All the Broken People
page count: 368
publication date: June 30, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam's Sons for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Lucy King flees from Brooklyn to rural, hippie-town Woodstock with her small dog and few belongings to escape a life she needs to disappear from. Renting a small cottage on the outskirts of town, she befriends neighbors Vera and John, becoming completely bewitched by their life together. Stories about John float through town, and the couple decides to stage an "accident" that will allow them to disappear themselves, abandoning the whispers and rumors in their community. Lucy becomes entangled in their plot, and can't figure out who she can trust.
Liked: Overall, I enjoyed the setting of Woodstock and the author does well in describing John, Vera, and the home they share there. The writing was strong.
Disliked: Nothing sticks out, I just tend to be very hard on mystery/thrillers...more than any other genre for sure.
I recommend this as a fun summer read! 🌟🌟🌟🌟
publication date: July 21, 2020
Perfect as an airplane read or for enjoying on the beach.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an Advanced Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review.
The families of four longtime girlfriends rent a luxurious villa in the south of France for a relaxing vacation together, in lieu of the normal girls' getaways the women often share together. Soon after arrival, Kate, mother of two and wife to Sean, uncovers some disturbing and mysterious text messages on her husband's phone and quickly realizes he is having an affair...with one of her friends currently in the villa with them. As the vacation ambles on and Kate tries to figure out who has betrayed her, family secrets are revealed and lives are destroyed forever when someone is found dead on the villa's property.
I love stories of "vacations gone awry" so this mystery/thriller was a solid entertaining read for me. I wish the setting had been even more a focus of the book, as it could have taken place anywhere in the world and I do love a strong sense of place. The awkwardness and uncomfortable exchanges between the various family members were well done, and I had no idea which direction the plot was heading.
A good summer read! 🌟🌟🌟🌟
title: The Safe Place
author: Anna Downes
genre: thriller / page-turner
publication date: July 14, 2020
page count: 352
Perfect as an airplane or poolside read.
Thank you NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an Advanced Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review.
When struggling young actress Emily loses her office temp job and receives an eviction notice from her landlord for too many late payments, her future seems more uncertain than ever. Former employer, company CEO Scott Denny, takes notice of her and believes her to be the perfect fit for their family, serving as an assistant to his wife, playmate to his young daughter, and caretaker of their sprawling oceanside property. Emily accepts, quickly forming a bond with wife Nina as they spend hours a day together restoring the grounds, lounging poolside, and prepping elaborate meals. Young Aurelia is a bit more work, but even she begins to trust Emily as they spend more time together. But, something just feels off…
With a little research, Emily begins to uncover the family’s darkest secrets and suddenly her dream job by the sea is a complete nightmare.
Liked: I absolutely loved the setting - the description of the massive Querencia property and how Emily and Nina spend their days gives me the summer vibes. The story kept me reading, too, and I had fun with this one.
Disliked: Some of the lines in the book were a bit cheesy. The plot is a bit predictable, but still a fun ride.
Recommend for a great summer read. 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Summer reading looks different for everyone, but for me, it’s all about the page-turning thrillers (this will be another list!) or diving into a book whose cover just screams beach, sun, and sand. I love seasonal reading, and heading out to my front porch with a glass of iced tea and a book with a summery cover makes me so happy during the warmest months in Cleveland.
Ideally, my summer reading contains the following:
1.) a summer vacation house on a lake or the ocean
2.) family members or friends gathering for an event
3.) a great deal of detail about clothing/food/décor that gives me all the summer vibes
Are you looking for some great seasonal summer reads? Check out this backlist book list – these should be easier for you to acquire from your library or eBook account since they were published some time ago.
The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon
The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan
The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner
Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
anything by Elin Hilderbrand
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Are you looking for more summer reading recommendations?
One of my favorite reading friends, Gen the Bookworm, has assembled a fantastic list of current summer reads. Make sure to give her a follow on Instagram too! She loves podcasts, lives in gorgeous rural Vermont, and shares fun photos from her life as a mom and reader.
And, if you need even MORE books for your summer reading list, here are nine books I can’t wait to read this summer, as posted in early June 2020.
I have always loved summer reading.
From participating in my local library's summer reading programs as a child to excitedly reading blog posts promoting the year's hottest summer books, my favorite of pastimes certainly takes on a different feel when the days get longer and the sun gets hotter.
I am what I would describe as "a seasonal reader" and definitely gravitate to certain genres during certain months of the year. September and October call for spookier reads and horror fiction, a genre I didn't even know I liked until a couple of years ago. I love Christmas stories in November and December, read underneath the warmth of a heated blanket and the glow of the tree. To me, summer reading is all about page-turning thrillers and light, summery beach reads, although I will dive occasionally into other types of books from June through August. While you'll normally find me reading poolside or on vacation, this summer, as we continue to shelter-in-place, I will enjoy most of my summer books on my front porch.
