My first summer reading guide is finally here and I could not be more thrilled! For years now I’ve wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite book recommendations and I finally managed to do it. Just in time too, today is the first official day of summer and I have you covered so you can fill up your online shopping carts or put those holds in at the library or maybe get your Kindle loaded before your vacation. From recent releases, to upcoming ones I’m excited about all the way to favorites from summers past there is something for everyone here. Let me know what’s on your summer TBR!
New Release Recommendations
These next ones are basically my summer TBR, they’re not out yet but will be between the end of June through August.
I tried to really comb through my old reviews and find books that I really enjoyed in past summers in the hopes that they may be easier for everyone to get their hands on. I’ve also linked to my review when I could if you want more details.
Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .
In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she?
As these two lives intersect, The Stranger in the Mirror hooks readers with riveting drama, told with Liv Constantine’s hallmark blend of glamour, tense psychological thrills, and jaw-dropping twists.
At first glance, and even for the first quarter of the book honestly, this seemed like a formulaic thriller with a path that would be very easy to follow. Things seemed so straightforward and predictable really, but there’s something about the authors writing style that never fails to grip me. Amnesia storylines have been done time and time again, but this put a new spin on things that I certainly haven’t ever seen before so it actually made it feel like a fresh read.
I think the most important thing to know about this one before you start it is that you cannot take it too seriously. It’s outlandish and ridiculous but it’s deliciously fun as well. You have to suspend all disbelief and just take it for what it is, a fun, entertaining and wild thriller that’s twisty and totally consuming. I flew through this in record time and found myself thinking about it when I did have to put it aside so there’s definitely an addictive quality to it. It was also disturbing and slightly creepy at moments, and despite a few predictable things, there were a couple unpredictable parts for me as well, so overall a fun summer thriller.
At forty-nine, famed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales was nursing a broken heart and wondering, “How did I wind up alone?” On the advice of a young friend, she downloaded Tinder, then a brand-new dating app. What followed was a raucous ride through the world of online dating. Sales, an award-winning journalist and single mom, became a leading critic of the online dating industry, reporting and writing articles and making her directorial debut with the HBO documentary Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age. Meanwhile, she was dating a series of younger men, eventually falling in love with a man less than half her age.
Nothing Personal is Sales’s memoir of coming-of-middle-age in the midst of a new dating revolution. She is unsparingly honest about her own experience of addiction to dating apps and hilarious in her musings about dick pics, sexting, dating FOMO, and more. Does Big Dating really want us to find love, she asks, or just keep on using its apps?
Fiercely feminist, Nothing Personal investigates how Big Dating has overwhelmed the landscape of dating, cynically profiting off its users’ deepest needs and desires. Looking back through the history of modern courtship and her own relationships, Sales examines how sexism has always been a factor for women in dating, and asks what the future of courtship will bring, if left to the designs of Silicon Valley’s tech giants—especially in a time of social distancing and a global pandemic, when the rules of romance are once again changing.
Do you read many memoirs? I really don’t honestly, but if I do I tend to prefer to listen to them as opposed to reading them. This one caught my eye because I myself have never used a dating app before, I met my husband long before apps in general were even a thing, but they’ve always intrigued me in a, damn I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with them when I was single type of way. I’ve had friends tell me horror stories of course and then I’ve had other friends who have met the love of their life using one, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a raw, honest and vulnerable portrayal of just how exhausting being on one can be until I read this one. The author digs deep into the pitfalls of apps like Tinder and speaks about how addictive they can be and also how toxic, unhealthy and ultimately unfulfilling and damaging they can be for women. I was fascinated by some of the stories she shared and found her to be witty, insightful and honest.
My favorite audiobook narrator is Therese Plummer so imagine my utter delight when I started this one and heard her voice! She also narrated the Virgin River series which I devoured in audio format last year and she could read me the dictionary and I would be mesmerized, she’s THE best!! You know how when some female narrators try to change their voice when they’re speaking as a man? Oftentimes it sounds silly or forced but she nails this and many other inflections and accents. I’m telling y’all, she’s amazing! If you haven’t listened to her before start here, she did an excellent job of bringing Nancy Jo’s story to life.
