Best Beach Reads of 2018

This summer’s list is a bit longer than normal as it’s been an amazing year of incredible reads.  Here are my most recommended for your 2018 summer!

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

Taking place on the Jersey shore,  Brenner seamlessly tackles many tough subjects ranging from grief to CTE to deployment to guilt.  You will easily lose yourself in this story.

 

Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

A story of the 1940s entwined with one of today, Jaeger knows how to grip her audience from the very first page.  I loved the scenes from Hollywood and the sweet underlying love story.

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Just when you think you know how this one will play out, Hunt pulls the seat out from under you.  Read my full review here.

 

 

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock

I laughed out loud at the situations these friends found themselves in.  Between chaos at their bakery and their attempts at love, this relatable debut is one not to be missed.  Read my full review here.

 

Slider by Pete Hautman

Yes, this is a middle grade novel but adults will find the undertones of the importance of family endearing while the kids will think the antics of competitive eating are hilarious.  A great story for the whole family.

 

Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

A multigenerational book that alternates between past and present, this engrossing debut will have you hoping the author is at work on a new novel.  Read my full review here.

 

Say Nothing by Brad Parks

I am all for a breakneck thriller that has me turning the pages and this one delivers.  Full of surprises, Parks masters the tension to make this storyline plausible and fun.

 

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Now that school has ended for the summer, you will appreciate the snark in Gelman’s debut even more.  Read my full review here.

 

 

What have you packed in your beach bag this summer?  Please share your favorites.  This post contains affiliate links.

The Real Michael Swann Review & Giveaway

The Real Michael Swann: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $15.09 USD In Stock

This new release about a man missing in a terrorist attack after an explosion in Penn Station is not quite a thriller but rather a fast-paced novel dealing with the aftermath.

Julia Swann speaks to her husband on his way home from an interview, only to have the call dropped.  Fearing the unknown, Julia does everything in her power to make contact again.  When the news reports a terrorist attack, she is gripped by fear and uncertainty as to if her husband, Michael, survived.

I will say that it took me about a quarter to one-third of the book before I was completely invested.  However, once I was, it seemed the pages were turning themselves.  The story alternated between Julia and Michael.  It was also a story of a marriage, and the readers were treated to their connection before kids as a way to come to grips with the current reality they are both facing.

I think my favorite part of this novel was the epilogue, where Reardon was able to insert political commentary, all the while remaining true to the fictionalized story and the thoughts of the characters.

Book clubs will also find this to be an engaging read with lots of hot topics to discuss.  It’s timely, especially given our political climate, and I imagine everyone would act differently if they were in Julia’s shoes.

My thanks to Dutton for the review copy.

About the author: Bryan Reardon is the author of the New York Times best selling novel, Finding Jake. For the past decade, he has also worked as a freelance writer specializing in medical communications, and as a ghost writer. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and Cruel Harvest. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for over a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.  U.S. only, please.
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Campaign Widows Review

Campaign Widows (Paperback)


New From: $9.72 USD In Stock

When I first heard this was a mash between Sex and the City and The West Wing, I was sold.  The wittiness of one matched with the binge-worthiness of the other?  I will tell you it favors the former.  More like if Sex and the City was set in Washington DC.

Campaign Widows switches narration between several campaign widows, those who are left in Washington DC while their significant others travel on the campaign trail during election season.

I will be honest.  I had a little trouble keeping track of all the main characters along with the supporting players, especially at the beginning.  There are a lot.  My suggestion is to give yourself a good chunk of pages when you get started so you can get through everyone a couple times and absorb it all.

My favorite character was Reagan, a speechwriter/mommy blogger trying to navigate the current election with her husband on the road while she chased after twins.  She was completely relatable and I loved her witty one-liners.  You could tell the author has a writing and pop culture background.

I did enjoy reading about all the highs and lows of the campaigns, especially given the current political climate in the U.S.  This story is pure escapist fun and would be perfect for a beach read or your summer vacation.  I could easily see this as a TV show or miniseries and it would be a lot more fun to watch than the news we are seeing these days.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: A former “campaign widow,” Aimee Agresti is the author of the Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. She’s also an entertainment journalist—who’s interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Angelina Jolie—and a former staff writer for Us Weekly, where she penned the coffee table book Inside Hollywood and continues to contribute to the magazine’s series of stand-alone collector’s issues on stars ranging from Taylor Swift to Princess Diana.