Here are 9 books I can't wait to read this summer:
pub date: 8/4/20
Alternating between past and present, The Comeback tells the story of teen actress Grace Turner and her rise to fame under a manipulative director and her eventual self-exile from the film industry. When asked to present a lifetime achievement award to this man, she can no longer hide from her past and learns that her come back must also be her “fight back”.
Why I am Excited: I will read just about any book with the film industry as a backdrop, so as soon as I read the summary for this one, I knew I was all in.
Silvia Moreno Garcia
pub date: 6/30/20
Noemí Taboada receives a desperate letter seeking help from her cousin, a 1950s newlywed living tucked away in High Place, a mysterious home set in the Mexican countryside. While there, Noemí uncovers a history of family secrets, violence, and madness.
Why I am Excited: Gothic horror fiction is one of my favorite genres, and with comparisons to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (one of my favorite books of all-time), it immediately went on my list. Mexico holds a special place in my heart, and I also gravitate towards any book with this setting.
Romance writer January Andrews and literary writer Augustus Everett spend the summer in neighboring beach houses, broke and battling their writer's block together. They decide to challenge one another to write a book in the other’s genre, swapping their normal, acclaimed writing styles for something completely different.
Why I am Excited: Very few rom-coms strike a chord with me, although I am always on the hunt for a great, light love story for summer. As a May Book of the Month selection, I have seen this one all over Bookstagram getting rave reviews from fellow readers.
Home Before Dark
pub date: 6/30/20
Twenty five years ago, Maggie Holt’s parents moved into Baneberry Hall, a Victorian estate in the secluded Vermont woods. Fleeing after experiencing three weeks of inexplicable supernatural activity, Maggie’s father published a bestselling memoir based on their brief time living in the home. Maggie, too young to remember the incident and generally a skeptic anyway, decides to undertake a renovation of the home when she inherits it after her father’s death. When she begins to experience the same occurrences as described in her father’s infamous book, she starts to believe in the stories she initially brushed off as fiction.
Why I am Excited: I have read all of Riley Sager’s books, and they are always a page-turning great time. I can’t wait to dive into this one. (And I love spooky house stories, which is my favorite sub-genre of horror fiction.)
The Night Swim
pub date: 8/4/20
Podcast host Rachel Krall becomes a household name after covering a brutal crime in a small town. When a mysterious note begging for her professional skills is left on her car's windshield, Rachel begins research for a new case: a rape trial for a small town’s beloved Olympics-bound swimmer. While working on this mystery, she digs back into the drowning death of her sister 25 years prior, as odd notes about that incident continue to appear for her in unexpected places. The two cases begin to intertwine and change the course of the town's trial, affecting many lives in the process.
Why I am Excited: Goldin’s The Escape Room was one of my top-ten books of 2019. I could NOT put it down, and barreled through it in two days. I have high expectations for this follow-up, and with its great reviews so far, I don't think I will be disappointed.
pub date: 6/16/20
A literary take on the film Same Time Next Year, 28 Summers explores the relationship between Mallory and Jake, who meet at a Nantucket cottage bachelor party in 1993 and spend one weekend per year together after that. When Mallory passes away in the spring of 2020, she leaves instructions for her son to call a mysterious phone number that turns out to be Jake...Jake, who is married to the leading candidate for the presidential nominee. The book explores Mallory and Jake’s years-long relationship and how it complicates and affects the lives of their loved ones.
Why I am Excited: Summer reading for me, IS Elin Hilderbrand. I love being whisked away to Nantucket each year, and while her books are hit-or-miss for me, I read her newest each summer.
The Daughters of Erietown
pub date: 6/9/20
A family story spanning from the 1950s to the 1970s, The Daughters of Erietown introduces readers to teenage lovebirds Ellie and Brick, their lives in rural Ohio, and the issues that affect working class families and communities during this period in history.
Why I am Excited: I have been a longtime admirer of Connie Schultz and can't wait to read her first foray into fiction.
*as of publishing this post, I have started an Advanced Reader's Copy
The Safe Place
pub date: 7/14/20
When struggling young actress Emily loses her office temp job and receives an eviction notice from her landlord for too many late payments, her future seems more uncertain than ever. Former employer, company CEO Scott Denny, takes notice of her and believes her to be the perfect fit for their family, serving as an assistant to his wife, playmate to his young daughter, and caretaker of their sprawling oceanside property in sunny France. Emily accepts, quickly forming a bond with wife Nina as they spend hours a day together restoring the grounds, lounging poolside, and prepping elaborate meals. Young Aurelia is a bit more work, but even she begins to trust Emily as they spend more time together. But, something feels off…
With a little research, Emily begins to uncover the family’s darkest secrets and suddenly her dream job by the sea is a nightmare.