When my husband found this perfect little cabin in the woods for our honeymoon, I couldn’t wait to get away. Just us in the middle of the forest, waking up every day in the trees, ending each night in the hot tub under the stars. But now I’m not sure that I know my husband at all…
I just wish we’d gone to the police when someone left a note on the doormat saying: She’s dead, you’re next. Ryan said I was overreacting, but I don’t understand why he won’t go to the cops now things are getting worse. Can I trust my husband?
I’ve known about the terrible thing that Ryan did for years and it’s been tearing me apart. Last night I told him I would always keep his secret. But is the man I married hiding something else from me?
Now someone has cut the phone lines and we’re trapped here. Ryan swears he has no idea what’s going on and just wants to keep us safe. I’m here alone in the middle of the dark forest with the man I thought I could trust. My heart is racing and there’s no one I can call…
My husband promised till death do us part. Am I about to find out what that means?
Have you read a book by this author before? I discovered her last year and have been making my way through her books ever since. Whenever I feel kinda slumpy or when I need a guaranteed fast paced and exciting thriller I know I can grab one of her books because that’s exactly the type she consistently writes. All of that to say, if you haven’t read her before she has an extensive backlist and she comes out with new books several times a year, I swear she’s a writing machine, but I’ve totally enjoyed every book of hers I’ve read thus far!
I love an atmospheric thriller and this one delivers, the isolated cabin in the woods was eerie and then add in the creepy things that keep happening to Grace and Ryan and you have a chilling read. This was a fast read, both because it’s under 300 pages with short and snappy chapters, but also because things unfold so quickly you can’t bear to put it down. As always I didn’t see the twists coming ahead of time and I was definitely surprised by the direction this took, lots of secrets and lies and plenty of darkness as well, overall everything I want in an entertaining thriller.
When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma, she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive, she decides to start over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer.
Desperate for a new start, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care because he can’t find senior care. On top of that, she and Ali bring the term “frenemies” to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another.
In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for her Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to learn that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.
I just adore this series and always look forward to the latest installment. I read most of the books during the height of the pandemic and they brought me so much comfort. They’re all set in the same town but can easily be read on their own as each book focuses on a new group of people so if you’re hesitant to start because it’s a series you can definitely jump in. Per usual there’s a premise that sucks you right in, Emma has just woken up from a coma and her fiancée and BFF are now together. She’s focused on her recovery with the help of her PT, Simon and the sparks are flying with these two! I loved their chemistry and found them to be a perfectly believable match right away. You also have the side romance between Emma’s frenemy Ali as well and then the snark between the two women was also really fun. There’s also plenty of family drama and the author always handles messy family dynamics in the most engaging way, another winner from one of my most trusted authors.
This was my first time listening to the audio version instead of reading the print and I loved the narrator, Erin Mallon. Jill’s books always have a ton of humor and she really brought these characters and their sarcasm to life so definitely recommend that version of you’re curious!
Foster sisters Krystal and Nichole have always been there for each other, so when Nichole is committed to a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill her husband, Krystal drops everything to defend her.
Scarred by a hard upbringing, Nichole and Krystal managed to construct comfortable lives for themselves. Krystal became a respected lawyer, and Nichole was happily married to an architect—until Nichole starts raving that her husband isn’t her husband, believing that he’s an imposter.
Driven by fierce loyalty, Krystal starts asking questions, but she’s not sure she can bear the answers. Her investigation leads to the sisters’ dark shared past…to a horrible tragedy and a well-guarded lie that cemented their sisterly bond.
But that lie can’t kill the truth—the battered, gasping, clawing truth that’s coming for them both. Now Krystal and Nichole must both fight for the lives they’ve built before they’re consumed by the one they left behind.
I’m such a fan of this author, she writes really smart psychological thrillers and as a psychologist herself she provides such a fascinating insight into her books. She has a knack for getting deep inside her characters minds and psyches that really allows for a very interesting reading experience. If you like psychological thrillers with an emphasis on the psychological aspect you have to check out her books.
This flips from the present day and Krystal’s viewpoint to the past in Nichole’s POV. Both timelines were great and super interesting for me, both women had an incredibly rough childhood and seeing how their bond in the past informed their present day relationship was fascinating for me. As the book nears the finish line I was totally caught up in this dark story of loyalty and how tragic events can bond people in an unbreakable way. Definitely recommended as a fast paced and engaging read.
