For me, summer and outdoor reading go hand in hand. Nothing beats relaxing by the lake or at the park with an engrossing read.
With all the amazing books hitting shelves this summer, I found it even more challenging than usual to narrow things down. But I did it! This summer’s reading list is fiction-heavy and includes a handful of highly-anticipated summer releases, and books from my always growing to-be-read list.
Here’s a look at the 20 books I’ll be diving into this season…
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
I picked up this much-talked-about debut thriller over the weekend and finished it on Wednesday. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. Mackintosh’s twelve years of experience on the British police force makes this one feel incredibly realistic. I ran out and bought my own copy and I am currently re-reading it. It’s that good.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
A few weeks ago I finally read The House We Grew Up In. I finished it in three days. Jewell is an incredibly gifted storyteller and her characters leap right off the page. I was beyond excited when I heard about her new summer novel which hit shelves on Tuesday. I ran out and grabbed a copy and I can’t wait to get started this weekend. Jojo Moyes raves, “Lisa Jewell’s characters are so real that I finish every book half-expecting to bump into one of them. Modern, complex, intuitive, Lisa Jewell just goes from strength to strength.”
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
This will be my third historical novel from Williams. I fell in love with both The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Tiny Little Thing (I finished both in just a few days!) I am making my way through all her novels. She never disappoints and her books are made for summer reading.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House: Memorial Day, 1938 Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.
But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.
As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever…
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty [Release Date: July 26, 2016]
Back in March, I finally jumped on the Moriarty train and read What Alice Forgot, The Husband’s Secret, and Big Little Lies all in one week. I was jumping up and down when I discovered she has a new book coming out this summer!
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin
This autobiography of the First Lady came highly, highly recommended by one of my favourite bookstore employees. Slevin has decades worth of experience writing about Barack and Michelle Obama as well as political campaigns across the U.S. under his belt.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: This is the inspiring story of a modern American icon, the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side. He illuminates her tribulations at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s and the dilemmas she faced in Chicago while building a high-powered career, raising a family, and helping a young community organizer named Barack Obama become president of the United States.
From the lessons she learned in Chicago to the messages she shares as one of the most recognizable women in the world, the story of this First Lady is the story of America. Michelle Obama: A Life is a fresh and compelling view of a woman of unique achievement and purpose.
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
I love a good thriller and this one has been getting some serious buzz. It usually takes me years to give the much-hyped about books a try, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling about this one. The publisher recommends this one for fans of Gillian Flynn (who I haven’t read), Paula Hawkins (who I also haven’t read), and Liane Moriarty (who I love).
Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
I’ve been meaning to read this since last summer. It sounds like the perfect summer read! Library Journal gave it a starred review raving, “The authors hit all the right notes in this funny, smart, emotional tale that will definitely appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes.”
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: 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.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
I’ve been curious about this debut from the creator of TV’s Fargo. And after listening to Hawley talk about his new thriller on NPR’s Morning Edition over the weekend, I knew I had to add it to my list.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
Hilderbrand has written 16 novels. Last summer I finally read my first, The Rumor and fell in love with her writing. I keep recommending it to everyone. Her latest Nantucket-set beach read slated for June 14th release is already available at Indigo here in Canada.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Laurel Thorpe, Belinda Rowe, and Scarlett Oliver share only two things; a love for the man they all married, Deacon Thorpe–a celebrity chef with an insatiable appetite for life–and a passionate dislike of one another. All three are remarkable, spirited women, but they couldn’t be more different. Laurel: Deacon’s high school sweetheart and an effortlessly beautiful social worker; Belinda: a high-maintenance Hollywood diva; and Scarlett: a sexy southern belle floating by on her family money and her fabulous looks. They’ve established a delicate understanding over the years–they avoid each other at all costs.
But their fragile detente threatens to come crashing down after Deacon’s tragic death on his favorite place on earth: a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage. Deacon’s final wish was for his makeshift family to assemble on his beloved Nantucket to say good-bye. Begrudgingly, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett gather on the island as once again, as in each of their marriages, they’re left to pick up Deacon’s mess. Now they’re trapped in the crowded cottage where they all made their own memories–a house that they now share in more ways than one–along with the children they raised with Deacon, and his best friend. Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett each had an unbreakable bond with Deacon–and they all have secrets to hide.