Why I am Excited: I love thrillers with a summer vibe, and I am admit, this cover sucked me in.
*update as of publishing this post: I have read my Advanced Reader's Copy and will publish a review soon
The Nothing Man
Catherine Ryan Howard
pub date: 8/20/20
Eve Black, the lone survivor of “The Nothing Man” who killed her family nearly two decades prior, has devoted her life to her obsessive hunt to track down the man who destroyed her life and family. But “The Nothing Man” is still out there, and he is reading her memoir, realizing how close Eve is to uncovering the truth about him.
Why I am Excited
I love a good page-turner with crazy plot twists. Other reviewers have mentioned going into this one without reading much about it because of these twists, which excites me to open my copy.
What are you looking forward to reading this summer?
~ tag your vacation reading photos @travelbystephanie ~
My husband and I recently celebrated ten years of marriage by sailing the California coast on board the Grand Princess. With a stay in San Francisco and stops in Santa Barbara, Long Beach/Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico we were able to see some wonderful coastal highlights and balance that with some relaxation.
My reading life since becoming a mom hasn't taken too much of a hit, but I do love the extended reading sessions I am rewarded with when my husband and I travel. During a course of six days, I plowed through four books, all of the page-turner variety.
While cruise ship libraries often feature less-than-desirable passenger cast-offs, the Grand Princess library, "Leaves", offered readers several shelves of purchased books including an area dedicated to the classics and the Princess Book Club. I could have easily pulled twenty books from the cases to take to my stateroom, but I grabbed The Roanoke Girls. I used a couple of my internet minutes to check its rating on Goodreads, saw the positive rating and review my friend Amy gave it (she never lets me down), and I immediately started it with a latte in one hand. While the subject matter of this book is extremely dark (major trigger warnings here), the author tends to it delicately while wrapping it in a completely engrossing family saga. What a read. This was a five-star for me.
Throughout the cruise, we really enjoyed spending time in the Leaves library. We played Scrabble from the board game collection, tried out some of the daily puzzle sheets left out for passengers, and of course, read our books. Because of the very cool temperatures of this trip, we spent more time indoors than we normally do.
Inadvertently, the last two books I read on the cruise both centered around California serial killers, one fictional and the other not.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark is the literary culmination of one writer's twenty-year obsession to uncover the man who terrorized California over a span of several years in the 1970s and 1980s. While McNamara passed away before the completion of her book, those who best knew her and the case finished a few of the chapters. Interestingly enough, while I was reading this, the Golden State Killer was finally arrested after about forty years of police evasion. Five stars.
Unsub, which I recently learned has been optioned for television, tells the story of a creepy killer (nicknamed "The Prophet") in the Bay Area who presents his victims in horrifying tableau. The case haunts both detective father and detective daughter, who must rexamine the case when similar murders resume twenty years after the case nearly destroyed her father. I read this book in one day - I could not put it down. I am not usually a fan of series, but as soon as I realized there was a second book, I put it on hold. Very dark, and could keep you up at night! Five stars.
My husband, who is normally only a vacation reader, finally started a book I have been encouraging him to read since I finished it over the course of two days in February. I became obsessed with Scott Kelly's memoir when I read it, and even signed up for and attended some local space talks, made my husband watch a Soyuz landing with me live on NASA TV, and bought a NASA t shirt. The book covers his early life with astronaut twin Mark Kelly, journey to becoming an astronaut, and full coverage of his year living at the International Space Station. Everyone I have recommended this book to has become completely engrossed and fascinated by him and his story as well. Five stars.
What did you enjoy reading on your last vacation? Comment below, or post a photo on Instagram tagging @travelbystephanie
In May 2017, Brian and I spent four nights at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort and Spa, a luxurious retreat of a resort located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Unfortunately, I experienced an issue with loading books onto my first-generation Nook ereader (yes, I still have and use my original) so I did not enjoy using my Kindle Fire for reading on this vacation. I am just not a fan of backlit devices - they are killer on the eyes and no fun in the sun.
A full review of our experience at the Grand Velas will follow, but for now, let's take a look - without judgment - at my reads for this vacation:
I am a Gilmore Girls fanatic, so as soon as I learned Lauren Graham would be publishing a memoir, it immediately was added to my to-be-read list on Goodreads. Lucky for me, my turn for the eBook was up right as we were set to depart.
I fell in love with her even more, and I suspect this would be fantastic as an audio selection.
Click on the cover to learn more.
This was a different sort of reading vacation for me - with lack of access to the books I *thought* I had loaded onto my Nook, and then issues reading my Kindle in the sunlight, my reading time was sufficiently hampered. I did not dive into any great fiction as is my norm, but I thoroughly enjoyed these guilty pleasure memoirs on this first resort vacation post-baby.