He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything–his identity, his life, his loved ones–has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.
Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.
Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?
Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.
Amnesia storylines are not usually my favorite thing in a thriller but there was something about the description of this one that urged me to give it a chance. Initially when I started this I was intrigued by the three viewpoints and the mystery surrounding all of them. By about a quarter of the way through I started to get a little bit bored and I even debated on setting it aside, but again, something kept telling me to give it a little more time. I’m glad I did because things got better in the end.
One of the reasons I almost gave up on this was I predicted many of the things that happened along the way. I think many thriller readers will be able to do the same, BUT the ending was so strong for me that I think it was worth it. I was almost lulled into a false sense of security having seen things coming ahead if time so when the last couple of chapters arrived with some true surprises, I was very pleased. If you don’t mind having some patience this could work for you, I am happy I finished and applaud the author for a satisfying and dark conclusion.
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.
So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
With the humor and heart we’ve come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.
Ok why have I never read a Steven Rowley book before?! This was such a funny, tender read with the most endearing characters, I just freaking adored it.
Despite the premise being sad with Maisie and Grant losing their mother and then immediately after her death their father checks himself into rehab, this was mostly lighthearted. Patrick has the exact type of sarcastic humor that I adore and seeing him put his niece and nephews needs above his own was hilarious, poignant and heartwarming. It was also insightful as it examined grief and loss as well as navigating life as a gay man. I can’t really say enough good things about this one, it was everything for me. Definitely recommended by me, especially if you enjoy character driven comedies with a cast that you won’t forget.
Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or… has he? When his sister’s best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.
Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 manwho shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie… wants him? Oh yes.
Getting involved would be a terrible idea—her stay is temporary and he wants forever—but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies… as long as you think your partner hung the moon.
Aww this was such a cute book! I love the recent insurgence of rom com books giving a nod to nostalgic rom com movies, it makes me wistful for the movies of my youth. Brendon being the rom com lover was such a sweet flip of the usual gender roles, I’ve read plenty of books where the heroine is obsessed but this is the first one where the hero is the bigger fan and it was adorable and endearing. When I read the first book in this series, Written in the Stars I was so curious about him and was delighted to see him as the lead here. Annie was lovable and fun, I actually felt sorry for her as a big part of the plot here focused on pressuring her to basically give up her entire life to move to Seattle and thought her best friend, Darcy was damn harsh a few times. It just seemed a little over the top to me, but overall this was freaking cute.
The audio was wonderful, this was the first time I listened to a book narrated by Lauren Sweet and she did a great job inflections emotion into her voice that made it incredibly easy for me to get swept away by the story. I’ll definitely be looking for her name the next time I’m browsing a new audiobook to listen to, do you ever do that? If I’m really drawn to a narrator I’ll seek them out and maybe even try a book I wouldn’t normally listen to if I know they have an engaging manner.
Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.
Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.
Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.
Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.
Hey everyone! I’m super excited to be sharing an excerpt from The Stepsisters today. If you wanna follow along with the tour click hereI also listened to the audio version so read on for my thoughts on that as well!
Daisy walked into the locker room, stretching her neck and trying to release the kinks in her back. The surgery had gone long, with her seven-year-old kidney patient requiring unexpected repair work on her large intestine.
Daisy had worried about the extended time under anesthesia, given her patient’s weak condition. But little Molly had come through like a champ. Daisy had stayed with her in recovery until her patient had woken up. Once she’d confirmed Molly was breathing comfortably and not in too much pain, she’d left her in the capable hands of the recovery room team.
She opened her locker, pulled out her cell phone and saw she’d missed a call from her father. She pushed the button to call him back and took a seat on the bench.
“Hey, Dad,” she said. “I was in surgery.”
“I figured. Everything go all right?”
She smiled. “My patient did great. So, what’s up?”
As she asked the question, she found herself tensing. Her father had retired and moved to Hawaii a couple of years ago. He’d quickly realized that he wasn’t ready to not work and had joined a small general medicine practice in Maui. He worked a few days a week and frequently came back to LA to visit.
Not now, she thought desperately, knowing that there was no way to keep the situation with Jordan a secret if her father came to town. While he often chose to stay at the Bel Air Hotel, he would still be close enough to figure out there was a problem. As she had no idea what was happening with her husband, she doubted she could explain the situation to her father.