In addition to Us, her work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and Headline News.
She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

We Own the Sky Review

We Own the Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $17.70 USD In Stock

I knew when I turned the first page of this novel and read the author’s note, it would be a heart-wrenching read.  And it was.  However, the end left me with hope and an uplifting message.

From back cover: Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

What I loved so much about this book is that Allnutt does an exquisite job of writing a man’s perspective.  It’s so rare to see this from a male writer outside of a thriller.  Of course Rob had flaws like any human, and they were shown, but I believed in his love for his son and for his family.

And, yes, the tears flowed.  But they were cleansing tears.  Hard to read but worth it for the outcome.  Definitely warning those who won’t want to read a book about the loss of a child.  I’m thankful I have never experienced this myself, but the story seemed so genuine.  All of the situations and relationships did.

My thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Luke Allnutt is the author of Unspoken, a Kindle Single about the death of his father. His debut novel, We Own The Sky, will be published by Orion (U.K.) and Harlequin/HarperCollins (U.S.) in 2018. He grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke

Website | Twitter

Ecstasy Review & Giveaway

Ecstasy: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $17.10 USD In Stock

This is Alma Schindler Mahler’s love, or lack thereof, story.  It starts as she is a teenager on vacation with her family and takes her through the years of courting, to marriage and children, and back to a need to define who will truly fulfill her and make her happy.

The cover — I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to pick this book up…I can promise you the story will.  For music lovers and historical fiction fans, I urge you to get your hands on this one.

The writing is exquisite but does not slow down the pace at all.  Each chapter had me racing to Google to find out more of the facts of Alma’s life along with photos and snippets from diary entries and letters.  It’s obvious the amount of research Sharratt put in to complete this novel.  Even the afterword accounts for what a fascinating life Alma led.

I empathized with Alma as a mother and wife and losing a piece of herself with it all.  It’s so hard to find the balance, and I loved that this theme, while prevalent in the 1900s, carries so well into today’s world.  It really proves how strong women have always been.

While this story is primarily about Alma and her life, what Sharratt does so well is write secondary characters with such detail and emotion.  Even though some, like her sister Gretl, were barely in the book, I felt like I knew her so well.  Guests at dinner parties she met once were truly three-dimensional.  If this became a movie, which no doubt, it should, I would be the first in line for tickets.

My thanks to the publisher and HFVBT for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Her novels include Summit Avenue, The Real Minera, The Vanishing Point, The Daughters of Witching Hill, Illuminations, and The Dark Lady’s Mask.

For more information, please visit Mary Sharratt’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 10
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, April 11
Feature at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 12
Review at Bookfever
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 13
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Review at View From the Birdhouse

Saturday, April 14
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, April 16
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, April 17
Review at Based on a True Story

Wednesday, April 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, April 19
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 20
Review at Linda’s Book Obsession

Sunday, April 22
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Monday, April 23
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, April 25
Review at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 26
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, April 27
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, April 30
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Tuesday, May 1
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, May 3
Interview at The Writing Desk

Monday, May 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, May 9
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 10
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, May 11
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Monday, May 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, May 17
Review at Nicole Evelina

Friday, May 18
Interview at Nicole Evelina

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Ecstasy! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Ecstasy

You All Grow Up and Leave Me Review

Combining stories of her own childhood and adolescence while reporting on a unique case of someone she trusted during that time, Piper Weiss has written a story of growing up in the ‘90s mixed with a scandal that broke with her tennis coach.

The author is the same age as me, so I appreciated all the references to the clothes and the styles during the time she was in middle school because it was the same for me.  It made her more relatable, as we experienced school and fads together.

It seemed like a lot of this book was written as therapy, as she was coming to grips with what happened and why her coach behaved the way he did.  She touched based with a lot of people she knew back then to try to dig for answers and as much information as she could.