Before the weekend is over, there are enough accusations, lies, tears, and drama to turn even the best of friends–let alone three women who married the same man–into adversaries. As his unlikely family says good-bye to the man who brought them together–for better or worse–will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to raise a glass in Deacon’s honor?
Food and the City by Ina Yalof
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In Food and the City, Ina Yalof takes us on an insider’s journey into New York’s pulsating food scene alongside the men and women who call it home. Dominique Ansel declares what great good fortune led him to make the first cronut. Lenny Berk explains why Woody Allen’s mother would allow only him to slice her lox at Zabar’s. Ghaya Oliveira, who came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker, opens up about her hardscrabble yet swift trajectory from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel. Restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld describes his journey from Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn to New York’s Indisputable Chinese Food Maven.
From old-schoolers such as David Fox, third-generation owner of Fox’s U-bet syrup, and the outspoken Upper West Side butcher “Schatzie,” to new kids on the block including Patrick Collins, sous chef at The Dutch, and Brooklyn artisan Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort Pralines, Food and the City is a fascinating oral history with an unforgettable gallery of New Yorkers who embody the heart and soul of a culinary metropolis.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This new summer release hit shelves on Tuesday. Honestly, Gyasi’s debut historical novel wasn’t on my radar. But it’s a staff pick at my neighbourhood bookstore and I trust their taste.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: A riveting kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day.
The Travelers by Chris Pavone
The Shell Collector: Stories by Anthony Doerr
I discovered my love of short stories after giving the genre a chance for last year’s MMD Reading Challenge. Last spring, I found The Shell Collector in a used bookstore soon after reading and loving All the Light We Cannot See. It’s been on my shelves ever since. The summer seems like the perfect time to dig into the author’s debut short story collection.
Walsh’s debut was on my list of 8 books I can’t wait to read in 2015. Honestly, I’ve picked up this mystery a number of times and had to put it down after a couple of chapters because it just felt too real. I think I’m finally ready to stick with it until the final page.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.
In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’ve never read anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I keep coming across her third novel and I’ve heard good things about it. Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review saying, “Entertaining and unpredictable, Reid makes a compelling case for happiness in every life.”
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm
Scherm’s debut novel came out last spring and landed on my list of 8 books I can’t wait to read in 2015. But I never got to it. Nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel and highly praised by numerous critics, this thriller is a must read. One of my favourite authors, Kimberly McCreight says: “Artfully constructed and beautifully nuanced, Unbecoming is an elegant, page-turning mystery of theft, betrayal, and young love, which brilliantly reveals that the very worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.”
Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: A highly praised debut novel of psychological suspense about a daring art heist, a cat-and-mouse waiting game, and a small-town girl’s mesmerizing transformation.
On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, and resets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. In truth, home is Garland, Tennessee, where two young men have just been paroled. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace planned. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague, contraband in her bag. As Grace’s web of deception unravels, she begins a cat-and-mouse game that echoes the best of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith and is sure to appeal to fans of The Girl on the Train.
I’m a huge fan of Henry’s books and an avid listener of his podcasts.
Synopsis from Amazon.com: Are you doing your best work, or are you just getting by? Are you fulfilled at the end of the day, or are you just glad the day is over? In today’s marketplace, you don’t have the luxury of going with the flow. If you want to succeed – and thrive – you have to do work that sets you apart.
Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Summer just isn’t summer without a good dose of Southern fiction. Kristy Woodson Harvey’s debut novel came highly recommended by my bookstore.
The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
I added Ruhlman’s book to my reading list after the manager at my neighbourhood bookstore raved about it.
Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Just over a decade ago, journalist Michael Ruhlman donned a chef’s jacket and houndstooth-check pants to join the students at the Culinary Institute of America, the country’s oldest and most influential cooking school. But The Making of a Chef is not just about holding a knife or slicing an onion; it’s also about the nature and spirit of being a professional cook and the people who enter the profession. As Ruhlman―now an expert on the fundamentals of cooking―recounts his growing mastery of the skills of his adopted profession, he propels himself and his readers through a score of kitchens and classrooms in search of the elusive, unnameable elements of great food.