Update: I have since purchased a Kindle Paperwhite, which is much more user-friendly for downloading books from my library's Overdrive system (no more cables and computers and Adobe programs needed like with my Nook!) .
After finding out in early March that we were expecting our first child, the husband and I knew we needed to squeeze in one final vacation before our travels were put aside for a few months to care for our little lady. My husband really wanted to spend a week at a couple of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, so I made our arrangements and we headed south in mid-June. I have been very lucky with a healthy, active, and happy pregnancy, but I am not ashamed to admit how much I was looking forward to embracing my inner sloth and lounging for a few days with books and a Caribbean view. And lounge I did...I am not kidding when I say this is just about all we did on this vacation. (We are normally active vacation people, so this level of laziness is a huge deal for us.)
Areas I Lounged Around, Book in my Hand...
Breakfast. Read. Shower. Lunch. Read. Nap. Read/word puzzles. Dinner. Scrabble. Sleep.
Our vacation routine was lively, people.
I completed The Next Best Thing, Me Before You, and An Untamed State during our week-long stay in Mexico, while also dipping in and out of the intense I Am Pilgrim. I started The Girl on the Train during the flight home and finished it after settling back into reality.
Click on the book covers to learn more.
If you're a bibliophile like me, packing books for vacation can be a daunting task - particularly if you prefer traveling with print books instead of one of those flashy, newfangled e-readers. (I own one, and love it, but don't take it on resort vacations.) I have taken to posting my options online so my book group can help me decide or spreading the books out on the bed and letting my husband voice his opinion on my intended reading material. Weight, size of books, number of books, and content are all things to consider, especially if you're a packing hero traveling with a carry-on only. (This is something I will contend with on our upcoming vacation, and I am already stressed out about it.)
My vacation reading primarily happens while en route to our vacation destination and on the return trip home - my husband and I are not ones to lie on the beach or next to a pool, and I am usually too sleepy on vacation evenings to read before bed. (Although at home I usually read each night before bed!) We prefer to be active, particularly on cruise ships where so many fun activities happen all day, but have recently discovered the bliss of relaxing poolside at an all-inclusive resort.
For our November 2013 cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, I knew we would be relaxing by the pool quite a bit, so I tossed two library books into my suitcase. I plowed through Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (lots of fun) and then started The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (too depressing to read while listening to steel drums). Wally Lamb tells good stories, but after a couple of his books on vacation, I know I won't be packing another one in the future.
On our recent visit to an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya, Mexico I packed the first book in the Game of Thrones series, thinking I would become completely engulfed by the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin before beginning the critically-acclaimed HBO television series with my husband. Nope. While the book is incredibly well written, I spent most of that vacation staring at the Caribbean Sea trying to decompress from months of working long hours. This was our first vacation together with substantial time spent relaxing, and I probably would have read much more if I had packed something a tad lighter. I plan on finishing this one at home...eventually. Okay, what I mean is that I plan on watching the tv series soon.
My husband reads only occasionally but had his nose buried in a book for most of this vacation, so consider this is an honest-to-goodness endorsement, readers. A couple of years ago, I wrote out a list of books for my husband that I thought he would enjoy, so he has been working his way through both fiction and nonfiction slowly but surely. On this trip, he went completely rogue and packed a book my mom had purchased for him as a Christmas gift - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. He could not wait to get to the pool to read each morning, and he spent most of our rainy resort day burrowed in the Dreams Riviera Cancun lobby, alternating between beers and coffee drinks from the CoCo Cafe.
For those of you who pack print books on vacation, how do you decide what you will take with you? What sorts of books do you like to read on vacation? What are some of your favorite vacation reads? Share your comments below or on the Facebook page, and let's get a discussion going and help bookworms experience literary joy while out and about in the world.
Nook or paperbacks? Nook or paperbacks? Nook! And one paperback, just in case, for the beach!
Selecting books to pack for vacation is my most time-consuming task, and it usually involves quite a bit of time spent on Goodreads and a few consultations with my most trusted of reading friends. Usually, I am the one many seek out for book recommendations, but planning reading material for vacation really sends me into a tizzy. Thankfully, my great reading friend Lisa surprised me with several books for my eReader a couple of days before departure; she really knows my taste and I knew that I would have some great novels in store.
I have read Chevy Stevens in the past, and her books are usually fun page-turners so I thought I would start this one on the flight to Cancun. It wasn't as good as the first book I read by her, Still Missing, but it made the time pass quickly en route to Mexico. I finished it shortly before landing, and selected The Vacationers as my next read, which proved to be a perfect novel for hanging out on the beach or at the pool. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You was smart and well-written; it's a shame so many are writing negative reviews because they didn't care for the main character.
Next to travel, reading is my greatest pleasure. When I can combine the two...even better.