I was hoping for more of the true crime aspect of the story.  I realize there wasn’t a lot of information out there about it or people who could speak to it, but it read more like a straight-up memoir because of it.  I felt there was a lack of information on the subject and we got the ending rather than the beginning and middle.

Those who enjoy reads about girls coming of age in such stories as Marlena by Julie Buntin and Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman will find similarities to this book.

The uniqueness of the style of writing and the chapter titles cemented her ability as a storyteller.  It wouldn’t have been the same book otherwise.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews!

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Piper Weiss

Piper Weiss has served as editor in chief at Levo, editorial director for HelloGiggles, and features editor for the New York Daily News and Yahoo. She is the author of the book My Mom, Style Icon and has written for various publications, including Hazlitt, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Elle.com, and Refinery29. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Find out more about Piper at her website, and connect with her on Instagram.

The Other Mother Review

The Other Mother: A Novel (Paperback)


New From: $10.99 USD In Stock

Talk about an unreliable narrator.  Or two.  If you’re a fan of suspense written in this style, you’ll want to get your hands on this book.  For me, I felt there were too many coincidences to make it believable.

I have always been a fan of Carol Goodman’s reads.  She does eerie, mental institutions, and psychosis so well.  She is the perfect author to grab her book and a blanket and sit in front of a cozy fire to read.

For this one we meet Daphne, a new mother who is struggling with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Chloe.  She heads to a support group and meets Laurel, another new mom with her daughter, Chloë.  How eerie that they both share a name, except you’ll notice her Chloë has the umlaut.  And that’s where the similarities begin.  These women form a fast and tight friendship and they both begin to question their lives and their support network.  I don’t want to say too much so as to spoil the story.

I will say I’m surprised the author didn’t confuse herself when writing.  Aside from the similarities between Daphne and Laurel, we follow another storyline of a past patient at a mental institution where Daphne travels for her new job.  You really have to be focused when reading this one so you don’t miss anything.

This book is definitely dark and has several twists.  I don’t know if I’m burnt out on the unreliable narrator but there were a couple I just didn’t buy.  I enjoy them more when they don’t seem forced or thrown in for the sake of a twist.  But I may be in the minority here and recommend checking out if you are generally a suspense fan.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy.  Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the author: Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz. Find out more about Carol on her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Before I Let You Go Review & Giveaway

Before I Let You Go (Paperback)


New From: $11.59 USD In Stock

Oh, this book has my heart.  What a compelling, emotional journey I just returned from.

Lexie receives a call at 2:00 am that nobody is prepared to hear.  Her sister, Annie, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, is in trouble.  Lexie rushes to her aid and finds her living in a dirty trailer, addicted to drugs, and pregnant.  Having always rescued Annie in times of trouble, Lexie makes it s point to make sure Annie gets help again.  But with the law working against her, it isn’t as easy this time.

I loved how addiction, while a main focus, wasn’t the only issue brought up in this novel.  Rimmer also confronts abuse, religious sects, death, legal battles, learning to be an adult before you’re ready, and the struggles of balancing it all.  There are so many subjects to foster a great book discussion here, so if your book club is looking for new fiction, this would be a perfect choice.

If you’re a fan of heartbreaking, yet heartwarming fiction and enjoyed books such as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, this is one you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.  And I guarantee it will quickly become a favorite

Be prepared to shed some tears.  For me, the cry was a cleansing, and I felt better after having finished it.  Hug your sisters and your brothers and your mothers and your fathers and your children a little tighter today.  And then tell them they need to read this book.

I received an advanced copy from Little Bird Publicity and the publisher.

About the author:

I write contemporary women’s fiction. My novels, Me Without You, The Secret Daughter, When I Lost You and A Mother’s Confession have been published by Bookouture.

You can find some more information about me at www.kellyrimmer.com.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Final Six Review & Giveaway

The Final Six (Hardcover)


New From: $12.03 USD In Stock

I have always been a fan of dystopian reads, my favorites being Station Eleven for adults and Life as We Knew It for YA.  With the release of The Final Six, I now have another to add to the list.

Reading this book felt like The Hunger Games meets Divergent in space.   I am not a big sci-fi fan, yet I was yearning to return to the story to see what would happen next.  So please don’t discount this book even if it’s outside your favorite genre.

