne leaves her life behind and travels to the coast of Brittany, nicknamed “the end of the world.” Filled with a cast of colorful locals and relatable situations, The Little French Bistro is a charming tale of second chances, self-discovery, and learning that it is never too late to live the life you’ve always wanted.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Fans of psychological thrillers…get excited, because this one will give you all the chills. Helena finally has the life she has always dreamed of: an adoring husband, two daughters, and a successful business. Until one day, she catches the emergency news announcement and realizes she can never completely run away from her dark past. Helena has a secret: her mother was abducted as a teenager and two years later had Helena in a hidden cabin in the marshlands of Michigan. Helena loved her mother and the abundant nature around her. She even loved her father despite the odd temper and brutal behavior… Until one day when Helena finally learned the truth about how evil her father could truly be. Now twenty years later, Helena’s dangerous father has escaped from prison and disappeared into the marshland he knows better than anyone else. The police are on the hunt but Helena knows the only person who has the skills to find her father is also the only person who was trained to survive in the marshlands: herself.
Fake Plastic Love by Kimberly Tait
I call this the book I wish I wrote. Believe it or not, I had a similar idea for a storyline and even started writing it. I have always been fascinated by the idea of hopeless romantics versus realists within our modern generation. So when I stumbled across this book on one of the shelves, I knew I had to read it and wow, I’m glad I did. Placing a hopeless romantic and a realist together in the age of digital technology, modern dating, and “fake, plastic love,” Tait tells a story that is relatable, insightful, and completely unique. Adding a Gatsby-like quality to her prose, Tait interweaves the desire for a dreamier era of the 20s with the stark reality of the modern age. When M. meets Belle at Dartmouth, they become the unlikeliest best friends. Belle is a dreamer and a hopeless romantic while M. is a realist who prefers a simple lifestyle. After graduation, the best friends move to New York City where M. works as a banker at a prestigious investment firm while Belle starts one of the first lifestyle blogs that soon goes viral. Their future is spread out before them in twinkling lights, posh speakeasies, and glamorous cocktail parties. As they are pulled deeper into their new lives post-college, they meet Jeremy – the stylish Gatsby-esque character of their present lives. In this fake plastic world, their dreams and realities blur together and they begin to wonder… what do success, love, and happiness even look like in this new, modern world? Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tait writes a captivating debut on the truths of millennial Manhattan and the ongoing battle between nostalgia and modernity.
Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren
I couldn’t go all summer long without reading an addicting romance read now could I. And who better to read than Christina Lauren – two of my favorite contemporary romance authors (yes, Christina Lauren is two people…Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, surprise!). They know how to write the perfect rom-com with relatable characters, steamy storylines, and witty one-liners that will make you daydream about your own real-life love story (or for me… lack of…) Their newest novel, Dating You/Hating You gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the glamorous industry of fame, fortune, and sabotage. Evie and Carter are two successful celebrity talent agents that find themselves battling for the same position after their two agencies merge together. As Evie and Carter fight for success in Hollywood, they realize that their romantic chemistry is stronger than their desire to become a high-powered agent. Can Evie and Cater get their Hollywood movie ending or will they always be stuck in a love/hate relationship? This witty, heartfelt narrative on modern love is a summer must-read.
He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly
Already a bestseller in the UK, He Said/She Said is a gripping narrative that will keep you guessing until the very end. Set in the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see the total eclipse of the sun. Young and in love, they believe this trip will be the first of many eclipse watchings, but in the quiet moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and woman close by. She knows she saw something terrible, but the man denies it. Soon it becomes her word against his. The victim seems grateful of Laura for taking her side, but months later when the victim turns up on Laura’s doorstep, her gratitude takes a twisted, dark turn. Laura begins to wonder if she trusted the wrong person…
How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
I’m sure by now you have heard of Catron’s New York Times essay “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” or aka… the 36 questions that went viral. Extending her questionnaire into a collection of essays, Catron blends her cultural research and personal anecdotes to explore the idea of how we cultivate romance in the modern age. Her essays focus on the myths we create in our heads and how they limit our ability to obtain real-life intimacy. For all you hopeless romantics out there needing insight into the realistic truths on love, you definitely need to read this one.
Buns by Alice Clayton
If you have seen my other reading lists, you know I’m a huge fan of Alice Clayton. Her book titles alone are enough to make you curious about the steamy storylines and witty, hilarious banter of the characters (let’s not forget her first novel titled Wallbanger). Her third novel in the fun Hudson Valley Series, Buns, is another sizzling, sassy romance by Clayton. Clara Morgan is living her dream, rebranding hotels that need a new life and running marathons all across town. However, her remodeling career and cardio endurance have kept her from staying in one place for too long. Now onto her next location, Clara is hired to rebrand the Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls. She becomes fascinated not only by the generations-old family resort, but also the secret recipe to the yummy Hot Cross Buns… Meet Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns and soon-to-be owner of the Bryant Mountain House. Archie is determined to maintain his family’s legacy and old-fashioned charm in his resort and isn’t happy when he finds out a new hotel branding expert is here to attract trendy, younger crowds. When Archie realizes that Clara’s ideas are bringing him in groups of new customers, he can’t deny she may be saving his resort from closing… it’s about to become a stick situation. (read my interview with Clayton about her new Abroad series and novel Roman Crazy!)
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Called the “epic love story of 2017” by Redbook Magazine, The Light We Lost is a devastating, emotional journey of love. The novel starts off with Lucy, who is about to make a life-altering decision. Before she chooses her life path, she must start her story – their story – from the beginning… Lucy and Gabe meet as students at Columbia University and their lives change forever. When they run into each other again a year later, it seems more like fate than a coincidence. They believe that together, they can find meaning in their lives. However, after graduating Gabe becomes a photojournalist in the Middle East while Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a 13 year long journey through their dreams, desires, heartbreaks, betrayals, and ultimately true love. Focusing on the battle between choice and fate, Lucy and Gabe’s love story will stay with you longer than the last page.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
A story mixed with mystery and literature…what more could I ask for? Lydia Smith is the clerk of Bright Ideas bookstore, where she lives a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books. She calls her lonely and dedicated regulars the BookFrogs, for they spend every day hopping among the aisles of books. Lydia’s days in the bookstore remain consistently normal, until one day one of her BookFrogs Joey Molina commits suicide in the bookstore’s upper room. Lydia is left clueless and in shock when she discovers that Joey’s books hide clues that are both disturbing and unexplainable. They not only reveal Joey as a man on the verge of emotional ruin, but also a man with a hidden secret. What does Joey know and how does it have anything to do with Lydia? As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she also discovers the truth of her own violent childhood.
Perennials by Mandy Berman
Maybe it’s because I just graduated… but here I go adding another book to the list focused on the after-effects of leaving college and starting the phase of adulting (the first was Fake Plastic Love). Perennials follows Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin as they leave childhood behind and enter adulthood. The two best friends always treasured their years at summer camp together and now, reunited after their first year of college, Rachel and Fiona are camp counselors. However, unlike the innocent days of their childhood at Camp Marigold, Rachel and Fiona’s friendship seems more complicated. Rachel is rebellious and the street-smart city kid while Fiona is the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family. As Fiona envies Rachel’s popularity with the other counselors and campers, secrets begin to grow and tension begins to build. When the summer comes to a close, a tragic event happens at Camp Marigold, forcing Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts and the adults they are becoming. Perennials will leave you with a lasting impression on nostalgia, adulting, and female friendship.
Brb… attempting to read 10 books in one month…