Hello + happy belated 4th of July! I hope you all were able to enjoy a nice long weekend with family and friends. I was at the beach all last week which was so nice and then spent a low-key holiday yesterday grilling out with my family. I will be in town all of July, so am excited to work on some new posts for the blog—including a full recap of my trip to Asheville over MDW, which is long overdue. (We took SO many photos, it was a lot to go through and edit!)
I read seven books in June, including four books on my beach trip last week. Getting lost in a great book on the beach is one of my absolute favorite pastimes, and just such an indulgent treat. I read a lot of great books in June that I am excited to share with you today.
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me.
Happy reading! x
LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE | FIONA DAVIS
The story is half told in 1913. Laura Lyons lives in an apartment at the New York Public Library with her young children and her husband, who is the superintendent of the building. She yearns for more out of life, so she applies to Columbia’s journalism school and is accepted. As she’s reporting all over the city, she’s drawn to the new age ideas being born in Greenwich Village. She hears about suffrage and women’s rights, and begins to question her role as a wife and mother. Concurrently, rare books begin to disappear from the library and her family falls under suspicion. When things come to a head, she’s forced to determine where her priorities really lie.
The other half of the story is told 80 years later, in 1993. Sadie lands her dream job as curator of the New York Public Library, but the job quickly becomes a nightmare as rare books begin to go missing. Determined to save her collections and her career, she teams up with the private investigator. But as she uncovers more information about the missing books, she’s forced to confront some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—and the crisis at the library.
Would I recommend it? My best friend Emma recommended this one to me and I am SO GLAD she did—I tore through it and loved it. If you also enjoy historical fiction, definitely pick this one up. I am excited to read more by Fiona Davis!
UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY | KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY
Parker lost his wife, Greer, to cancer three years ago, and hasn’t been able to move on since. But when his childhood friend, Amelia, reminds him of the embryos he and Greer froze before she passed away, he realizes a way to get Greer back is to find a surrogate and become a single father. Amelia, recently separated, volunteers to be his surrogate—under one condition, after the babies are born, she’ll walk away. Along the way, the pair head back to their hometown of Cape Carolina, and discover family secrets that could change everything.
Would I recommend it? As long as Kristy Woodson Harvey is writing, I will be reading. I loved this one—and would definitely recommend her Peachtree Bluff books if you need the most heartwarming series to dive into this summer.
PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION | EMILY HENRY
Poppy and Alex met back in college and even though they have nothing in common, they’re the best of friends. She’s a wild child who wants to see the world, he wears khakis and drives the speed limit. While their lives have taken them to different parts of the country, each summer for the last ten years, they go on a week-long vacation together. Until they went to Croatia two years ago—and everything was ruined. They haven’t spoken since.
Missing her best friend, Poppy decides to text Alex out of the blue and convinces him to take one more vacation together. Surprisingly, he agrees—and Poppy begins to plan the trip of a lifetime to win her best friend back.
Would I recommend it? I LOVED this book—I think it was my favorite one that I read all month. I stayed up really late one night reading it and got up early the next morning to finish it. I can’t recommend this one enough!
THE SOULMATE EQUATION | CHRISTINA LAUREN
Jess is a single mom to seven-year-old daughter Juno. She loves her daughter and her grandparents, who live a stone’s throw away. She’s hustling to stay afloat, but is lonely. Her best friend tell her about GeneticAlly, a new DNA-based matchmaking company that matches romantic partners based on their DNA compatibly. She takes a test on a whim and doesn’t think much else about it—until her test shows a 98% compatibility with one of the founders of the company, Dr. River Pena. But she is instantly a doubter because she knows River from her local coffee shop—he’s stuck up, stubborn, rude, and definitely not her soulmate.
But GeneticAlly comes to Jess with a proposition—get to know River as a PR stunt for the company, and we’ll pay you. Jess, who is barely making ends meet, reluctantly agrees. And as the pair are dragged from one media opportunity to the next, Jess realizes there might be something more to the science behind a soulmate.
Would I recommend it? I didn’t dislike this one, but I didn’t love it either—I will always pick up whatever Christina Lauren writes (fun fact: it’s actually two best friends who author their books together!), but I think I like some of their other titles better.
MALIBU RISING | TAYLOR JENKINS REID*
Malibu Rising follows the lives of the four Riva siblings over the course of 24 hours in 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, which has become a star-studded bash over the years because everyone wants to be close to the Riva siblings. Nina’s a talented surfer and supermodel, her younger brothers Jay and Hud are a surfer-photographer duo, and Kit is the adorable youngest sibling. They’re all children of the legendary singer, Mick Riva—who appeared in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six for those of you that have also read other Taylor Jenkins Reid titles.
By midnight, the party is completely out of control. By morning, Nina’s mansion is going up in flames. But before that first spark in the dry Malibu climate, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped the Riva siblings’ lives will all come bubbling up.
Would I recommend it? I am probably the only person who didn’t love Daisy Jones & The Six—I found the formatting super tiresome to read, but I really, really enjoyed Malibu Rising and wished we didn’t have to wait another two years for one of her books!
SUNFLOWER SISTERS | MARTHA HALL KELLY*
Sunflower Sisters follows three women throughout the Civil War. Georgeanna Woolsey, a great-grand mother of Caroline Ferriday from Lilac Girls, is a Union nurse who joins the war effort. Her efforts allow her to cross paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the Union Army, and Ann-May Wilson, a southern plantation mistress who is left to run the affairs of her estate at home as her husband joins the Union Army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates.
Inspired by true accounts, Sunflower Sisters provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the barbaric and inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City to the horrors of the battlefield. It’s a sweeping story of women caught in a country on the brink of collapse, in a society grappling with nationalism and unthinkable racial cruelty.
Would I recommend it? I liked this one a lot—it was beautifully written and well-researched, but I definitely prefer Lilac Girls and Lost Roses, which are the two previous books in this series. (You can read them in any order!) I think my opinion swings this way because I am more interested in the World Wars as a period of history than I am in the Civil War. However, this book made me realize how many Civil War battles were fought right in my own backyard—definitely some history I want to dig into there!
ROCK THE BOAT | BECK DOREY-STEIN*
Kate thinks her boyfriend is going to propose, but instead, he dumps her—so she finds herself spending the summer in the seaside town in New Jersey where she grew up. To really move forward, she must confront her past and everything she left behind.
Would I recommend it? I loved this one by Beck Dorey-Stein! She wrote a memoir, From the Corner of the Oval, about her time as Obama’s stenographer and this is her first foray into fiction. I literally read this on the beach, and can attest, it was a great beach read!