“I’m calling about Cassidy,” her father said. “There’s been an accident.”
Daisy tried to remember if she knew where her half sister was these days. Cassidy was a travel writer. While her home base was in Miami, she was frequently off visiting exotic places. Although hadn’t Sage mentioned something about Patagonia?
Given they were sisters, one would assume Daisy and Cassidy would stay in touch, but that never happened. Despite sharing a father, they weren’t exactly close. Eight years younger, Cassidy had initially been tight with Daisy, but after the divorce, everything had changed. Sage had become the beloved, fun sister, while Daisy was merely to be tolerated.
“A couple of days ago,” her father said, drawing her back into the conversation. “She fell while hiking in Patagonia. She has some broken bones and maybe a concussion. It’s hard to tell exactly, because her doctor didn’t speak much English and my Spanish is terrible. Desean was there, so he told me what had happened. He’s going to stay with her until she’s on the plane back home.”
“Her boyfriend.” Wallace sounded surprised she didn’t know. “I’m not sure that’s how she’d refer to him, but they’ve been seeing each other on and off for a while now. I met him the last time I visited Cassidy. He’s a good man. I like him. He said he would get her onto the plane I’m chartering.”
“To fly her back to Miami?”
“No, to Los Angeles. She’s going to need round-the-clock care and somewhere to stay. I’m assuming I can have her brought to the house.”
Daisy held in a groan. There was only one house in their family and she was living in it.
While her father knew in his head that she and Cassidy hadn’t gotten along in years, he’d always wanted them to be closer. They were “his girls,” as he still called them. Even after the divorce, he’d stayed in touch with Sage and had visited her a couple of times in Europe.
“Dad, no,” she began, then stopped. There was no way to refuse. The house was big enough and Cassidy was family. Wallace wanted to take care of his daughter—end of story.
Dozens of thoughts flashed through her head. Things like wondering how long she could keep the separation a secret and what she was going to tell the kids and how mean Cassidy was going to be, but she ignored them. Instead she told herself to suck it up and said, “When is she arriving?”
“In two days. I’ll email you the particulars, including some ideas about nursing care. I can’t get away for a couple of weeks. I have too many patients scheduled. But I’ll get there as soon as I can.”
“There’s no need to rush, Dad. We’ll be fine.” A lie, but the last thing she needed was her father showing up, as well.
“Thank you for doing this, Daisy. I’m going to let Joanne know. If you’d tell Sage, I’d appreciate it. Do you have her number?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’ll text it to you, along with the flight information when I get it. I’m not happy Cassidy was hurt, but I’m glad you three girls will have a chance to hang out together. It’s been a long time since that last happened.”
It had never happened, she thought grimly. Daisy and Cassidy had been close and then Cassidy and Sage had bonded.
An uncomfortable thought occurred to her. What if Cassidy and Sage were still tight? That would mean if Cassidy came to stay, Sage would follow. Unless she’d already gone back to Italy, andwouldn’t that be nice.
I’m a longtime fan of the author and have completely enjoyed reading her books in print, but a few months ago I decided to try the audio version of another book of hers and absolutely loved the narrator, Tanya Eby. When I got the chance to have an early listen of The Stepsisters it was a no brainer, Tanya is an incredible narrator and really brings the characters Susan creates to life. She has such an engaging quality in her voice, if you’re an audiobook listener this was fantastic!
I loved the premise here, the messiness of these women’s complex family dynamics appealed to me so much. You have Daisy who is dealing with a troubled marriage, her ex stepsister Sage, who has more issues than I can get into here, and then their half sister, Cassidy who had an accident and needs their help. The idea of dealing with ex family members who you have a troubled past relationship with sounds like a nightmare but wow did it make for some pretty amusing reading! I didn’t grow up with step siblings but I can’t imagine reuniting as adults who aren’t even really related anymore and then trying to unpack old issues and problems, just sounds awful but I liked witnessing these characters work through things. No one writes complex family dramas like the author and if you like messy families as much as I do check this one out. This felt a little sharper and more edgy than the authors previous books and I am here for it. Give me some catty women, drama and people behaving badly as a summer read and I’m all in.