With so much of life on Earth gone because of natural disasters, NASA decides to enlist 24 teenagers to train and compete to make up a final 6 to fly to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and set up a civilization in hopes to perpetuate life there.  The teens are chosen in a ceremony after being carefully vetted based on what skills they can bring to the necessary mission.  Two standouts are Naomi from the United States, a tech and science expert, and Leo from Italy, stupendous in his underwater skills.

The narration switches off between Leo and Naomi.  Along the way they have to watch out for others trying to sabotage them and coming to grips that they might leave Earth and their families forever.

I loved the training and simulations for their mission.  And I was pleasantly surprised at some of the twists throughout the way.  Given that this genre can be saturated, I enjoyed space as a new concept.  Fans of movies like Gravity and Apollo 13 will find a lot to like in this story.  I’m eager to discover what’s next for these teens in the next book, which is hopefully coming soon!  So thrilled, also, that this has already been optioned for film, because it will be great to see this adventure come to life.

My thanks to the publisher and MB Communications for the review copy.

About the author:

Author and recording artist Alexandra Monir broke onto the scene in her early twenties with the release of her popular debut YA novel, the paranormal romance TIMELESS (Delacorte Press/Random House). The book caught on quickly, landing on the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers chart and being named one of Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month.” The sequel, TIMEKEEPER, was published in 2013. Both books in the series have been featured in a variety of media, from USA Today to teen magazines and websites such as J-14, JustJaredJr, Teen.com and Justine Magazine. SUSPICION (Random House; December 9, 2014) marks Alexandra’s first novel outside of the TIMELESS series, as well as her first foray into the mystery genre. Her fourth YA novel for Random House will be published in April 2016.

Alexandra is also a singer/songwriter, known for integrating music into her books’ pages. She wrote and recorded three original songs to accompany the TIMELESS books, released as the album “The Timeless EP” and distributed by Jimmy Buffett’s record label, Mailboat Records. She additionally recorded a new song to be released along with SUSPICION, and is composing a stage musical geared toward Broadway. Alexandra is the granddaughter of the late Monir Vakili, the foremost Persian opera singer.

Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She has been invited to speak at middle schools and high schools across the country, and at major events including Comic-Con, Bouchercon, the Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference, and New York Public Library’s annual Teen Author Festival, among others.

Thanks to MB Communications, I have a copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Hot Mess Review

Hot Mess (Paperback)


New From: $10.99 USD In Stock

Good girl + bad boy + the food scene in my favorite city, Chicago = an entertaining and fun read.

Perfedtly titled, as it describes the characters and plot, Hot Mess focuses on 25-year-old Allie Simon, an up-and-coming social media guru dating Chicago’s ultimate bad boy chef, Benji Zane, a genius in the kitchen with a drug addiction in his past.  When Benji and general manager, Angela, want to open a brand-new restaurant, Here, they convince Allie to invest, just to get them started.

I loved the planning and prep part of the story for when Allie and Angela were focused on getting Here ready to open.  I learned so much about what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant, everything from sourcing vendors to ordering dishes and hiring staff.  Belden had great dialogue so that I learned a lot while still getting a kick out of everything happening.

I wish Allie wasn’t so naive.  Granted, she’s young, and I absolutely appreciated her growth throughout the novel, but she still made some less-than-smart choices.  The romance added a little sizzle to the story.  Given today’s obsession with Instagramming your entree and Tweeting your experiences, I loved how Belden incorporated all of that into the running of Here.

This would be a perfect read for a trip to the beach or a long plane ride.  The antics of the characters along with the trials and tribulations of opening a restaurant will keep you happily turning the pages.

About the author: Emily Belden is a food journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novels Hot Mess and Husband Material, and of Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. After she tiled her bedroom floor in over 60,000 pennies – all heads up for good luck – she was a guest on The Today Show and her story was covered by media outlets across the country. A Chicago native, Emily lives with her rescue dog in the West Loop, conveniently close to many of the city’s best restaurants.  You can reach Emily on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews!  My thanks for the review copy from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.